‘Stirring the Pot’: An Act of Digital Repatriation

“Stirring the Pot: Bringing the Wanamakers Home” is a photo essay meant to return images of Tuscarora ancestors to their descendants.
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While visiting the Tuscarora Nation—the smallest of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in western New York—in 1913, Joseph Dixon photographed six individuals, and those images became part of the Wanamaker Collection of Native American photographs, now housed at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

While viewing the collection a few years ago, Joe and Fileve Palmer Stahlman discovered a photograph of Joe’s great-great-grandfather, Jefferson Chew.

“Stirring the Pot: Bringing the Wanamakers Home” is a photo essay of their work to return those six images of Tuscarora ancestors to their descendants. The Stahlmans also want to learn more about the individuals in the images through conversations with descendants—what they call a form of digital repatriation.

Courtesy Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Patti Fischer, of the Tuscarora Nation, is seen here holding a photograph of Pat Wegerski who is then holding a photograph of Jefferson Chew.

“The participant’s gifts of memory should not be the final reading of these complex images and how they came to be, but another discussion point in a wide array of interweaving between the past and our present, and if we are fortunate, a morsel for remembrance in the future,” noted the Stahlmans in information about the exhibit.

Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures is located at 416 N Indiana Ave. in Bloomington, Indiana. Admission is free.

On March 25, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., the Stahlmans and members of the Tuscarora Nation will discuss the exhibit at the museum.

The exhibit will be on display through May 27, 2016.