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Social Science Native American Studies

Naamiwan's Drum

The Story of a Contested Repatriation of Anishinaabe Artefacts

by (author) Maureen Matthews

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Nov 2016
Native American Studies, Modern (late 19th Century to 1945), Native American, Cultural
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2017
    List Price

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Naamiwan’s Drum follows the story of a famous Ojibwe medicine man, his gifted grandson, and remarkable water drum. This drum, and forty other artefacts, were given away by a Canadian museum to an American Anishinaabe group that had no family or community connections to the collection. Many years passed before the drum was returned to the family and only about half of the artefacts were ever returned to the museum.


Maureen Matthews takes us through this astonishing set of events from multiple perspectives, exploring community and museum viewpoints, visiting the ceremonial group leader in Wisconsin, and finally looking back from the point of view of the drum. The book contains a powerful Anishinaabe interpretive perspective on repatriation and on anthropology itself. Containing fourteen beautiful colour illustrations, Naamiwan’s Drum is a compelling account of repatriation as well as a cautionary tale for museum professionals.

About the author

Maureen Matthews is Curator of Ethnology at the Manitoba Museum as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Manitoba.

Maureen Matthews' profile page


  • Short-listed, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book awarded by the Manitoba Book Awards
  • Winner, Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction awarded by the Manitoba Book Awards
  • Short-listed, McNally Robinson Book of the Year awarded by the Manitoba Book Awards
  • Short-listed, John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer awarded by the Manitoba Book Awards

Editorial Reviews

‘What this book does excellently is to uncover in subtle ways how objects are actors in the drama of repatriation whether one takes First Nations perspective or not.’

Transmotion Journal vol 4:01:2018

‘This work will no doubt become a standard by which repatriation and perhaps even cultural and community studies are judged.’

The Canadian Journal of Native Studies vol 37:02:2017

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