Anishinaabeg: Art & Power | Level 3, Centre Block

  • Hand-carved Anishinaabeg tobacco pipe.
    With the advent of metal tools, Anishinaabeg pipes grew increasingly complex, even depicting narrative scenes, as seen here. Victoria College Collection.
  • Anishinaabeg beaded "friendship bags"
    The Anishinaabeg’s most distinctive beaded objects, “friendship bags” were often worn as pairs diagonally across the chest.
  • Two Anishinaabeg women wearing hats and friendship bags.
    Two Anishinaabeg women wearing paired friendship bags and men’s hats photographed around 1900 at Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation in southwestern Ontario. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.
  • Two loom woven beaded bands.
    Beaded decorative bands woven on a loom by an Anishinaabeg woman, collected in 1908 by Edmund Morris, the artist, at the Agricultural Fair in Brandon, Manitoba. Sir Edmund Walker Collection.
  • Painting of a Memekweshik, by Norval Morrisseau.
    These shy beings, known as Memekweshik, live in the cliffs along the lakes and rivers and only come out at night, leaving behind drawings on rocks. Painting on paper by Norval Morrisseau, 1974. Gift of the Members’ Committee.
  • Plastic baby partly covered with black paint and floral pattern.
    The floral pattern on Barry Ace’s Baby Warrior’s signifies the artist’s Anishinaabeg roots, while the encroaching areas of pink represent the constant pressures of assimilation into the surrounding non-Indigenous culture. On Loan from Ms. Vicki Heyman.

Opens Saturday, June 17, 2017

Explore the life, traditions, and sacred stories of the Anishinaabeg as told through their powerful art over the last two centuries. Anishinaabeg: Art & Power takes you on a journey through the artistic evolution of one of the most populous and diverse Indigenous communities in North America.

With their homeland in Ontario, and communities stretching from Quebec to Alberta and Michigan to Montana, the Anishinaabeg have communicated and expressed their knowledge and cultural traditions through art for centuries, depicting the relationships between humans, their ancestors, nature, ceremony and supernatural beings known as spirits. Over time, their art was deeply influenced by both inter-community relationships with other Indigenous groups and the arrival of the Europeans to Canada. From early art forms and intricate beaded regalia to paintings and drawings from the Woodlands School art movement, these richly colourful and vibrant pieces reveal the artistic transformation of Anishinaabeg art. By showcasing the great beauty and power of this cultural history, Anishinaabeg: Art & Power highlights the shared connections among Indigenous groups, and between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Canadians.

See these stunning works steeped in tradition, and gain a greater understanding of Indigenous art forms, beliefs and worldviews.


Arni Brownstone

Assistant Curator (Plains Indian Culture)