An Unexpected Visit to the RAM

  • The Manitou Stone. Sharon Pasula

You may have heard the saying, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” But what happens when obedience becomes sacrifice?

In this instance I believe it was a double blessing. On October 3, I walked past the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) on the way to a meeting. I noticed a lot of activity including television cameras. I decided I wasn’t interested and kept going. A couple of hours later on the way back however, the spirit pulled me there. My feet were causing me enough discomfort that I just wanted to get home (I have gout).

I was given a complimentary red mammoth sticker and went in. It was well into the afternoon and having missed lunch I decided to splurge and buy lunch in the café (besides rest my feet). The coffee was excellent and the bison chili was delicious. I appreciated them using eco-friendly containers.

Having limited time before closing I wanted to check out the Indigenous section. Ancestral Lands is the area I wanted. Pleasantly surprised at the size of the area, I walked quickly to get a scope of it and immediately knew I would have to come back. There were a couple of things I thought were controversial so I’ll have to give those some thought. The centre circular display had a multimedia presentation. The drum song at the end, the words of which I did not understand, moved my spirit. I wept. As I prayed and pondered why I was weeping, it came to me: this is a respectful and excellent way to showcase Indigenous ways. I believe Creator is happy with this.

Fifteen minutes before closing, I still had to see the Manitou Stone. I was informed it is close to the entrance on the second floor. I already knew that it would be viewable without paying for entry into the museum, so this would be my last stop. You don’t have to pay to see this object that is sacred to Indigenous peoples. It has an appropriate grand entrance. There were three people sitting on the side when I went in. The gentleman started to inform me about the history of the stone and the environment it is in now. He introduced the Indigenous woman beside him as Dr. Paulina Johnson, Acting Head, Community Engagement, RAM. She continued to give me information and we chatted. An important piece of information she gave was that Indigenous people only have to self-identify at the admission desk to gain entry to the museum. “We worked hard for that,” she said. Hallelujah. Edmonton joins the ranks of the Museum Of Anthropology, UBC, and the Heard Museum in Phoenix for respecting First Peoples.

Two more things I appreciated were how RAM informed about the territory with a puzzle-like configuration in many Indigenous languages and the rotating digital welcome sign also in several Indigenous languages. Even though my feet were still a bit uncomfortable, it was well worth the obedience because my spirit was filled with gratitude and humility. Thank you, Creator, for the myriad blessings.

Sharon Pasula is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural resource person who lives in Boyle Street.

More in this issue

Neighbourhood Views

Around the Neighbourhood

Volunteer With Us!

We are always looking for new writers and photographers, as well as ideas for future stories. We also regularly need block carriers to help with the delivery and distribution of the paper. Email Paula with your submissions, feedback, ideas, and availability. We also ask that contributors read our Editorial Guidelines and that all volunteers read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

Next Issue . . .

Our next issue is December 2018/January 2019. Articles and photos concerning community news, events, and opinions are welcome. We also encourage submissions of poetry, and cartoons (in JPG or PDF format). Deadline: November 12. Send submissions to: editor@bmcnews.org. Articles should be 400 words or less and accompanied by photographs (JPG, in high resolution) when possible.