Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Historic Truths and Reconciliation: Interpreting Indigenous and Other Difficult Histories"

James Gage writes:

I came across this rather interesting document titled "Historic Truths and Reconciliation: Interpreting Indigenous and Other Difficult Histories" [Click here for the pdf] It consists of five case studies being presented at the 2009 National Council on Public History Conference. The theme amongst all five papers is how to include the Native American perspective in the public interpretation of historic events and sites. It discusses the challenges, successes, failures and the lessons so far learned from these ongoing efforts.

1. "Case Study: The Great Falls as a Contest Landscape" - A very insightful discussion of the Turner Falls Airport decision. It has a lot information and details not covered by Timmerick's film or the newspapers.

2. A synopsis of a dissertation (in progress) on the U.S. - Dakota (Sioux) War of 1862. The dissertation is focusing on how this event is being commerated and the continuing racial tensions that exist 150 years later.

3. This case study discusses the National Park Services efforts to add a Native American interpretative program at the Mount Rushmore site. It is excellent blueprint for how to actively engage the Native American community in the interpretation of Native American culture, history, and events.

4. This case study deals with issues of handling Native Americans materials found in historical archives.

5. "Hassanmesit - Collaboration as a Tool of Reconciliation" - This case study brings us back to New England, specifically the Town of Grafton, Massachusetts. It goes into detail about the collaborative efforts between the Town of Grafton and the Nipmuc Tribe to save and interpret the site of a Praying Village. This case studies concludes with this rather insightful statement "So, what does this tell us about interpreting Native American sites and history? The answer is straight forward: it is all about building collaborative partnerships to share in the story. It is about bringing communities together, based on mutual respect. It is about the use of collaboration as a tool for reconciliation where truths can be revealed when all share in the process." - Chuck Arning, National Park Service

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