Talking Story: Sharing Our Stories for the Past and Future

Presenter: Brian McInnes

Stories have been valued by Anishinaabe peoples since time immemorial. Whether through legend, sacred teaching, anecdote, or personal recollection, our narratives have served as sources of wisdom, joy, strength, and life. Stories can give words their deepest meanings, and remind us of the significance of the cultural places, products, and practices that fill our lives. Stories illuminate everything from birth through death, and perhaps as importantly for Indigenous cultures, all that comes before and after. We seek out stories like a plant does sunlight. They seem vital for our growth and continued well-being.

Stories remain important to the continued well-being and existence of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. But like so many casualties of forced assimilation and modernity the vitality of storytelling traditions has also come under threat. The near loss of Native languages – which inherently preserved the unique rhythm and context of community stories – has further contributed to the depletion of many cultural traditions. In the broad contemporary renewal of culture, Indigenous peoples are strengthening their traditions through the art of talking story. Through openly and intentionally sharing stories, so too are all elements and components of culture given strength and renewal. Finding ways to authentically and sustainably share stories is a question for both Native communities and education-focused institutions in ensuring that Indigenous languages, traditions, and the stories that encapsulate these rich meanings are shared indefinitely into the future.

Panel or table discussions:

  1. What kinds of stories are unique to Indigenous traditions and communities?
  2. How are stories and storytelling different according to Native American custom?
  3. What are some important stories/ favorite stories/ different kinds of stories?
  4. What are the various ways we can preserve stories (along with any associated ideas/ concerns)?
  5. How can we ensure that young people become involved with storytelling traditions again?  What are some strategies?  What are some of the stories that they need to know at various stages of their lives, and how can we help them?


Workshop and Class Offerings

Connectedness: Fostering a Garden through Librarianship, Cultural Preservation, and Service Learning
Making NAGPRA Practical
A Pocketful of Resources: A Library Programming Exchange
Working with Community Artists
Library Tech: Digital Tools for Advocacy and Programming
Bridging the Digital Divide: Basic Guidelines and Best Practices for Digitization Projects
Caring for Your Museum’s Collection: A Team-Based Approach
Creating Exhibitions through the Collective: Insight into Community Co-Curation
Preparing for Museum Disasters: Risk Assessment and Building a Disaster Supply Cache for Your Collection
Processing Archives 101
Program Evaluation: An Introduction for Tribal Cultural Professionals

Workshops are 2.5 hours long and will be on Sunday afternoon.

Connectedness: Fostering a Garden through
Librarianship, Cultural Preservation, and Service Learning

Instructors: Claudia Seymour, Rebecca Dallinger, and Mark Holman

How do seeds, gardens, and healing relate to archives, librarians, and museums?

Claudia Seymour and Rebecca Dallinger from White Earth Tribal and Community College in partnership with Mark Holman from Sitting Bull College will present experiences and lessons learned in creating garden spaces at their institutions. Attendees will build on this by engaging with questions that will help in the visioning and planning of locally appropriate garden spaces in a guided exercise. A part of this, will involve actively creating signage, using provided art materials, to highlight the purpose of the garden as well as engage the local community in taking ownership of the space.

Learning Objective:

Participants will take practical knowledge in how to create and design a community driven medicinal and/or vegetable garden through handouts and examples. There will also be as several intergenerational cultural activities, including making youth-inspired garden signage and sewing quilt stories.

Making NAGPRA Practical

Instructors: Shannon Martin and Willie Johnson

Did you just discover a museum holds cultural items from your community? This workshop will introduce attendees to the basics of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), including the key elements of who must comply, what items are covered, and who may make claims. But more importantly, it will attempt to make NAGPRA practical. Based on the experience of the Saginaw Chippewa Community, attendees will learn best practices for engaging with Elders, tribal political leaders, and non-tribal cultural institutions in order to make informed, community-guided decisions regarding repatriation.

A Pocketful of Resources: A Library Programming Exchange

Instructor: Sandy Tharp-Thee

This session encourages all attendees to bring (and exchange!) their best library programs. By the end of the session, participants will leave with new ideas and tools for creating, marketing, and sustaining successful library programming.

Sandy Tharp-Thee, Library Director for the Iowa Tribe, known for creating programs with little or no funding, will begin the session by sharing some of her projects that any tribal library can duplicate, free and funding resources––things like…

  • Community GED Program – challenges, rewards and funding
  • Storytime, Reading Programs and Moving Library – reaching the youngest patron
  • Gathering Hope – Providing an Afterschool Program – challenges and rewards
  • Outreach to homebound Elders

Working with Community Artists

Instructors: Ben Gessner, Rita Walaszek, David Briese, and Travis Zimmerman

This workshop will look at how the Minnesota Historical Society engages American Indian artists, through it’s collections, programs, retail operations and exhibits. Staff from the History Center in St. Paul and from the Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post will share the various ways in which they connect with American Indian artists to preserve Minnesota’s history, heritage and culture and support the Minnesota Historical Society’s mission of “using the power of history to transform lives”.

Participants will also hear from Native American Artist In Residence participants Pat Kruse, and Jessica Gokey

Classes are 5 hours long and will be on Monday and Tuesday.

Bridging the Digital Divide: Basic Guidelines and Best Practices for Digitization Projects

Instructor: Jeanine Nault

Do you worry that your collection of photographs an d paper materials will be lost forever because they haven’t been scanned?

Do the words “digitization” and “metadata” sound foreign or scary?

If you answered “YES!” to any of the previous questions, then this is the workshop for you. This 5-hour workshop will provide a basic introduction and hands-on practice for understanding and implementing the digitization of two-dimensional objects such as photographs, letters, and newspapers. The workshop will take a holistic approach to digitization, covering such topics as project management, image creation, metadata, and access. Participants are encouraged to bring in their own materials they wish to digitize. By the end of the workshop, the practice of digitization will be demystified, and participants will have created and executed a basic digitization workflow they can use in their own communities.

Caring for Your Museum’s Collection: A Team-Based Approach

Instructor: Holly Cusack-McVeigh

Let’s help our host, Travis, and learn something in the process! This class will provide hands-on training at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum on a number of museum topics, including physical care (object handling, storage, environmental monitoring, pest management, emergency preparedness and preventive conservation). Students will work collaboratively in a team-based learning and problem solving approach to integrating current museum best practices in collections care. Please dress appropriately for a day of hands-on projects.

Creating Exhibitions through the Collective: Insight into Community Co-Curation

Instructor: Saul Sopoci Drake

Want to create an exhibit that utilizes your community?

If so, this session of Creating Exhibitions through the Collective is for you. Throughout the day we will be focused on community co-curation. We will investigate how community involvement during all stages of the exhibit development process can lead to more credible interpretation, community empowerment and advocacy. Tips and strategies will be provided to build sustainable frameworks for this type of engagement.

The topics covered in this class are heavily dependent on seeking out a multitude of community voices and developing strategies for external participatory engagements in a collective manner. Participants will be encouraged to generate ideas in group break-out sessions and discussing new strategies.

Learning Objectives:

Class participants will learn methods and strategies for:

Community Co-Curation/The Community Process

  1. Exhibit Team: Building a community based exhibitions team
  2. Exhibit Process
    1. Initial Outreach
    2. Exhibit Development
    3. Research and Gathering
    4. Exhibit Design
    5. Exhibit Opening
    6. Follow up
  3. Community Advisory Committees
    1. Outreaching to Potential CAC Members
    2. Selecting CAC Members
    3. Partnership Examples

Library Tech: Digital Tools for Advocacy and Programming

Instructors: Robin Amado and Jenny McBurney

There are a ton of free digital tools available to help you tell the story of your library and develop engaging programming for your patrons. This hands-on workshop for beginners will explore digital tools for making videos, basic websites, and flyers/posters. We will have demonstrations of each tool along with guided creation time, and you’ll leave with things you can use right away in your library. On top of all that, you’ll earn badges to show off your new skills.

Participants will:

  • Learn how to use free digital tools for library programming
  • Complete a series of short projects using each tool and earn badges
  • Develop a “portfolio” of tools and skills that you can come back to for future reference
  • Discuss and take with you a list of ideas for future programming and library advocacy

Preparing for Museum Disasters: Risk Assessment and Building a Disaster Supply Cache for Your Collection

Instructor: Elisa Redman

It is vital to have a specialized cache of supplies available in an emergency, along with an institutional Emergency Preparedness/Disaster Plan. One can seldom predict when a disaster will strike, and most disasters do not provide the time or opportunity for removal of art and artifacts. By having special Disaster supply kits in place, valuable time can be saved in protecting art and artifacts from irreparable damage.

This workshop will cover the basics on how to assemble the essential tools and materials needed for small emergency supply kits, as well as how to build a bigger cache for larger-scale disasters. The workshop will also cover: Health & Safety guidelines; using a Risk Assessment of your institution to determine what supplies are needed; and how to use supply kits in conjunction with a Disaster Plan and salvage operation. Designed for small and mid-sized institutions with limited staff and time, this workshop also includes practical instruction in conducting a risk analysis of the host building and the collection. Participants will create a Disaster Plan outline for the individual’s own cultural institution, with an emphasis on the WestPAS Short-Form Disaster Plan template.

Processing Archives 101

Instructor: Jennifer O’Neal

Have you ever wondered what to do with a new archival collection? Do you get overwhelmed with where to start and the various steps in processing a collection? This workshop will provide a basic introduction and hands-on practice for processing an archival collection, including various physical formats such as records, letters, newspapers, and photographs. The course will take a very practical approach to accessioning, preservation, and arrangement and description. Thus, participants should bring in their own boxes of materials to practice processing an archival collection. The instructor will also highlight methods for separating oversize and/or culturally sensitive materials from the collection. By the end of the workshop participants will be able to successfully organize and describe a collection for use in their own communities.

Program Evaluation: An Introduction for Tribal Cultural Professionals

Instructor: Nicole MartinRogers

Program evaluation 101 is for curators, librarians, tribal historical preservation officers, and others working to preserve American Indian cultural artifacts and history.

In this hands-on session, participants will learn the basics of program evaluation including how to develop and use logic models, evaluation plans, and evaluation tools like surveys, observations, and administrative records. This will include understanding, developing, and using culturally relevant data gathering approaches. We will explore various approaches to evaluation, including standard process and outcomes evaluation, developmental evaluation, and evaluation that uses an Indigenous framework and/or culturally-based methods. We will review relevant program evaluations and tools that have been completed for the Minnesota Historical Society and other groups. We will give participants an opportunity to work on a logic model and evaluation plan for their project.

Participants should come to this session with a real-life initiative, program, or exhibit that they want/need to evaluate. Participants will leave the session with a better understanding of the language of evaluation (outputs , outcomes, etc.) as well as increased confidence to carry out program evaluations. Participants will particularly have an opportunity to learn how Indigenous frameworks can enhance evaluations in tribal settings. Participants will learn how to accurately and effectively report evaluation results to various audiences, including internal teams, organizational leadership, funders, and public audiences, as well as how to assess/interpret evaluations completed by others. Finally, participants will leave this session prepared to work with and manage external evaluators.