User Experience Research

The Proposal

Amautiq* is a proposal for an app that connects Inuvialuit teens with the traditional process of Inuit sewing practice. The application showcases animated characters wearing pieces of clothing currently in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s collection. The app provides a digital platform for Inuvialuit teens to learn about the process by learning directly from the elders in the community. 


The proposal is a part of the Inuvialuit Living History Project, a digital heritage initiative between researchers at Simon Fraser University, The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Inuvialuit community in the Western Canadian Arctic region. The goal is to connect originating communities to their artifacts currently in the care of the Smithsonian Museum as means of virtual repatriation.


The Problem  

In the past, a museum’s role was limited to fostering the education of the masses through its collections of artifacts. This old role which was focused on preserving artifacts for historical purposes is no longer ethical or relevant. Artifacts in the museum’s collection are often taken from the people who created them and disconnected from their culture of origins. Almost all of the museum’s records and representation of these clothing articles were written and created from the perspective of the collector. The perspective of the people from their originating culture and the intangible aspects of the artifacts that ascribe meanings to them are missing from the representation.


*The amauti is the parka worn by Inuit women of the eastern area of Northern Canada. Up until about two years of age, the child nestles against the mother’s back in the amauti, the built-in baby pouch just below the hood. The pouch is large and comfortable for the baby.