Collaborations Between American Indian Communities and the American Philosophical Society

Wed, Sep 19, 2012, 4:30 pm
McCosh Hall, Room 40

Timothy Powell will discuss an innovative new project at the American Philosophical Society (APS) that rethinks the relationship among scholars, archives, and indigenous communities. The APS is working closely with Ojibwe First Nations in Canada, the Tuscarora Nation, the Penobscot Nation, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on a project called “digital knowledge sharing.” Contemporary research on indigenous cultures often requires working collaboratively with American Indian Nations. The APS project brings Native American elders, tribal historians, and teachers to Philadelphia on a regular basis; these fellows digitize archival materials (including audio recordings, images, and text) and take them back to their communities for language and cultural revitalization.  In return, the partnering tribes have provided highly valuable information about the materials in the APS collections. This collaborative model offers an exciting model for scholarship in many different fields, including history, anthropology, literature, art history, linguistics, and American studies.

Timothy Powell is a faculty member in the Religious studies department at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as director of Native American Projects at the American Philosophical Society, where he currently directs an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to digitize the entire Native American audio recordings collection, which totals more than 3,000 hours.