Campus Life

Many Guns tells narrative through symbols

Linda Many Guns is a professor in the Department of Native American Studies. Her Blackfoot ancestry plays a large role in her teachings and she has found a unique way to bring the symbols of the Aboriginal culture into the classroom, bringing to life the rich tapestry that is the history of the Blackfoot people.

"I personally like to blow up myths about Aboriginal people," says Many Guns, who discusses the importance of the University's annual Native Awareness Week.

"One of the opportunities we have during Native Awareness Week is the chance to demonstrate outside of classroom discussions, what it is to be Aboriginal. It's not just about reserves and issues, it's about people, a way of life and a quality of life. The issues are always centred on poverty and that impoverished image. This week we have the opportunity to demonstrate a way of life that has quality, colour, skill and integrity."

Many Guns has a law degree and teaches in the areas of Aboriginal law. She also is an accomplished seamstress who has taken to reconstructing clothing from Aboriginal history.

By crafting traditional aboriginal clothing such as dresses, war shirts and moccasins using actual trade cloth and intricate glass beads of a bygone time, she is using colour to recreate history and help it leap off the page.

"For me it's a source of pride," says Many Guns, who is in her second semester of teaching at the U of L. "I don't want to see just black and white pictures of our people keeping the memory alive. By creating these items, you see the incredible colour and beauty of that time, and it's awesome. You get a sense of how dynamic and incredible meeting our people must have been."

Born in southern Alberta into the Blackfoot tribe, she was registered at the Tsuu T'ina Reserve, later transferred to Siksika Nation. Now an educator completing a doctorate degree, Many Guns has worked in a variety of fields, from being a chef to a high-steel construction worker.

What has always resonated with her is the history of her people.

"I've always been proud of my culture and my heritage and like so many of the students I teach here, have spent a good part of my lifetime reconstructing what I know since so much of that was fragmented growing up," she says. "I've never seen myself as assimilated, I see myself as indigenous and am very proud of that."

For more on Many Guns, see this story.