Historical Photographs was created to bring together images and information about photographs pertaining to Iiyiyuuschii, held by public institutions and private individuals. Its goal is to give Crees and others an idea of what is out there.
The images and accompanying information on this website were provided by the Waskaganish Cultural Institute's James V. Chism who, over the last several years, has tracked down and scanned thousands of photographs in institutions across North America. We thank him and the institutions involved for allowing us to present the material.
The images in Historical Photographs are intended to serve a dual purpose: as a visual record of people, places and events that have shaped Cree culture and history, and as a tool for exploring the past.
The bulk of the photos were taken by people who were in Iiyiyuuschii for work. Most were taken in the communities. Most reflect the photographers' professional interests.
As a visual record of the past the strength of Historical Photographs lies in its images - some good, others grainy - of many people of whom there are no other images. And it provides a glimpse of the non-native institutions that have played a major role in Cree culture and history: church, school and the fur trade. It also has limitations: Few of the photos depict life in the bush where the Iiyiyuu/Iinnu spent most of their time.
It is up to the Iiyiyuu/Iinnu to fill the gaps with stories that provide a context for the existing photographs and that flesh out the subjects for which photos are lacking.
Old photographs spark memories about the people depicted, their customs and beliefs, the event or activity they were involved in.... Not only are they a reminder of life at the time the photo was taken, the images trigger recollections of events that occurred before and after the photo was taken. Herein lies the real strength of Historical Photographs - as a stepping stone to the past.
We open Historical Photographs with a collection of over 600 images, which were kindly made available by Archbishop Lawrence of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee. Collections from other sources will follow at a later date.