““Manidoomin” is an animate noun, meaning spirit berry; therefore, when we speak about beads and beadwork, we talk about them as if they are alive.” – Barry Ace
Indigenous peoples have always worked innovations in technology into their cultural practice. The work of Barry Ace is no exception to the rule. Using electronic capictors and resistors to reference traditional Indigenous beadwork of the Great Lakes region as well as embedding digital tablets in his Bandolier Bags, his art as always been a conversation with ever evolving technology. In this article for Pinnguaq writer Courtney Milne links historical traditions of beadwork to Ace’s “[b]eading in the 21st Century.” Milne writes:
Ace’s work connects traditional knowledge and practices to contemporary technology, which provides a powerful statement about the resilience of Indigenous communities.
In Anishinaabemowin the word for bead – manidoomin – translates to mean “spirit berry.” As with electronic components that are conduits for an electrical charge, beadwork on items such as regalia, when performed in by a dancer, is intended to be a conduit for healing energies.
For Milne, who is also Anishinaabe, carrying forward these traditions is an important action:
For many Indigenous people, beading is seen as a medicine in itself; it is a deeply healing ceremonial practice that has the ability to connect individuals to their ancestral roots. Learning the traditional art form of beading is an act of resistance against the historic and ongoing oppression experienced by generations of Indigenous people in this country. This act of resistance is an extremely powerful example of cultural revitalization, identity re-formation, personal and community healing, diversity, resilience, and communal strength among Indigenous communities.
Innovations in technology have also allowed for more than just evolving articulations in aesthetic, they have also allowed for new ways for beading circles to gather. “Opportunities for Indigenous people from all over Turtle Island to connect and learn from each other has dramatically increased because of modern communication technology.” Milne continues, “Communities are created through online interactions on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.”
Read more about Ace’s work, its connection to past beading traditions and its contemporary context in a digital era in Spirits Berries featured on www.pinnguaq. com.
MORE ABOUT PINNGUAQ
Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness, and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people.
Pinnguaq, which means play in Inuktitut, was created in 2012 as a Pangnirtung, Nunavut-based technology startup with the goal of providing play experiences in Indigenous languages. Since then, the organization has embraced ways of incorporating play into applications that support a full learning life cycle.