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Oregon Multicultural Archives: Oregon Tribal Archives Institute, 2012

The Oregon Tribal Archives Institute (TAI) was the culmination of a two-year grant project developed by the Oregon Multicultural Archives dedicated to assisting Oregon's nine federally recognized tribes with their archives and records management needs. TAI took place in August of 2012 with the goals of providing Oregon's tribal archivists and records managers with professional development and networking opportunities through a week-long training.

Developing and Organizing an Archival Education Training Opportunity for Oregon’s Tribal Communities: The Oregon Tribal Archives Institute

In 2012 Oregon State University hosted the Oregon Tribal Archives Institute (OTAI), a week-long archival education training opportunity specifically designed for Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes. This article describes the OTAI project development, organization, and implementation. The authors offer various lessons learned that can be applied by others who wish to offer a similar archival education institute.

Citation: Fernández, N. & Lewis, D. (2015). Developing and Organizing an Archival Education Training Opportunity for Oregon’s Tribal Communities: The Oregon Tribal Archives Institute. Journal of Western Archives, 6(1), Article 5.

Project Overview

The OTAI was a project made possible by a two year Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Oregon State Library. The Institute was designed to address the need for an affordable, in-depth archives and records management training for Oregon's nine federally recognized tribes in order to support, as well as to facilitate, the preservation of Oregon's tribal nations' cultural sovereignty through their archival collections and records. The first year of the project focused on conducting site visits with all nine tribes' records and archives personnel to create needs assessment reports based on discussions with staff and tours of the facilities; the end of the first and beginning of the second year focused on designing a curriculum based on these needs in order to plan and host the Institute.

The Tribal Archives Institute Team included members of Oregon State University's Special Collections and Archives Research Center staff: Natalia Fernández, Oregon Multicultural Librarian, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, Instruction and Public Services Archivist, Larry Landis, Director of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, along with Laura Cray, TAI Intern and Oregon State University History of Science Ph.D. candidate.

In October of 2012, the TAI team gave a presentation as part of the OSU Libraries' Library Faculty Association Seminar Series. Watch the presentation here

On October 29, 2012, the team received the OSU University Outreach and Engagement 2012 Vice Provost Award for Excellence for Diversity. For details on the award, see The OSU Diversity Award Team

Oregon Tribal Archives Network

The Oregon Tribal Archives Network was developed based on a discussion during TAI and was launched in September of 2012. The network is designed to facilitate communication among tribal archivists, records managers, and culture keepers in order to ask questions, share resources, and celebrate their work.

The communication methods for the Network include a Facebook Page, open to the public, and a Listserv, specifically for the TAI attendees and facilitators.

First Year: Site Visits and Curriculum Development

Site Visits

One of the main goals of the project was to meet with the tribes to specifically address their archival education needs. During the summer of 2011, TAI team members Landis, Fernández, and Cray traveled to each of the nine tribes to meet with archivists, records managers, and any other tribal staff interested in the project. On several occasions James Fox, the Director of the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives, joined the TAI team for the site visits.

The site visits were a unique opportunity to discuss individual archival and records management programs as well as to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones with members of each of the tribes.

Summer 2011 Site Visits:

Curriculum Development

Over the course of the months following the site visits, Fernández and Landis, along with Edmunson-Morton, met regularly as the TAI curriculum team and used the site visit reports to identify session topics, potential facilitators, and activities for Institute attendees.

The TAI curriculum team worked with Jennifer O'Neal, one of the Institute's lead facilitators and David Lewis, who co-lead several sessions. Prior to the Institute, O'Neal was the Head Archivist for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center. As of September 2012, O'Neal is the University of Oregon Libraries' Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist. Lewis is the Tribal Museum Curator/ Cultural Liaison of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

The TAI team also met with staff of the UO Libraries including James Fox; Nathan Georgitis, a librarian and archivist who manages the UO Folklore Program’s Archives of Northwest Folklore; Karen Estlund, the Head of Digital Library Services for the UO Libraries and the Project Director for the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program; and Kira Homo, the UO Electronic Records Archivist. Georgitis provided his expertise via webcasts regarding sound recordings and Estlund and Homo co-lead various sessions.

Because communication and feedback was very important, the curriculum team sent regular updates to all of the people they met with during the summer visits and worked to incorporate the tribes' responses. With the addition of Laura Cray resuming her role of TAI intern in the summer of 2012, the curriculum team also acted as the TAI planning committee which organized the Institute's logistics.

Second Year: The Institute

The Oregon State University Libraries in Corvallis hosted the week long Institute, Sunday August 19 through Friday the 24th, 2012. Eighteen tribal archivists and records managers representing all nine tribes attended. The week long Institute included many of the elements professional archival organizations plan for their conferences including opening and closing dinners, field trips, and opportunities for hands on learning. For three of the five days the Institute took place in The OSU Valley Library classrooms, and for two of the days the group took field trips to the Siletz and Grand Ronde tribal communities and the Benton County Museum to look at their archival and museum facilities.

The Institute began with an opening dinner for the attendees and TAI staff members to reconnect, and Jennifer O'Neal gave a keynote address about her journey as a tribal archivist. The next morning the sessions began. Over the course of the next five days, the training included training sessions on a variety of archival topics. The closing dinner took place at Grand Ronde's Spirit Mountain Casino and included a closing address by Dr. George B. Wasson, a Coquille Tribal Elder, who told stories, read poems, and discussed his experiences researching and gathering tribal history using archives. Notably, even after a week of intensive trainings and activities, on the last day of the Institute the participants were ready to make plans to keep in touch and meet again.

The TAI Program is Available Online

For photos and more information on the Institute, see the blog posts on the OMA Blog: