For the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa (LTBB) in Northern Michigan, traditionally known as the Waganakising Odawak, porcupine quillwork is not only an exquisite decorative art, it is a deeply-rooted cultural practice entwined with Waganakising history, Tribal sovereignty, environmental stewardship, storytelling, and the transmission of intergenerational knowledge. When renowned Waganakising Odawakwe quill worker Yvonne Walker Keshick teaches the art of quillwork, she also teaches about responsible gathering and protecting resources, Tribal rights, and the history of regional trade and political negotiations. Because of this rich significance, quillwork is also a powerful avenue for teaching the Waganakising Odawak’s non-Indigenous neighbors to value and understand Tribal ways of life.
As leaders in a movement to build positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the LTBB Odawa will collaborate with Heather Howard to create a digital portal for Waganakising heritage. The portal will support traditional arts knowledge while cultivating appreciation for Waganakising cultural practices outside the Tribe. Beginning with a focus on quillwork, Waganakising historians and knowledge-holders will lead community events with Tribal members centered on identifying heritage objects and historical documents for inclusion in the portal and initiating discussion on portal design. Building on digitization work undertaken by the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures (GRASAC), the portal will draw together and contextualize materials held locally by the Tribe and by museums and collections across the country and internationally, creating a centralized, Tribal-governed platform for engaging with the Waganakising story.