University of Michigan Clements Library Native American Photo Collection

University of Michigan Clements Library Native American Photo Collection


(music playing-softly) This is a native collection and to bring
other indigenous populations, native consultants, tribal historians, community
members into this conversation of how do we interpret it, how do we preserve it, is
not only refreshing but you know it’s it’s needed. The mission of the Clements
library is a research library for American history and culture and all the
materials in the library are primarily here to support scholarship in American
history, something that is more than a pretty picture, but an image that conveys
a lot of information and we see a lot of that in the Pohrt collection. Obviously
there’s historical and current sensitivities about how white people
represent Indians, and we wrestle with all these things, and now, and I think
it’s been going on for some time now there is a strong effort to involve the
Native communities and all these projects. There’s some photos that we
were looking at that had this woman from Middle Village, which is up in Emmet
County, our ancestral homeland hoeing potatoes,
she’s harvesting potatoes. It’s a very “day in the life of” photo. I love it, it’s
one of my favorites, because it’s not staged, it’s, they went to the farm and
you shift into this it’s a photo of the Carlisle Indian School and from Carlisle
Pennsylvania. And within that photo there are Odawa from Harbor Springs and Cross
Village. Why is this school created, what was going on at this school, what
happened to these kids after this school? We want this collection to have a wide
usage, both, you know traditional academic scholars, studying in this period of history
and also Native American communities who can use this collection to maybe, you
know, get back in touch with some aspects of their past. I’m already thinking how
to create educational materials around these photos, so we’re not just having
this says, hey this looks cool, and then put it away. This collection is the
latter half of the 19th century Native American images. There’s some rarities,
this particular photograph here of Geronimo and his,
to read the quote on the back, his hand-picked Braves. It’s things like that
as a collector, got me excited. I’ve learned more in the past ten months
about Native American history in general, and also 19th century American Indian
relations, doing the detective work into making the catalog records for all these
images, than I had known previously. We don’t want to end the story with
Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Carlisle, that’s part of the story but we
want to show and fill in that between then and now the Native people are still
here. We’ve changed through time, but we’re still essentially Native people in
our home lands. (soft music fades out)

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