Teaching The Northern Paiute History Project: Engaging Undergraduates in Decolonizing Research with Tribal Community Members

AHA Session 233
Sunday, January 4, 2015: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Conference Room D (Sheraton New York, Lower Level)
Kevin Hatfield, University of Oregon
The Audience

Session Abstract

This session will document and assess the experience of the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College colloquium “Race and Ethnicity in the American West: Northern Paiute History,” taught in fall 2013 by Dr. Kevin Hatfield and Jennifer O’Neal, which engaged students with local tribal community members from The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Burn Paiute to document previously unexamined or lesser known portions of tribal history. This course espoused the values of community‐based, inter‐cultural, de‐colonizing, multidisciplinary research, and authentic discourse among Native and non‐Native students, historians, and scholars. This course invited students to participate in an “apprenticeship” in the historian’s craft, and perform primary-source research projects organized around a set of topics and questions developed in collaboration with Northern Paiute community partners. In preparation for their archival, oral, and field research, students critically examined the ethics, methodology, and historiography imperative to academic historians engaging in inquiry with indigenous source communities. Additionally, students learned appropriate protocols and guidelines for researching and interacting with cultural heritage collections and local community members. Ultimately, students created new knowledge and contributed original interpretations and findings to the existing scholarship on the Northern Great Basin and Northern Paiute through sustained engagement with visiting scholars, including Native and non‐Native historians, and tribal community members. In addition, students also provided their research and papers to the tribal communities studied. The session will include presentations by instructors Hatfield and O’Neal, as well as James Gardner, author of Northern Paiute history and course partner.

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