Shekon Neechie: An Indigenous History Site went live on June 21, coinciding with National Indigenous Peoples Day.
U of S professors Robert Alexander Innes and Winona Wheeler, from the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Indigenous Studies, serve on Shekon Neechie’s managing board with Indigenous scholars from York University and the universities of Guelph, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg.
In an interview, Innes said the idea for the website was born while he was thinking about spaces for Indigenous historians to come together and share their ideas, works in progress and thoughts about various topics.
“We’ve noticed that there are plenty of history websites out there, and very few of them have Indigenous people attached to those websites—not as editors or contributors or on the boards or anything,” said Innes.
Seeing a “critical mass” of Indigenous historians in Canada, Innes decided to contact some of them to see if they would be interested in taking part in the project. He envisioned respected senior Indigenous historians leading the way to “open the pathways for others to come.”
“Now there’s so many junior historians and junior scholars—grad students and undergrad students in history—and it seemed like let’s put ourselves out there and welcome them all and have a place where there could be mentorship,” said Innes, noting junior scholars are welcome to submit their work and receive feedback from the scholars on Shekon Neechie’s managing board.
Shekon Neechie—which can be found at shekonneechie.ca—describes itself as a venue for Indigneous historians to gather as an e-community and share their ideas or works in progress. The site states that the term “historian” is broadly defined to include people who research and present Indigenous histories in essays, stories, photographs, videos, podcasts or through other means, and whose work is based in oral history and traditions, archival research, archaeology and material interpretation.
Shekon Neechie is “entirely Indigenous conceived, created and controlled,” the website states, and the historians featured are both formally trained within the academy or the community or are self-taught.
Wheeler, a professional historian who has been a professor of Indigenous studies since 1988, said “creating our own space was really important for us.”
“We’ve been creating our own spaces for over a generation now—carving a place out for ourselves in the university system,” she said. “And so this website is just a natural progression in that direction—and it’s really important I think, like Rob said, for young scholars to know that there is this critical mass of Indigenous historians who support the kind of work that they do.”
Both Innes and Wheeler currently have work posted on the website, with Innes focused on Indigenous genocide and Wheeler writing about Indigenous oral history. The site also includes a select bibliography of historical works by Indigenous scholars on Indigenous histories in North America/Turtle Island, with a focus on publications from 2000-2018.