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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Visitor responses to Nitsitapiisinni : our way of life : the impact of collaboration on visitors’ experiences Krmpotich, Cara Ann

Abstract

Collaborative exhibitions built by Aboriginal communities and museums often seek to reposition Aboriginal peoples as the authors and experts of their culture, and assert their active and continued presence in the contemporary world. This thesis explores the impact collaborative exhibitions are having on museum visitors, using the particular case of "Nitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life" - an exhibition created by Blackfoot Elders and Glenbow Museum staff. Interviews with visitors to the exhibition demonstrate that museum visitors rarely recognized the collaborative nature of the exhibit, and thus rarely imagined Nitsitapiisinni as a statement of self-representation or self-determination. Other messages were successfully communicated to museum visitors, namely the impact of colonialism, the efforts to revitalize Blackfoot culture, and the importance of Blackfoot spirituality. Visitors' experiences are considered in the context of intersecting agendas: the museum's educational mandate, the exhibitor's goals, the tourism industry, and the visitor's own personal agendas.

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