GRASAC was established in 2005 and can best be thought of as two related things: a network of people who meet, work together, and share ideas to learn about the histories, languages and cultures of the Great Lakes, as well as a database that digitally reunites Great Lakes materials from around the world, putting heritage items back into relationships with each other and with community members, teachers, researchers, and heritage staff.
Great Lakes heritage continues to be scattered across museums and archives in North America and Europe, often at a great distance from Aboriginal community knowledge, memory and perspectives.
GRASAC seeks to benefit Indigenous communities and cultural institutions alike by bringing together members’ insights and knowledge from their own areas of understanding and inspiring multiple ways of knowing, recording, representing and supporting Great Lakes cultural practices.
We strive to model mutually supportive relationships among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in our research ethics and methods, governance, funding, leadership and mentoring. We use both Aboriginal and Western approaches to recover and incorporate distinctive Aboriginal traditions of thought and knowledge into our understandings.
We respect communities’ sovereignty to pursue physical repatriation as they desire and to set the terms for sharing intellectual property and traditional knowledge. GRASAC has sought to foster a community of researchers and lifelong-learners who can, in this context, facilitate digital and knowledge repatriation, and work in ways that contribute to the understanding of and continuation of Great Lakes arts and cultures.