Jacki Rand, Mary Wise, and David De La Torre
“Iowa Native Spaces: An Enduring Digital Humanities Project”

“Iowa Native Spaces” is an enduring, collaborative digital humanities project that focuses on indigenous communities of the Midwest, including those that have been removed as a result of U.S. policies and settler expansion. Partners from two tribal nations (Ioway and Meskwaki), three institutions (Grinnell College, Knox College, University of Northern Iowa), the Office of the State Archeologist (Iowa), University of Iowa Native American Studies, University of Iowa College of Education, and History Corps, a graduate student initiative housed in the University of Iowa History Department have been working together to build a website based on primary research and collaborative interpretation.  This panel will present the digital project in beta form, discuss progress-to-date, share challenges met in collaborative work, and reflect on lessons taken from the experiences of the past three years.  Presenters include Jacki Rand, Associate Professor of History, University of Iowa; Mary Wise, doctoral candidate, Department of History, University of Iowa; and Mary Young Bear, museum registrar, Meskwaki Cultural Center.

Sande Garner
“Community Driven Research: From Classroom to Indian Country”

In recent decades a paradigm shift has occurred between scholars researching Native Americans and contemporary communities.  This shift encourages deep reflection about and sensitivity to the relationship between scholars and the communities about whom they study, produce knowledge, and teach.  Today scholars and Native communities approach these relationships more attentive to complexities and, culturally sensitive approaches undergird research.  Contemporary research recognizes multiple stakeholders and projects that represent a diversity of voices engaged in ethical, reciprocal relationships.  Today’s trend is toward collaborative research and often assumes a final product that is conventionally structured as academic.  In this paper I examine the four year long working relationship built between the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and students at Miami University who take a required course, Practices in American Studies.  Shaping this relationship is a self-conscious effort to engage in reciprocity, a characteristic that I argue is central to Native worldview.  This case study expands thinking about stakeholders beyond the scholar/community model to include undergraduate students working on smaller, time-sensitive projects identified by the community as important.

Rebecca Gillam and Lester Randall
“Collaborative Youth Programming between the University of Kansas and the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas”

The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas approached the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research in early 2014 about partnering on a federal grant proposal to bring children’s programs to the community. Since then, we have written 5 successful, multi-year grants together and have developed a strong working partnership that has supported positive growth in the community. We have identified and will present multiple factors that contribute to our successful collaboration.

From the tribal perspective, we will discuss: 1) leadership, 2) community engagement, and, 3) accountability. It has been important for tribal leadership to be involved in the projects and partnership. By connecting the projects to the broader work of tribal council, we have been able to engage the community and employees to make improvements for tribal members across the life course. Additionally, working with a non-native partner, we have been honest and open with the KU team about boundaries, expectations and roles.

From the university perspective, we will discuss: 1) relationships & respect, 2) research and public service, and 3) feedback. The KU team has focused on building authentic relationships that respect the sovereignty of the tribe. This means prioritizing the needs of the community and not a research agenda. Because the team is housed in an independent center and not an academic department, staff do not have research and publishing requirements; this allows the focus to be on the needs of the community rather than on a research agenda. As non-native partners, the KU team has to be open to feedback from tribal leadership, staff and community members about process and cultural wisdom, while being culturally sensitive in the work.

This partnership has brought over $6 million in funding into the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas and has supported positive engagement and growth for members of the community.

Sarah Adams-Cornell, Summer Wesley, & Kendra Wilson-Clements
“Community Engaged Intervention and Advocacy: The Matriarch Model”

Problems brought on by colonization and conquest continue to plague Indigenous communities. Statistics on poverty, violence, suicide, substance abuse, and other social issues within Indian Country paint a bleak picture. Current academic examination focuses on systematic oppression and historical trauma, at the hands of the colonial government. Volumes of studies can be found on specific problems that plague Native communities, both generally and in the context of the specific demographic.

What’s largely absent from the current body of research, however, is viable, culturally relevant solutions for action within communities to address these issues in a comprehensive manner and empower the people to forge a new path. Communities don’t have time to wait on federal policies to change or for the US government to decide to start honoring treaties. Our communities need culturally relevant help NOW.

Matriarch is a Native-led, community-based program that seeks to synthesize the data that is available and attempt to formulate a curriculum that is flexible enough to address the needs of a particular community. The foundational idea is to create social change by taking a comprehensive approach to helping women and, by extension, communities, by simultaneously addressing multiple areas of established paradigms of socio-ecological systems model and community building framework.

What makes Matriarch unique is our intentionality to rely on the wealth of knowledge from Native women as this is an important step toward empowerment. By having Native women teach we ensure culturally relative information. We all act as teachers and students and share ownership of the group as opposed to the top down leadership style of colonized programs. The solutions that come from within the group impacted by the problem are much more likely to be embraced, implemented successfully.

While Matriarch makes use of and applies currently available research, we see an opportunity to build reciprocal relationships with institutions to create a model that can be used in other regions, and live beyond the lifetime of any one participant, as well as adding valuable data to the body of academic knowledge.

Jim Wilson
“Tribalography, Tribal Programs and Community College Curriculum”

In any given year, at least one quarter of the students at Seminole State College (SSC) (Seminole, Oklahoma), identify as members of a federally recognized tribe.  During the 2016/17 academic year students and faculty of the Native American Student Association (NASA) at SSC began to visit the service programs of neighboring tribes.  One purpose of the visits has been to learn about innovations in tribal program activism in Oklahoma.  Another is to consider how students might prepare for meaningful careers with programs that serve Native communities.  Another still is to develop course-offerings in Native American Studies at SSC that enable scholar-interns to critically assess tribal programs.  Such engagement creates an opportunity for what many in Native Studies call “Tribalography,” a theoretical approach that embeds art in scholarship to “transform, inspire, inform and create” Native consciousness (Bauerkemper p. 10; Studies in American Indian Literatures, vol. 26.2, summer 2016).

My paper considers why SSC and other Oklahoma community colleges with high Native enrollment should develop a Native Studies curriculum to engage neighboring tribes and their programs.  Native students would gain professional experience with sovereign tribal programs that address longstanding inequalities and injustices.  The engagement would also foster internships and other special-project courses that enhance the relevance of courses in Native Studies.  As SSC NASA’s visits to neighboring tribal programs continue to spark our imagination, Tribalography provides a creative narrative framework for a Native Studies of tribal sovereignty.  When the critical thinking of tribal programs and Native students are coupled, Tribalography creates the story of Native future for America.

Nicky Michael
“Academia as a Training Ground for Tribal Work”

Because academia often views education as a way out of tribal life, it consequently drains tribal nations of their most valuable resources their educated future leaders.  A reason for this is that academics steeped in western structures, disregards indigenous community and tribal government work.

The lessons from tribal government work reach deeper than any paper exploring the same subject.  In fact, someone could graduate high school, go straight to work for their nation and receive the practical skills.  Essentially, the academy is missing an opportunity to be a training ground both for furthering their missions and to educate indigenous students and their allies.  If the idea is to educate indigenous peoples, what are we educating them to do?  Work in the mainstream or send them back home with the skills needed to be government leaders, run tribal government or develop programs to fulfill needs.  We have numerous programming, such as American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which act as feeder programs to drain able bodied young people away from the tribal area and instead send their talents to corporations and companies.

Little is written about the few indigenous academics who work for their own nations.  Rather, most studies focus on how to retain students in universities.  One article even examines higher education as a form of Self-Determination with no mention of the policy in effect.  Nothing in the literature describes academia as a feeder program to return indigenous students to their home community or provided governance training.

This project will question how to bridge this gap between academics with tribal communities.  NAS could essentially serve as a vocational training ground to benefit their indigenous students and indigenous communities by including practical knowledge regarding the implementation of policies at community and governance levels.

Chief Glenna J. Wallace, Christine Ballengee-Morris, Marti L. Chaatsmith
“Indigenous Knowledge for our Future Generations: Collaborations between Indigenous Communities, Tribal Governments, and Academia”

Ohio’s Hopewell Culture earthworks are distinguished by precise geometric enormous earthen architecture in which earth is shaped into sacred geometry.  They are large structures that connect people to the sky, and standing inside the earthworks is awe-inspiring.  Until recently, much of the material about these places and the People who imagined, designed, and built them was full of misunderstanding and errors.  In addition, because of the consequences of diaspora, the American Indian population of today know little about them.  Earthworks Rising, an interactive multi-platform website developed at Ohio State University was designed with American Indian participation.  In accessing the website, users can explore four big ideas: Earth, Sovereignty, Connections, and Awe. Many ancient places, such as the Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge and Ohio’s earthworks, were aligned with the cosmos, and integrated into the lives of the Indigenous.  Earthworks Rising situates the understanding about Ohio’s earthworks firmly within Woodlands American Indian cultural ways of knowing.  The design and content of Earthworks Rising has been informed by an American Indian Advisory Committee, travel to tribal government offices, hosting heritage tours of Ohio, our experiences and expertise, and the literature attending to community engaged research.  This project has been a journey of exploration, experiences, and creative work.  Multiple disciplines are relevant to the study of the earthworks, and the need for Indigenous-based curriculum is evident.   In this presentation we will share obstacles we encountered, what we have learned and provide suggestions for future projects.

Keith Thor Carlson
“Graduate Fieldschools and the Undergrad Community-Engaged History ‘Collaboratorium’ at the University of Saskatchewan”

Ethnohistory is often discussed as a collaborative process, and yet too often it is performed as an individual exercise.  As ethnohistorians we speak of our relationships with communities but in so doing we regularly replicate a model that sees a lone scholar on one side of the relationship and the indigenous collective on the other.  In this way, Community-engaged Scholarship (CES) by ethnohistorians can sometimes inadvertently result in the isolating of indigenous communities and indigenous voices as they wait for information and partnerships to be filtered through the funneled bottleneck of one particular academic partner. In many ways, what this results in is an inversion of old salvage ethnographic problems associated with the concept of the key informant – only now it is the key scholar that provides a funneled access point to academic voices and perspectives.

Drawing on 18 years experience as founder and co-director with John Lutz of the Stó:lõ/UofS/UVic Ethnohistory Fieldschool (which we understand to be the only humanities-based Ethnohistory Graduate fieldschool in North America) this presentation will discuss the benefits of the fieldschool model to building and sustaining collaborative scholarly enquiry that has been designed and conducted to be meaningful to both First Nations people and ethnohistorians alike. I argue that the Ethnohistory fieldschool model, though demanding in terms of time and resources, can represent a new approach to community-engagement that can be sustained over long periods of time so that it accommodates multiple indigenous perspectives and agendas.

Sonny McHalsie and Keith Thor Carlson
“Mapping the Stó:lo Transformer’s Travels and Works: Territoriality and the Gendering of Aboriginal Historical Consciousness”

Within the Coast Salish world few things are as deeply contested as territoriality. In this paper we present preliminary findings from our SSHRC-funded project examining the changing spatial expressions of Coast Salish legendary stories to argue that settler colonialism has excessively caused to be emphasized a masculine concept of territorial exclusivity while simultaneously having caused an older feminine concept of inclusivity in conceptions of tribal space to have been eclipsed.  Pre-contact patrilocal residence protocols, coupled with the introduction of colonial rules defining band memberships and capitalist economic pressures privileging what had been male gender-specific activities on the land, led to both scholarly and legal articulations of masculine definitions of territoriality and the marginalization of feminine historical consciousness pertaining to a female gendered notion of territoriality.

We hypothesize that one means of tracing the changes in gendered understandings of territoriality is through an analysis of shifts in the tellings of Stó:lō swoxwiyam (legendary origin stories) over time. The early 1880s recordings of these narratives (documented within a generation of the demise of polygamy and communal longhouse living, and when arranged marriages were still the norm) reveal that to a much greater extent than in contemporary tellings, the legends from that time described broad regional actions linking many tribes together in a web of narrative, and moreover, that these earlier recordings often included powerful female protagonists.  Our presentation maps and interprets these narratives for what they reveal about a gendered nineteenth century Coast Salish understanding of territoriality.


Buck Woodard
“The Return of Indian Nations to the Colonial Capital: Heritage Relationships, Indigenous Pilgrimage, and the Production of Native Public History”

Virginia was Great Britain’s oldest, largest and wealthiest colony in North America. As the first place of permanent English plantation in the New World, Virginia was the geography in which Native peoples engaged, traded, warred against and made peace with European settler populations. During the eighteenth century, Virginia’s colonial capital at Williamsburg was the seat of government for a territory that stretched, at least in British minds, from the Chesapeake to the Mississippi, and north to the Great Lakes. Thus, for indigenous peoples within this geography, Williamsburg was one focal point for colonial-era formal exchanges. However, with the outbreak of the American Revolution and the move of Virginia’s capital to Richmond, Indian peoples’ perennial relationship with Williamsburg waned. As the United States emerged as a nation state and the frontier moved westward, the center for American Indian political policy and diplomacy shifted to new spaces.

Founded in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) operates the world’s largest “living history” museum, dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Virginia’s eighteenth-century capital city. While the institution’s educational mission aspires to represent “diverse peoples who helped shape” America, CWF has struggled with the inclusion of indigenous peoples and developing a Native public history. During the 2000s, CWF launched an American Indian “initiative” to counter the lack of Native program development, and to find ways to attract tribal representation in Williamsburg. Over a decade later, Native peoples are once again pilgrimaging to Williamsburg, but it has been a journey of conflict, success, and irony for both the museum and tribal communities. Divergent views about the colonial past, issues of authenticity and culture change, and navigating Indian Country’s political landscape are topics which problematize Native representations in the museum’s public spaces. Through the lens of applied anthropology, this paper examines Williamsburg’s heritage relationships and explores the successes and challenges of Native partnerships in public history.

Brian Hosmer
“A Retrospective on Community-Engaged Scholarship at the Newberry Library”

Founded in 1973, the D’Arcy McNickle Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies represents the Newberry Library’s ongoing commitment to fostering innovative scholarship on the histories and cultures of indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere.  Its acknowledged strengths—a preeminent research collection and a determination to act as neutral ‘meeting ground’—partly account for the reputation it enjoys. Literally hundreds of books and articles have been produced under the McNickle Center’s auspices, and its well varied and well regarded scholarly programs extend its reach well beyond the Library’s walls. Government and philanthropic institutions supports its work. Yet, the Center and Library struggle to reorient research activity toward the priorities of indigenous communities. Drawing on six years as Center Director, Brian Hosmer will share his perspectives on community engaged scholarship at the Newberry, from summer institutes for tribal college faculty to a partnership with the College of the Menominee Nation, and several places in between.

John P. Bowes
“Historians as Expert Witnesses for Tribal Governments”

The legal realm has been an important arena of ethnohistorical production since the 1940s and the birth of the Indian Claims Commission, and everything I have encountered indicates that litigation’s influence will only grow in the years to come.  My presentation will focus on three main points of inquiry.  At a recent conference, historian Richard White, who has served as an expert witness in numerous cases, observed that treaty lawyers and historians “want different things from the past.” First, then, I will discuss the implications of that comment within the context of my own experiences.  Second, I will examine what I have seen as the points of community engagement in the process of preparing expert witness materials in support of tribal litigation.  Third and finally, the paper will raise questions about the extent to which the information and analysis produced within the context of a court case is disseminated or even helpful to the larger community it is intended to serve.  These are not the only issues raised by the topic of litigation and community engagement, but they will hopefully be the starting point for a larger discussion.

Thomas Foster,  Chrisopher Azbell, Veronica Pipestem
“Em etvlhvmke:  Collaboration between the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and The University of Tulsa on the restoration of the Creek Council House, Okmulgee, Oklahoma”

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a sovereign nation that developed out of Native American political organizations that were formed hundreds of years ago in the southeastern United States.    It is currently located within Oklahoma but was forcibly removed from its former location during the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century.  The day to day business transactions of the nation were usually held in a Council House, a building and public space. When the Nation was removed to Indian Territories, the Creek Nation Council House was rebuilt in 1878 in what is now Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  This paper describes a collaborative effort between the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and The University of Tulsa to restore and develop the Council House in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  We conducted an archaeological and historical context.  The archaeological and historical context was designed to identify the materials, construction type, and history of the use of the building so that further public information and engagement can be developed.

Christine Thompson and Kevin C. Nolan
“Building Relationships, Research, and Collaboration in the former Northwest Territory”

We present a case study of attempting to bring an understanding of the Native American role into an official historical interpretive narrative. We began with a recognition that half of the story was missing from many traditional historical accounts and worked to build out a fuller narrative. Our archaeological research has reshaped the understanding of two Northwest Indian War battles and begun to incorporate the Native American side into the narrative. We have made mistakes; however, our mistakes in many cases have helped us establish relationships with tribal members. In combination with our NAGPRA consultations, our research has allowed us to start building relationships that have made our analysis richer and more meaningful, and our research more complete. This case study is only the beginning, and we hope the finished product can serve as a template (general or specific) for future truly collaborative endeavors spurred by research questions important to individual tribes.  The Applied Anthropology Laboratories at Ball State University has conducted six years of research at the site of two Northwest Indian War conflicts, the Battle of the Wabash (1791) and the Battle of Fort Recovery (1794).  Although our research has always strived to respect and give an accurate and fair Native American perspective, we have come to realize that our previous six year effort is only a foundation for true tribal partnership and collaboration. We present a summary of our previous research process and results, our current efforts to develop relationships with tribal partners and collaborators, and highlight how we can use the relationships and framework that has come from our Northwest Indian Wars research to initiate future collaborative endeavors.

Angela Cooper
“Visitors’ Preconceptions of Native Americans at Museums”

During the 18th century, European-Americans created a myth regarding the earthen mounds found throughout the eastern United States.  This myth indicated that a western people, possibly the Lost Tribe of Israel, had inhabited North America and established cities throughout this region.  They then succumbed to Native American savagery and brutality and were eradicated.  The European-Americans did not and could not believe that the ancestors of the Native Americans built the mounds, despite the Native Americans claims of the mounds.  Over time, archaeologists, such as Cyrus Thomas, disproved the myth by conducting excavations and demonstrated the cultural similarities between the mound building Native Americans and the Native Americans of the region.  The Smithsonian Institution published the research, and archaeologists no longer used the myth to conduct research.  Although archaeologists since then have condemned, dismissed, and constantly disproved the myth, this misconception is still prevalent in today’s society.  Many people still believe that non-Native American Indians built the mounds, and these non-Natives include the Lost Tribe of Israel, Mormons, Vikings, giants, and aliens.  Other people recognize that pre-contact Native Americans constructed the mounds and cities, but that they disappeared or went extinct.  From both groups, they do not recognize the cultural continuity from the mound building people to historic Native Americans and to contemporary Native American Indians.  My dissertation research will examine whether museums combat or perpetuate the myth of the mound builders, what preconceptions visitors have of Native Americans and their mound-building ancestors, whether their preconceptions change after visiting a tribal or mound site museums, and what museums can do to begin changing preconceptions of Native Americans.  This paper will discuss these points and the research I have completed thus far.

Cameron Shriver
“Opening Doors to Indian Country: the Perspective of an Early-Career Academic”

Many early-career scholars, including graduate students and their advisors, recognize the value in community engagement. This is particularly true for those writing about indigenous people, who are underrepresented in academia while at the same time increasingly important to historical, cultural, medical, psychological, and other topics of research.

My path toward collaboration may be instructive to other early career scholars who want to be engaged in collaboration but struggle to know where to begin. I am not an expert on collaborative work, nor will I take that stance. However, I have experiences worth sharing in order to begin a conversation about the process of building academic-tribal relationships. Those experiences include participation in two respected collaborative institutions: Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Initiative and the Myaamia Center at Miami University. While I tend to recall my path toward collaboration as a series of happy accidents, in hindsight, I have been opening doors for nearly a decade, which I will describe more fully in my paper. I will also incorporate “best practices” guidelines from other disciplines, with examples.

Several choices, as well as some privileges, have steered me to an office at the Myaamia Center and a research contract with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. This work includes a growing number of projects driven both by academic and tribal goals (which of course are not mutually exclusive). More importantly than an authoritative prescription for community-engaged scholarship, my goal is to catalyze conversations about how academics can open doors in their own work. After all, if we want more collaboration in research writ large, it will be beneficial to share how Native and non-Native researchers might go about such a project.

George Ironstrack and Bobbe Burke
“A History of the Myaamia Center”

The Myaamia Center is an initiative of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma located within the academic context of Miami University. The Center has two main objectives. First, at the direction of the Miami Tribe, the Center pursues research related to language and culture revitalization and develops educational models, materials, and programs to further that effort. Second, the Center exposes undergraduates to this effort in a variety of ways. Where possible, the Center guides the direct involvement of undergraduates in research initiatives and in the creation of educational materials. From its inception, the work of the Center was interdisciplinary. As a result, initiatives have involved students and faculty in departments as wide ranging as Architecture, Educational Psychology, Geography, Biology, and Computer Science.  The Center, which began as the Myaamia Project in 2001, is the result of a forty-year relationship between the Miami Tribe and Miami University. The trust built over the first thirty years of the relationship, created a context in which the Center could grow organically and develop in form and function to meet the needs of both the Tribe and the University. Only at that point, did the operations of the Center become more codified through a Memorandum of Understanding (2006) and a Memorandum of Agreement (2008). In this paper, we will outline the history of the Myaamia Center, describe past research initiatives that were both productive and good examples of collaboration, and conclude by highlighting a few current projects that may also serve as good models for tribal communities and universities interested in collaboration of this type.