l-r: Students Treena Chambers and Rachel Taylor in Germany with scholar Harmut Lutz, who has built a significant archive of Canadian Indigenous literature.


Students travel to German village to research Indigenous Canadian literature

February 14, 2018

By Emma Keeler-Dugas

SFU graduate students Treena Chambers and Rachel Taylor spent 10 days in Germany last spring researching the Canadian Indigenous literature archive of Harmut Lutz. A German scholar, Lutz built the collection during his many years at the University of Griefswald, where he devoted much of his research to Canadian culture.

The two students worked out of the library in Lutz’ home in the village of Bömitz. Together, the trio worked through his collection of written archives and audio interviews for a project called The People and the Text, led by Deanna Reder, chair of SFU’s Department of First Nations Studies.

 The project connects Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and students through an online, annotated bibliography of Indigenous texts.

“We went through piles of audio interviews with Indigenous writers from the last 15 to 20 years— they were all on cassettes,” says Chambers, an undergraduate Métis student in the School for International Studies.

The students plan to digitize the interviews and make them available in the SFU library and on Reder’s websites this spring.

Taylor, a master of publishing student, and Chambers also catalogued Lutz’s first-edition books by Indigenous writers, and were intrigued to see an Indigenous manuscript that had never been published.

“This manuscript was a significant find for Indigenous literature,” says Chambers.

After working with the students, and talking to Reder, Lutz decided to donate his nearly 900-title collection of Indigenous literature to the SFU Library. The collection will be available in May 2018.

Taylor, a mixed Iñupiaq (Alaskan native) and settler, describes the research trip to Germany as a wonderful opportunity, while Chambers says, “For me, it was a personally interesting trip to see my studies and my background engage together.”