Oct. 23 Talk to Highlight Decolonizing Archives and Collaborative Research with Native American Communities

Jennifer O’Neal, university historian and archivist at the University of Oregon Libraries. Photo by Michael McDermott, courtesy of University of Oregon.

Jennifer O’Neal, university historian and archivist at the University of Oregon Libraries, will present a talk at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, on engaging students in decolonizing research to achieve reciprocity and reconciliation with source communities. The discussion will take place in Avery Hall’s Bundy Reading Room.

O’Neal will highlight UO’s Northern Paiute History Project, a formal collaboration between the university’s Robert D. Clark Honors College and the Northern Paiute communities of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs and the Burns Paiute Tribe.

Through field trips to the Warm Springs Reservation and meetings with tribal elders and other community course partners, UO undergraduate students learn to conduct original research and oral history to document lesser-known portions of Northern Paiute history that is then shared with the tribes, as well as returning primary resources to tribal communities.

The Northern Paiute History Project seeks to change how Native American history and traditional knowledge have been studied, researched and preserved. Hundreds of non-Native repositories, including universities, hold much of the physical archival collections that document Native American history and culture in far-removed places outside of tribal communities, O’Neal wrote in a recent article for the Journal of Western Archives.

“This class provides the opportunity to begin the return of these important historical materials to the tribal communities and, more importantly, to include the tribal voices, perspectives and research protocols in the student’s original research and writing,” O’Neal said.

In 2006, O’Neal participated in drafting best practices for the respectful care and use of Native American archival materials, which produced the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. She serves on various groups in the Society of American Archivists, including the Cultural Heritage Working Group and the Native American Archives Roundtable, as well as participating on the Advisory Board for the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. She also serves as an adviser to the Mukurtu project at WSU.

O’Neal is the recent recipient of the Society of American Archivists Diversity Award. She holds a master’s in history from Utah State University, a master’s in library science from the University of Arizona and is currently completing a doctorate in history at Georgetown University. She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon.

Sponsors for O’Neal’s lecture include the WSU Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, WSU departments of English and History, the Sherman and Mabel Smith Memorial Fund, the George and Bernadine Converse Historical Endowment, WSU Libraries and WSU Native American Programs.