The 2010 TLAM class, along with some guests, visited the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin near Green Bay.
We drove up north for our day visit early one winter morning in mid-February from Madison. In the morning we were welcomed warmly by those at the Oneida Community Library (Director Louis Williams Sr, Assistant Director Wanda Boivin, Youth Services Coordinator Kymberley Pelky, Kim Cackowski, and Brooke Beltran) and enjoyed hearing about what they are doing for youth services, language incorporation, inter-library loan, and local projects such as the community family photo collection. We also enjoyed visiting with everyone over some very delicious hull corn soup that Wanda made for our visit. Yaw^?ko’ Wanda!
After a very nice morning at the library we continued to our next visit which was at Records Management with Stephen Webster. We were able to see the RM facilities and had a good discussion about records management and the system, challenges, and solutions they’ve been coming up with at Oneida and how the archive has become an evident cross-section and partner to work with in assessing the materials. Steve is doing really great work there! It was very nice to hear from a practicing records manager, especially for those TLAM students who have taken the records management course, but also for those who were unaware of the realm of records management departments.
We enjoyed a plentiful lunch at the cafeteria of the tribal high school and Norbert Hill Center administration building just on the other side of the building from Records Management. We were also joined by a few community members and some TLAM guests for lunch and for the rest of the afternoon. We stopped to shop at Tsyunhehkwa on our way to our afternoon visits… several people found useful medicinal and other local products to purchase.
The afternoon consisted of a very nice visit to the Language House where the Language Revitalization Program is located (click here for an interactive language learning lessons and here for more history about Oneida language revitalization). Leander Danforth, who is currently teaching the language there through the language revitalization program, visited with us and gave us a small language lesson, in particular working through the 75 ways to conjugate an example of one noun! We also enjoyed listening to him speak about the importance of keeping the language alive and thus also Oneida culture, identity, and history. Tracy Williams, who is also a coordinator of the language revitalization program, played some clips of the WPA oral history recordings of one of the featured fluent speakers from the project. These recordings, as well as the very few first language speakers that are still around, have been very valuable resources to work with for those trying to learn Oneida today. It was so nice to hear those recordings and to learn a bit of Oneida from Leander. Yaw^?ko’- for so generously sharing your time and knowledge with us. Rae and Lu are really inspired to get more involved with their Oneida language learning and feel very proud of the work you’re doing for the community. A TLAM student of ours also felt inspired by your program for her own community’s language learning strategies.
After the language house we spent some time at the Cultural Heritage Department and Archive. Oneida Cultural Heritage Historical Researcher Nic Reynolds shared the afternoon and spoke with us about Oneida’s Archive, the department, and future plans for the archive and the community regarding the overall plans for the Cultural Heritage Department and all that is within. He also showed us several interesting archival items in their collection. Charlie Doxtater, Language Intern at Cultural Heritage, also shared the afternoon with us and while at Cultural Heritage he spoke with us about the computer transcription work he is doing with the WPA stories that are written in Oneida. Additionally he shared with us two of the language learning tools in a series that he, Nic, and Michelle Danforth (Media Specialist at Oneida Cultural Heritage) have put together (click on the link to watch the short videos)… Charlie the Talking Frog: Counting 1-10 and Charlie the Talking Bear: Ways to say hello and bear, turtle, and wolf. Dr. Carol Cornelius, Director of the Oneida Cultural Heritage Department, also addressed the group and welcomed us to the community. Reggie Doxtater, Oneida Archivist, additionally was present to speak with us and before we left the house, as we were getting ready to head over to the museum, we were able to connect up with Loretta Metoxen, Oneida Tribal Historian. She had just finished one of many interviews that she is often asked to do. Loretta is a great resource, and such a kind person. She knows such a wealth of information, particularly pertaining to past and present Oneida history here in Wisconsin.
On our way between Cultural Heritage and the museum, we stopped to visit some sites. One of which was the site of where controversial missionary Eleazar Williams is said to be buried. There we also talked with Nic about some of the controversies and issues that face the community today, not just things that are rooted in history but also things that have developed between neighboring communities in recent times.
We finished the day with a visit to the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin Museum. Even though during the time of our visit the museum was closed for several weeks during the process of their changing over to a few new exhibits, we were able to coordinate with Lead Museum Educator Josh Gerzetich (UW-Madison alum), and Assistant Director/Collection Manager Sara Summers, to be able to visit with them, take a tour given by Josh of the exhibits that were still in place, and see their process while they changed the other exhibits. A very valuable experience to see some of the behind the scenes processes and to discuss advice especially for our students who are gearing themselves towards museum work and those who share a general interest.
Yaw^?ko’ to everyone who contributed and shared in this wonderful day! It was so good to see you all and we look forward to seeing you again!
[Click on the images below to see a larger version and to scroll through this photo gallery from the trip].
Photos contributed by Josie Lee (2010 TLAM student).