Essay on Aboriginal Education

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Middlebury College
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To understand about the Aboriginal community, I attended the Royal Ontario Museum to have a general view on their way of life. I chose the museum due to the collective content that they often display in addition to being a good source of historical information. To get more insight and learn new information about the community, I took several pictures and a few notes of the aboriginal section.

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The first aspect that caught my interest was the aboriginals mode of transport. The used the freight canoe to move along larger routes formed by rivers and lakes. The materials used for making it include; Spruce root, wood, and birch bark. A single canoe had a crew of 8 to ten people to paddle it. Also, each canoe carried about 4 tons of weight. An interesting fact about the canoes is that only four of them made it through to the twentieth century, but only two are present as the rest got destroyed by fire. The freight canoe is perceived to pay tribute to the political, social and economic development of Canada.

Another interesting artifact was the Sitting Bulls war shirt. It was mostly won by the Plains Indians which was synonymous and mostly symbolized ceremonial and political positions. It included various standard elements that illustrated military accomplishments of the individual wearing it in addition to the spiritual links. Some of the elements include; painted passages, fringes and quillwork panels. The Lakota style is significantly used to illustrate the features of the shirt. Sitting Bulls shirt was taken to ROM in 1955 by Albert Housleys family who was a corporal in the late 1800s. It is perceived that the shirt was sold by Sitting Bull to William LeQuesne who was a Police Interpreter. The materials used for making it include; human hair, bighorn sheepskin, weasel skins, porcupine quills and dyed horsehair.

The birchback canoe was also another interesting artifact. It was made from birch back, pitch, wood and spruce root. The canoes outer skin was made from white birch tree such that the white surface faced the interior of the canoe. White cedar was used to make the gunwales, sheathing, and ribs. The artifact is highlighted to be a gift of Professor WJ Loudon.

An artistic artifact of the aboriginals was the beaded panel bag that contained an extended beadwork panel and hence its name. The bag also contained paint on both sides in addition to a porcupine quillwork panel at the bottom. The quillwork contained geometric patterns. The skin pouch was the bags predecessor. The beaded panel bag was commonly used for carrying tobacco, medicine and steel and flint used in making fire.

Another interesting piece was the image on camping in the prairie by the English soldiers. The prairie was in the plain south of Fort Gary. The image contains a man who is identified as Paul Kane, a saddle horse, a tent and a cart. The plain also contains wild roses. Kane appears to be in a sitting position while looking at a beaded panel bag in front of him. The image is viewed as a representation of the date that Kane first came across a beaded panel bag. From a general perspective, each artifact presented new information about the way of life of the aboriginals. They depicted the way of life and the creativity of aboriginals.

Before visiting the museum, my perception was that I already knew about the aboriginals and that the excursion would just be an overview of what I already knew. However, any new information or artifact that I came across appeared strange and interesting. I could relate some of the things with the background information, but most of the things regarding the aboriginals present in the museum were new. I learned more about their means of transport, in addition to their social, economic and political values. Their items were quit unique; from the canoes, Sitting Bulls shirt, and the beaded panel bag. I also got to learn about camping in the prairie by the English soldiers.

The event exposed me to new information in the sense that I was able to create mental images on how the aboriginals carried out their activities. From a personal perspective, museums are useful sources of information when it comes to learning about our histories. I found myself busy taking notes and taking pictures as everything that I came across was new and refreshing in regards to what I already knew about the aboriginals. I actually was shocked by the amount of information I received while going to the museum and got to learn new information on aboriginals in general.

From a general perspective, the event increased my knowledge on the aboriginals. The artifacts regarding their means of transport, artwork and how they depicted significant people in their societies enabled me to understand their social, economic and political perspectives. I believe that there is more to learn about our histories from various sources a part from the information that we obtain in class.

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