Posted by: tlam999 | February 18, 2011

History, Media, and Stories – TLAM Week 3

For the third week of TLAM, we looked at the topics of Wisconsin tribal histories, media, and storytelling. Class began with a continuation of the discussion from the panel at last week’s screening of “Reel Injun.” Like the panelists, many of us were concerned with the issue of how to present depictions of Native Americans in Hollywood movies and TV to children in a way that can create a positive learning experience. We liked that the documentary ended on a positive note by showing that more Native actors and filmmakers were beginning to tell their own stories, using media as a positive force. This discussion provided a good set-up for our guest of the week, Patty Loew, whose book Indian Nations of Wisconsin we had just finished reading.

Patty had just recently returned from a trip to Mozambique, where she been helping to train community-based journalists. She made an insightful parallel between Native American cultures and the people of Mozambique regarding challenges they face not only in acquiring and transmitting information because of the widening digital divide, but also in how to educate the next generation in traditional culture.

For the rest of the class we learned about how the Tribal Youth Media camp at Lac Courte Orielles, which Patty helped to create, helps Ojibwe children learn about science in ways that integrates with their culture’s traditional methods of learning. A major problem that Patty sees is the tremendous disconnect between Native children and the field of science, partly due to the fact that the way science is taught in ways that aren’t compatible with traditional Native American culture and worldviews. The lack of Native people with a scientific background is especially problematic because today there is a great need for tribes to have scientists that can help them protect their natural resources. At the camp Patty told us about, Native culture leads science, including ethics and values with the other information the kids learned.

The Tribal Youth Media program linked well to the chapter from Donald Lee Fixico’s The American Indian Mind in a Linear World that we read for class this week. Fixico explains the important role of oral tradition and traditional knowledge in teaching Native American history and culture. Storytelling conveys “values, ideas, beliefs [and] insights about the community,” and also serves a relational purpose, connecting people and places. I could easily see how this idea of storytelling and traditional knowledge was integrated into the experience of the science camp at LCO.

Finally, the class went to the Tribal Youth Media website where we watched one of the videos created by the kids, which incorporated both scientific research and interviews with tribal elders. They did an amazing job! Thanks again to Patty Loew for sharing this with us.

– Kelly

Posted by: tlam999 | February 17, 2011

Reel Injun Trailer

Posted by: tlam999 | February 17, 2011

Language, History, and Reel Injuns – TLAM 2011 Week 2

We began our classroom journey this week in the company of Rand Valentine, associate professor of American Indian studies and linguistics, here at UW-Madison. Valentine came to speak to us about the ever-present need to fight a battle to save Native cultures, not only in our own country but all around the world. Although many languages have already been lost, there are a few that are involved in efforts towards revival here in our region. One of our teachers, Omar Poler has been learning his own beautiful and complex language, Ojibwe, with Valentine. We had a chance to read many insightful articles on Native languages and began reading Patty Loew’s book, Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal. Rand Valentine enthusiastically taught us about the many ways in which Ojibwe is one of the most sophisticated languages that he has ever encountered. We all listened intently, captivated with Valentine’s highly contagious exuberance and moved by his thoughtful presentation.

We also had the opportunity to watch a movie at the Chazen Museum of Art, here on the UW-Madison campus, called Reel Injun. We were presented first with a short film produced by the Screen Actors Guild, and its President’s National Task Force for American Indians which is chaired by the immensely charming, intelligent and talented actress, Delanna Studi, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. We were lucky enough to be joined by Delanna as one of the three accomplished presenters who were asked to lead a panel discussion after the film was shown.

We all sat in a theatre full of people from all different places, and cultures. My husband and I, a white couple of German-American descent, could have felt very uncomfortable sitting in the front row; instead, we were made to feel incredibly warm, and welcomed into the conversation. J.D. , our emcee for the evening and a graduate student here, asked us to think of what we knew or thought we knew about Native American people before the film began. He asked us to think about all of the images we had held in our minds up until that point and then after the film, he would ask us to come together and discuss what had changed.

Reel Injun is a film by the Cree documentarian, Neil Diamond. Diamond steps us through a long and complicated history of Native American actors in films, or the lack of them, from the first days in the silent era through today; when many indigenous film makers are getting recognition for their contributions to this important and far-reaching art form. What we see in the film, is that there has been a lot of ground lost along the way. Despite early positive representation in silent film, Hollywood began to stereotype the Native American in popular westerns, and even children’s cartoons. This created a dangerously skewed image and this negative depiction unfortunately still exists in the minds of the masses today. Furthermore, the film shows us through true journeys into the heart of the American West, just how much this image has damaged views of Native people’s around the world. Instead of being thought of as distinct and sovereign nations living in a contemporary world, many indigenous peoples are seen as caricatures from the past, lost in the dust and forever suspended in some daguerreotype image.  His film shows us how, through Hollywood’s lens, many people around the world view all native Americans as being Plains Indians in dress and having the same histories and cultures despite being in actuality, very distinct. Most of these films take place in the American Southwest. Movies like John Ford’s, The Searchers, create sub-human images which are then projected onto all the distict cultures of Native Americans at once—as a whole. The filmmaker travels across the country to speak with some of our real-life heroes about how they became activists who have lived to tell the real stories of many Native cultures.

After the film, we concluded with a thoughtful panel discussion by our three presenters, J.D., Delanna Studi, and Richie Plass. Plass, a member of the Menominee and Stockbridge-Munsee Nations and an educator and musician, seems to me to be one of the funniest and most sincere people on the planet. He informed us of his work, trying to fight the depiction of  American Indians as used in mascots and logos. These unfair depictions further perpetuate the stereotypes which may have been begun by Hollywood in an attempt to erase a part of American history which reflects badly on us as a nation. This history, as we all know, needs to be discussed fully and openly amongst all people and not left for Hollywood to decide. Just like our meeting at the Chazen, people need to talk about the issues to begin resolve some of these wrongs.

One of the most important parts of our discussions during this evening centered around Native actors and filmmakers increasing presence both in front of and behind the camera; writing, directing and producing these films to try and undo some of this damage. Delanna Studi is working to improve the quality of acting by making sure that Native American actors are seen by casting directors. These directors and writers can no longer say that there are no Native actors to take these roles, or to write stories for. She says that it is our duty to encourage talented writers of any age to provide good stories for the world which will help to represent Native voices in this business.

As the evening wrapped up, I looked around the room of people all chatting happily with one another and felt grateful for being invited to participate in this truly enriching event.
-Jessica Miesner
1. website for Reel Injun

2. Reel Injun at the Chazen Museum advertisement

3. Richie Plass’s Native Voices website and also his STAR page

and you can watch a little video of him here

4. Rand Valentine’s AIS faculty page

5. Website on the first 8-minute film, American Indian Actors

6. Delanna Studi IMDB

Posted by: tlam999 | February 10, 2011

Welcome to TLAM 2011!

How many tribal libraries are there in Wisconsin?

More than three years ago, when asked this simple question, a group of UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies students recognized a gap in LIS education.  We couldn’t answer the question.

Not only did most of our LIS coursework fail to include examples of how American Indian nations preserve and provide information within tribal communities, it overlooked the valuable contributions indigenous librarianship makes to the entire profession.

As a result, starting in fall 2008, ten students coordinated the first Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums course, the first-ever indigenous information offering at UW-Madison SLIS.  We invited experts from departments across campus to speak, reached out to professionals around the nation for guidance, and, importantly, personally met with tribal librarians, archivists, and museum curators in reservation communities throughout Wisconsin.  From a community of teachers, we learned some of the histories, practices, and concepts of tribal libraries, archives, and museums.  And through visiting, we felt the living, vital part of American Indian cultural institutions.

This year marks TLAM’s third offering.  Still an experimental topics course, it seeks to increase awareness of indigenous information issues within LIS, while creating long-term meaningful relationships with Wisconsin tribal cultural workers.

Check back with this blog weekly to read the impression of entirely new group of TLAM students.  Each week will feature a new student writer reflecting on course topics, guest speakers, relevant events, trips, and final group community projects.  TLAM’s success is the result of a community’s generosity.  We hope to share that gift with you.

Welcome to TLAM 2011!

-Omar Poler

By the way, we discovered that nearly all Wisconsin American Indian communities have cultural preservation institutions.  Here’s a partial list:

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).

Posted by: tlam999 | March 8, 2010

Week 3: Tribal Histories

In last week’s class, we learned about Indigenous languages and came away feeling that they’re something priceless to preserve.  This week, TLAM focused on American Indian history.  Or, as our guests emphasized, tribal histories.  Maybe a little like Indigenous languages and dialects, each community has their own unique history to document, preserve, and share.  This is just one reason why tribal libraries, archives, and museums are so important.  There’s so much to remember.

One of this week's readingsTo help us learn more about tribal histories–and the history of history–we were joined by two friends from the UW-Madison History Department.  Doug Kiel and Skott Vigil are graduate students pursuing PhDs.  Doug is studying the 20th century revitalization of the Wisconsin Oneida; Skott is studying Indian/non-Indian relations in Colorado in the 19th century.  Both provided a great overview of American Indian history, which was a great addition to one of this week’s readings, Patty Loew’s Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal.

We also talked about historiography.  Skott and Doug noted that much of American Indian history has been produced by scholars who conduct research through primary and secondary written sources, yet rarely reach out to Indian communities as a part of their study.  As a result, the published histories of tribes and Indian/white relations have often reflected non-Indian perceptions of the past.  With a new generation of scholars, this is changing.  But the history of history needs to be remembered.

Larry Nesper's bookFor the second half of class, Larry Nesper, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies, provided an overview of Indian/non-Indian relations, especially legal relations with the United States government.  He focused on the treaty making process, tracing its origins from the United States Constitution through present day court cases.  The author of Walley War: the Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights, Larry also discussed the violent reaction to a 1983 court decision that restored reserved Ojibwe treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather in northern Wisconsin’s ceded territories.

TLAMers visit LAMPers in Champaign, Illinois

TLAMers visit UIUC LAMPers. Left to right: Timothy Kaneshiro, Amani Ayad, Omar Poler, Christina Johnson, Nathan Fredrickson, Catherine Phan, and Pang Xiong

It was a great week for another reason, too!  Right after class on Wednesday (February 3), four TLAMers traveled to participate in the 5th Annual iSchools Conference at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  It was such a fun trip.  We hung out with our friends from LAMP (LIS Access Midwest Program); presented as a roundtable at the conference discussing our experience developing TLAM at UW-Madison; and were excited to met Miranda, Marisa, and Ally from the University of Washington’s Indigenous Information Research Group.  We learned so much visiting with them and especially listening to their amazing, early-Saturday morning presentation on Native Systems of Knowledge: Indigenous Methodologies in Information Science.  We are also very appreciative to have visited with Cheryl Metoyer again, also from the University of Washington.

Miranda, Marisa, Ally, and Cheryl… your work is so important!  And your advice so very appreciated!

Posted by: tlam999 | March 1, 2010

TLAM Week 2 – Language

This year’s TLAM begins with language.  There are many Indigenous languages still spoken in Wisconsin and thinking about their significance, survival, and revitalization seems like a good place to start our semester-long journey.

TLAM Spring 2010

2010 TLAM with Rand

To help us understand the importance of language, we invited Rand Valentine, the director of the American Indian Studies Program and a Professor of Linguistics at UW-Madison, to speak with us.  Rand has been a Anishinaabemowin learner, teacher, and researcher for over 20 years and has worked with communities in the US and Canada.  He has also participated for many years in the Native Language Instructors’ Program (NLIP), a summer program taught at Lakehead University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario, which certifies Ojibwe and Cree language teachers to teach in the province of Ontario.

Rand was really memorable.  He began the discussion by noting our  location on the 4th floor of Helen C. White Hall.  We have an amazing view of Lake Mendota, but we’re separated from the Earth by four floors of concrete.  And this is our contemporary norm.  Native languages, however, are the sum of thousands of years of close relationships with the land — an experience they may never happen again in human history.  Languages express the collective knowledge of countless human lives.  They reflect a deep connection to the Earth and are impossible to replace.

We also learned about language revitalization efforts.  From the Potawatomi Cultural Center Library & Museum’s impressive website and online language materials to the Ho-Chunk Immersion Daycare that’s teaching young children to be first language speakers (the first in over 50 years!), there’s a lot of important work going on in Wisconsin for language maintenance and revitalization.

From left to right: Omar Poler, Joey Awonohopay, Stephanie Dodge, Nancy Jones, Mary Louise Defender-Wilson

Speaking of revitalization, on Friday (January 29) we also had the great fortune to meet and listen to three amazing storytellers who are themselves leaders in language revitalization.  As part of the 13th Annual Evening of American Indian Storytelling event, Nancy Jones (Ojibwe), Mary Louise Defender-Wilson (Dakota-Hidatsa), and Joey Awonohopay (Menominee), each shared stories with the UW-Madison community which were first told in both their first language and English.

What’s more, four TLAM students were involved in either organizing the event or introducing the speakers!  Great job Stephanie, Josie, Christina, and Omar!

Posted by: tlam999 | January 25, 2010

TLAM Spring 2010

We are excited to begin a second spring semester of TLAM at UW-Madison SLIS!  The Spring 2010 TLAM course began last week.  Founding TLAM students, Omar Poler and Christina Johnson, continue to maintain the course with one of the TLAM advisors, Sunny Kim.   Janice Rice and Catherine Phan also continue to be heavily involved in the continution of the course.  This year’s new TLAM students include both SLIS graduate students and a couple upperclassmen undergraduate students.  The students as a collective have a wide range of relevant interests and experiences.  The TLAM course has evolved from the initial group independent study from 2009 into now a LIS 640 topics course.  Eventually, if this semester proves to be successful again, TLAM is in line in the future for having its own course number to be offered each spring and become part of the core curriculum at UW-Madison SLIS. 

We are looking forward to this semester’s TLAM work, renewing several partnerships, and continuing to expand our network.   In addition to the continued the coursework, hosting guest lectures, on-site visits and collaborations across the state, and advocating for TLAM, many projects are on the horizon for TLAM, including:  involvement with Operation Teen Book Drop  (a 2010 national Native American literacy initiative where the TLAM students will be liaisons to several tribal high schools in Wisconsin to deliver books to teens in April 2010); presenting and networking through various conferences; and assisting in the planning of a potential co-created conference with various tribal librarians, archivists, museum curators, records managers, tribal historic preservation officers, and other tribal cultural institution workers in Wisconsin regarding developments in the field, mutual concerns, and practical workshops. 

Over this semester, the TLAM students will take turns again posting to the blog each week.  So please keep coming back for regular updates and reflections from the students as the semester continues.  😀

Wishing everyone all the best.  Feel free to connect with us and/or post a comment here.

We had an amazing time in Portland, Oregon at the 2009 Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums National Conference!  This conference was life changing.  We met so many wonderful people from across the US, Canada, and even New Zealand, doing phenomenal things for their communities.  While yes it was a conference, it was so much more than that!  It really is a big community of a wide variety people, skills, knowledge, interests, and experiences coming together to share, learn, network, re-connect, and enjoy one another.   We definitely recommend it to others and we look forward to participating in the future gatherings!

While at the conference we not only networked and met with lots of great people during down time and throughout the conference events, but also attended and participated in various library, archive, and museum sessions and workshops.   Additionally we presented one of the 90-minute sessions for the conference.   Our session was about relationship building between library information schools and tribal cultural institutions and communities.   We  discussed this through the lens of our pilot TLAM course that we co-developed and implemented for the 2009 Spring semester.  We followed the presentation with an audience group discussion of how we can all collaborate, stay in touch, and help to inspire other LIS schools and communities to come together in these mutually beneficial relationships and engage in these discussions about Indigenous information issues.  We also explored ways we can revise the TLAM course for the upcoming semester as well as plan for TLAM’s sustainability into the future.

TLAMers presenting at the TALM conference in Portland. Photo taken by Kelly Webster. Left to right: Christina C., Christina J., Omar, and Cat.

During and after our presentation’s discussion with audience members (students, professors, and practitioners), it was collaboratively agreed that a Facebook Fan Page is in order for all those who are interested in tribal libraries, archives, and museums…to engage everyone in collective discussions, do networking in your region, across the country, and around the world with interested students, practitioners, professors, community members, and anyone else.   The presence of a TLAM Facebook Fan Page is in hopes not only to connect us, but also that this will help inspire and encourage/ease future collaborations, idea sharing, learning, and a place for event & conference announcements, as well as a place to post new literature links and press releases.
Everyone, please contribute and help build the fan page, as well as spread the word and invite others who you think should join!  You can find the Facebook Fan Page by searching under “Tribal Libraries, Archives, & Museums!” on Facebook.

2009 Tribal Archives, Libraries, and MuseumsTo check out the 2009 TALM conference website and find out more about the conference, go to:

For a direct link to the 2009 TALM conference program schedule and information on sessions and events, as well as contact and other information on those who participated, presented, and/or received awards, go to:


Posted by: tlam999 | September 10, 2009

WLA 2009 Special Service Award for the Red Cliff Project

On October 22, 2009, the Wisconsin Library Association Awards Banquet recognizes the Red Cliff Library Project by awarding a 2009 Special Service Award to the three SLIS students who conducted the project.  The project with Red Cliff helped to support and encourage the creation of TLAM at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. 

The following excerpt is from

 redcliffstudents 2009WLA SSAward

Special Service Award

Chelsea Couillard, Christina Johnson and Catherine Phan share the Special Service Award for their Community Needs Assessment for the Red Cliff Tribal Library, conducted when all three were students at the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. In the summer of 2007, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Bayfield County began to discuss closing the tribal library. The library was out of compliance with statutory requirements for system membership, usage was declining and little money was available from the tribal budget for the library.

The students were awarded a Kaufmann Entrepreneurship Community Internship grant for the summer and fall 2008-09 in order to conduct the needs assessment, under faculty supervision and staff cooperation, and in partnership with the Red Cliff Tribe. The students made monthly visits to the Red Cliff Reservation between June and November 2008, for community discussion and self-education. They collaborated with Joe Bresette, Red Cliff Tribal Operations Director; Jim Trojanowski, Northern Waters Library Service Director; Tim Kane, UW Extension Educator; and Janice Rice, UW-Madison librarian and then president of the American Indian Library Association.

Trojanowski, who nominated the group for the WLA Special Service award, reports that the Red Cliff Tribe is working hard to reopen the library. He states that though meeting statutory requirements for system membership is likely to remain a challenge for the library, “the fact that any library service will be available is a remarkable achievement that is unlikely to have occurred without the work of Christina, Catherine and Chelsea.”

The final report, Mazina’igan Wakai’igan: Red Cliff Tribal Library was released in December 2008. Currently, Coulliard is employed in Children’s Services at Baraboo Public Library; Johnson is the librarian in the American Indian Studies Library at UW-Madison; Phan is at MERIT, the School of Education Library at UW-Madison.

From left to right: Christina Johnson, Catherine Phan, and Chelsea Couillard–and the UW motor pool vehicle they drove one of many trips to Red Cliff.  Photo courtesy of UW-Madison SLIS.



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