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The Inkameep Day School Art Collection


The focus of this CURA project is a unique art collection at the Osoyoos Museum: 205 visual documents comprised of pieces of children's art from the Inkameep Day School in Oliver, B.C., as well as photographs of the children taking part in school activities. The art and photographs were created in the years of 1931-43 during the residence of Anthony Walsh, the teacher and principal of the one-roomed schoolhouse who based his teaching on the importance of art in education.

Although Walsh had no formal pedagogical training, he saw that to lift the children out of an atmosphere of discouragement and frustration associated with Western intrusion into aboriginal lives, they had to express themselves through their own culture and values (B.C. Provincial Archives, MS-2799). Walsh is recorded as stating he simply let the children teach him about what they were interested in before he could start teaching them. Interested in Native arts and crafts himself, Walsh encouraged creative expression in art, song, legend, dance, and music seeing this as a positive way to encourage the children in their education. Walsh devoted a small allotment of regular curriculum time to creative expression everyday.

Dr. Andrea Walsh, Dept. of Anthropology at UVic, and several of her students worked in close collaboration with the Osoyoos Indian Band to research the drawings and archival collections located in Victoria, Vancouver, the Okanagan Valley, London, England, and Vienna. Interviews were conducted with former students of the Day School and Oliver residents with memories of the school and Anthony Walsh.

A database of digitized images was created for the Osoyoos Museum collection as well as a bibliography and resource list for information on the Inkameep Day School and related topics. Some of the Osoyoos Museum works were selected for the exhibition "Drawing the World" at the Vancouver Art Gallery from June 27 through September 28, 2003, and for "Nk’mip Chronicles: Drawings from the Collection of the Osoyoos Museum" shown at the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, Feb. 23 – April 6, 2004. The drawings were showcased in an exhibition at the Nk'Mip Cellars Winery in Osoyoos for National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2004, and they remained on display until July 21 st . The production of a web exhibit, entitled Drawing on Identity: Inkameep Day School Art Collection was launched in the Summer of 2004, and is sponsored by the Virtual Museums of Canada program.

The project publication, Nk'Mip Chronicles: Art from the Inkameep Day School , is available from the Osoyoos Museum or the Nk'Mip Desert Heritage Centre.

For more images and information, see the Osoyoos Museum's introduction to the Inkameep School and Anthony Walsh.

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