The Melfort and District Museum is receiving an Award of Merit from the Museum Association of Saskatchewan for their exhibit on Indigenous peoples and archaeology.
The permanent exhibit was opened to the public earlier this summer, providing visitors with a glimpse of life on the ancient plains, Indigenous tool use, local culture, and the modern methods of archeology.
The Melfort and District Museum started in the early 1970s as an agriculture pioneer museum, focused entirely on post-colonial history.
Gailmarie Anderson, the museum’s curator, said in terms of strategic planning, they’ve been expanding to portray pre-colonial local history in recent years.
“We’re very proud of our museum and I think it’s wonderful,” Anderson said. “It took a lot of people and a lot of partnerships with SaskCulture, with the city, the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, the Provincial Archives, all sorts of partnerships and people had to come together and make this exhibit.”
The collection that would make up the exhibit started in 2015, with a donation of over 3,000 artifacts from the Hrytzak Morgan family including mallets and arrowheads. The artifacts were almost all taken from the Yellow Creek area, but others were traced to Fish Creek.
Years later the museum received a second major donation from an individual named Tom Smith, whose artifacts came from the area around Pathlow.
Today, the current exhibit not only has the artifacts on display, but a simulated archeological dig, tipi replica, a touch box, and an information centre which discusses the use of the artifacts.
The museum’s cultural adviser, Edward Stonestand, influenced the final exhibit, ensuring that the display was culturally accurate, and removing ceremonial artifacts that weren’t appropriate for public display. A meeting was held between the museum and Kinistin Saulteaux Nation before the exhibit’s opening.
Another project the museum is conducting is collecting the oral history of local Indigenous and Métis people in the area for display.
Although the exhibit is open for tours, Anderson said the museum is planning to conduct a grand opening with a full scale program on June 21, 2022 for Indigenous Peoples Day.
The award is being presented during a virtual event on Sept. 29 at 10:00 a.m. over Zoom. The Melfort and District Museum falls under the category for institutions with a budget of over $50,000.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal