WMU News

Award-winning "Shared Waters" exhibit at Waldo Library

Sept. 7, 2005

KALAMAZOO--An award-winning exhibit chronicling the historical connection in the Great Lakes between the French and Native Americans is on display at Western Michigan University's Waldo Library through February 2006.

"Shared Waters: Natives and French Newcomers on the Great Lakes," officially opens with ceremonies Friday, Sept. 9, beginning with a 4 p.m. presentation by eminent historical geographer Dr. Conrad Heidenreich, professor emeritus in geography at York University in Toronto.

Heidenreich came to York University in 1963 and, with Dr. John Warkentin, established the geography department and its curriculum of study. He has been a leading contributor to geography studies and cartography in Canada and has brought national recognition to York in these fields.

Heidenreich's lecture is in the Stewart Tower conference room, located between Waldo Library and the University Computer Center. It will include a slide presentation on "The Changing Role of Natives in the Exploration of the Great Lakes during the 17th Century." The entrance to the conference room is through the library's administrative offices on the third floor. The exhibit is located on the second and third floor atrium entrance of the library. There will be an official opening ceremony at 5 p.m. and a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Meader Rare Book Room, with welcoming remarks by WMU President Judith I. Bailey. The events are free and open to the public and parking fees on campus will be waived during the events.

"Shared Waters" traces the story of Native-French interactions in southwest Michigan during the 17th and 18th centuries. It features 27 thematic panels, display cases of religious medals, tools and clothing and a birch-bark canoe. With a rich blend of images, interpretive text and artifacts--some recovered by WMU faculty and students--"Shared Waters" illuminates a complex, diverse and evolving cultural heritage with aesthetic and narrative power. The exhibit was originally conceived and designed by faculty members of the WMU Department of History. Artifacts collected by WMU faculty and students were uncovered at Fort St. Joseph, an 18th century mission and French fur trading post in Niles, Mich.

"Shared Waters" received the 2004 Great Lakes Cultural Center Best Exhibit Award. It is made available to WMU by special arrangement with the Fort Miami Heritage Society in St. Joseph, Mich., where it initially was mounted. The exhibit at WMU has been mounted through the joint sponsorship of the University Libraries and Canadian Studies program.

For more information on the exhibit, the opening events or arranging tours, including visits by school groups, contact Samantha Cairo at (269) 387-5221 or samantha.cairo@wmich.edu.

Several teaching kits, developed as part of the original exhibit, are available for loan to area educators. Those interested in integrating topics from the exhibit into the social studies curriculum should contact Dr. Lynn Brice, associate professor of teaching, learning and leadership, at (269) 373-2806 or lynn.brice@wmich.edu; or Dr. Wilson Warren, associate professor of history, at (269) 387-4644 or wilson.warren@wmich.edu.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
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