I left Florida bound for the Oral History Association Conference in Louisville Kentucky where I presented a paper called “Native American Oral Tradition v. Oral History: Dispelling Myths, Saving Language, Non-traditional Methods, and Unlikely Interpretations.” My paper highlighted some of the distinctions between oral history and oral traditions. The paper was well received and opened the door for future discussions about how Native Americans define Oral History.
I then flew right from Kentucky to Portland, Oregon for the Tribal Archives Libraries and Museums (TALM) conference. I taught back to back 4 hour workshops- Oral History for Beginners and Intermediate to Advanced Oral History. The room was jam packed with people from Tribes all over the country and their employees. Everyone was so enthusiastic to learn about Oral History and how to start a program, develop projects, use the latest technology, interview techniques, and much more.
Some of the biggest concerns other Tribes had was collections access, language, and technology. Participants talked about problems they were all facing with collections management, technological advances, and ethics. In the end, participants walked away from the workshop with better understanding of Oral History, methods, technology, and everyone made connections with other people.
Pedro Zepeda, the Museum’s Traditional Art Coordinator, and I are presenting about using oral histories in museums and Traditional Arts later on in the conference. We look forward to assisting other Tribes as they grow and develop their own programs. Another plus of attending the conference is looking forward to learning and being inspired by the work of other Tribes as well.