Today was an interesting class in that we all met at the University Club. We were joined by Ryan Comfort (Recruitment & Retention Specialist [Student Diversity Programs]) and his assistant Aaron Bird-Bear, Tracy Peterson (American Indian Student Academic Services), and Janice Rice (former AILA president and pretty much Jedi-master in the art of the Native library).
Ryan was very interested in the bibliography we are compiling for TLAM, as he is attempting to do something similar himself. (He mentioned a collaboration on the bibliography should be in order and then he would publish the result, or at least make it available to those interested.) Overall, Ryan seemed very excited about having a “community/student organization like TLAM” because he could envision a relationship into the future–especially since a mojority of the class will be returning students next year. (It is worth noting, too, that Mr. Comfort expressed to Omar and I that he will be contacting professors at SLIS about TLAM to find out who may want to get involved in the future.)
Ryan & Tracy just returned from a visit to Potawatomi’s museum. (Incidentally, Ryan and Tracy are undertaking visiting all the tribes [several times] in WI to open communications and encourage tribes to consider artifacts that would be representative of their tribes for a project.) Although Tracy doesn’t have formal background in librarianship, he has worked on a native library project for Cornell (I believe he cited a library which no longer exists in Brooklyn?) in which he acted as a Native representative.
Tracy is, essentially, a person who knows many people–if TLAM is looking to track down people in a certain area or field in the future, then Tracy could be an asset.
It also came to our attention, thanks to Janice, that Tracy and Ryan brought gifts of tobacco to the Potawatomie’s–and was much appreciated by the elders. This brings up the question: Do we need to do something of this nature for our own TLAM trips–or would this be inappropriate? Obviously, a gift of some sort would be something to consider for their time.
Misc.: Janice mentioned today in her talk that as a child in Tomah, Inidans did not have interaction with the library. In fact, her mother would drop her off and wait for her in the parking lot while she went in. (Outside Tomah, Janice also cited a library where native children were more or less banned from the library.) It wasn’t until Janice hit undergraduate at LaCrosse and Eau Claire that she discovered the amazing resources of a library. Janice took some library classes in undergrad. but majored in Ed. Eventually, she was hired as a youth services outreach consultant for a number of the small native populations in northern WI. (Subsequently, Janice went on to get two Library masters ans serve as AILA president and now works as the Native American collection manager at College Library.)
As she alluded to in her presentation, it was in her role as a consultant for the library that she began to realize how the library was non-existent to her as a child; but then, as a student and adult, she could see how she wanted to bring the library to others in the Native American community. This realization launched her native-focused librarian career, really–as well as that of other formative figures like Loriene Roy and Lotsee Patterson.
-In Janice’s words: “Many up in Indian country don’t respond to e-mail; the phone or in-person is what they respond to.”