Summer Scholars: North American Great Lakes / Decolonising the Archive


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Indigenous-British relations in the Great Lakes, and weaving landscapes with maps.

The Eccles Centre’s Summer Scholars season of free in-person lunchtime talks explores the exciting and wide-ranging research into the Americas collections at the British Library by the Eccles Centre’s Fellows and Award winners. The talks take place in the Knowledge Centre and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch. Tea and coffee are available.

Great Britain in the North American Great Lakes

Histories of the British Empire tend to present the image of a centralised and often coercive colonial power. However, in the Great Lakes region of North America, after the conclusion of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1764, Great Britain had a very different experience. Initially, it sought to preserve the fur trade in the region. 

From the American Revolution onward, it saw the Great Lakes region as a buffer to protect Upper Canada (today Ontario) from the land-hungry American republic. In both cases, it could accomplish its goals only by recognising that the Native people of the region retained their political, economic and cultural autonomy. The Native societies remained the principal powers in the region, and British colonial administrators and military commanders largely adhered to Native policies rather than dictating to them British aspirations.

Decolonising the Archive: Weaving Landscapes with Settler-Colonial Maps

Living and travelling through Europe, the United Kingdom, Southeast Asia and the Americas, has enabled Sarah Sense to learn about both contemporary Indigenous life and settler-colonial histories. With her landscape photography and familial weaving traditions, she re-envisions basket patterning from her Chitimacha and Choctaw heritage by weaving photographs of maps, manuscripts and landscapes to tell stories of colonialism, resistance, and resilience. 

The act of cutting and weaving together old maps and new landscapes with traditional patterns re-indigenises the landscapes while decolonising maps.

Patrick J Jung received his doctoral degree in United States history with an emphasis on cultural anthropology from Marquette University in 1997. He has worked at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee, Wisconsin since 2003. He is the author of several articles and books on Native-White relations in the Great Lakes including The Black Hawk War of 1832 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007).

Sarah Sense lives and works in California. She has travelled extensively through the Americas, Europe, United Kingdom and Southeast Asia and her landscape photography is an essential part of her travel and visual art practice. Sense’s weaving practice began in New York while a Master’s student at Parson New School for Design (2003-2005). While director and curator of the American Indian Community House Gallery, New York, Sense catalogued the gallery’s 30-year history, inspiring her search for Indigenous art internationally. Her world travels were charged with archive research, a photo-weaving project that expanded to community programming, international Indigenous artist interviews and a book Weaving the Americas.

Image: Courtesy of artist Sarah Sense and Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York 

This event is organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. The Eccles Centre exists to support and promote creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas, through the world-class collections of the British Library.


Name: Summer Scholars: North American Great Lakes / Decolonising the Archive
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546