Talena Atfield

Talena Atfield (Kanien’kehá:ka, Six Nations) is an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in the department of History. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Toronto that she received in 2018. She is interested in the histories of collecting, retaining, and displaying Indigenous cultures in museums and galleries in North America as well as the regeneration of disrupted or fractured knowledges held in museum collections through community-based methodologies. She is especially interested in basket weaving, beadwork, tufting, quillwork, leatherwork, and regalia-making. 

Dr. Atfield is an artist whose work has recently been accepted for exhibition in the Woodland Cultural Centre’s 48thannual juried art show. She is currently preparing an exhibition of her beadwork under an Ontario Arts Council grant in which she challenges ideologies of authenticity in Hodinohso:ni beadwork often referred to as “whimseys”. She previously held the position of curator of eastern ethnology at the Canadian Museum of History for several years, where she co-curated the exhibit Peskotomuhkatiyik Skutik (2019) with Peskotomuhkati communities in New Brunswick Canada and Maine USA. 

Dr. Atfield is currently working with a group of Hodinosho:ni scholars on a project called Ga̱̱hsrǫ:nih (To make something): The Frederick W. Waugh Hodinohso:ni Collection. Ga̱̱hsrǫ:nih is a multi-disciplinary project aiming to reintegrate stories, photos, material culture, and archives collected by F.W. Waugh between 1911 and 1924 for the Geological Survey of Canada. The Ga̱̱hsrǫ:nih team has received a Canada Council for the Arts Long-Term Projects Grant in Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. 

Contact Information:


Select Work:

“Hodinohso:ni Basket Weavers,” Indigenous Speakers Series, University of Waterloo, 20 January 2023. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR2ko0uowDw

University of Waterloo. (2022-06-20). Q and A with the experts: Reclaiming Indigenous histories [Press release]. http://uwaterloo.ca/news/media/q-and-experts-reclaiming-indigenous-histories 

University of Waterloo. (2022-08-09). Q and A with the experts: The role of Indigenous women in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge [press release] https://uwaterloo.ca/news/media/q-and-experts-role-indigenous-women-preservation-and