Digitizing the Ancestors Project

The AMMSA Archive is home to over 2,000 separate audio items and over 5,000 items tagged as film, photographs, event documentation, and other ephemera largely archived from the Alberta Native Communications Society (in operation  from the late 1960s until the early 1980s). These include recordings of traditional knowledge in spoken and sung expressions as well as conversations and interviews with community leaders, culture bearers and Elders. This project is designed to develop appropriate community protocols for assigning permissions to individual media following the OCAP guidelines, for ensuring high quality digital preservation and archiving, and to establish culturally-appropriate metadata of digital files to ensure the discoverability of content on community-approved platforms.

Recordings are in predominantly in Cree and English (other Indigenous languages appear less frequently) and require collaboration between the AMMSA community, the Sound Studies Institute, individuals from Music, Linguistics, Native Studies, UAlberta Libraries, the Arts Resource Centre, and many other faculty and student partners and assistants. The project is therefore led by an interdisciplinary co-facilitation team of researchers with the Sound Studies Institute at UAlberta, whose mandate is to preserve and make accessible cultural materials and to increase cross-cultural  understanding. The development of protocols, processes and practices for this project are the foundation for several digital archiving and retrieval projects in other communities, languages, and multimedia formats and, more specifically, multiple current projects within the AMMSA Archive.