T H E M E S S E N G E R , W I N T E R 2 0 1 3
The Oregon Tribal
Archives Institute
by Natalia Fernández, Tiah Edmunson-Morton, and Larry Landis
rom August 19
to the 24
, the OSU Libraries’
Special Collections & Archives Research Center
(SCARC) hosted the Oregon Tribal Archives
Institute (TAI), a project made possible by a two year
Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the
Oregon State Library. The Institute was designed to ad-
dress the need for affordable, in-depth archives and records
management training for Oregon’s nine federally recog-
nized tribes in order to support, as well as to facilitate, the
preservation of Oregon’s tribal nations’ cultural sover-
eignty through their archival collections and records.
SCARC has a history of working to preserve multicultural
archives from around the state. The Valley Library houses
the Oregon Multicultural Archives, which assists in pre-
serving the histories and sharing the stories that document
Oregon’s African American, Asian American, Latino/a,
and Native American communities. In working with
Oregon’s tribal communities over the past ten years,
SCARC staff was made aware that archives and records
management training was much needed. With letters of
support from various tribes across the state, in 2010 the
OSU Libraries applied for LSTA funds, and early in 2011
the two year project began. 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 second year focused on designing a curricu-
lum based on these needs in order to plan and host a week
long training institute.
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, SCARC director
Larry Landis, Oregon Multicultural Librarian Natalia
Fernández, and TAI intern Laura Cray traveled to each of
the nine tribes to meet with archivists, records managers,
and any other tribal staff interested in the project. 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. Over the course of the
months following those visits, Landis and Fernández,
along with SCARC’s Instruction and Public Services Ar-
chivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton, met regularly as the TAI
curriculum team to identify session topics, potential facili-
tators, and activities for Institute attendees. Because com-
munication and feedback were very important, they 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 as a summer
2012 TAI intern, the curriculum team also acted as the
TAI planning committee which organized the Institute’s
The week long Institute included many of the elements
professional archival organizations plan for their confer-
ences including opening and closing dinners, field trips,
and opportunities for hands on learning.
The Institute began with an opening dinner for the
eighteen attendees and TAI staff members to reconnect.
Jennifer O’Neal, who at the time was the Head Archivist
for The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the
American Indian, gave a keynote address about her jour-
ney as a tribal archivist. The next morning the sessions
began. Over the course of the next five days, the training
included sessions on identifying grant funding opportuni-
ties and grant writing tips; collections management sys-
tems options; facilities planning; disaster preparedness
planning and recovery; best practices for proper care and
storage of archival materials; electronic records manage-
ment and preservation; records retention and collection
development policies; access levels to tribal records avail-
Elizabeth Nielsen, SCARC staff member, demonstrating best practices for
audio/visual materials.
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