Collaborations between tribal and nontribal organizations bring diverse communities together, often for the first time, to educate and learn, to address misinterpretations of the past, and to share cultural resources and knowledge. By examining data obtained through a nationally distributed survey, this research explores how successful partnerships between tribal and nontribal institutions are initiated, developed, and maintained; examines the degree to which the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials were used in the development of policies, procedures, and memorandums of understanding; and reveals the “lessons learned” across a wide range of collaborative projects and partnerships. This overview of collaborative models is intended to offer best practices for both tribal and nontribal organizations interested in sharing useful skills, knowledge, and resources through partnerships.
Sovereignty, self-determination, and self-governance are primary goals of Indigenous nations worldwide—and they take important steps toward those goals by renewing control over their stories, documents and artifacts. In the U.S. the last 30 years have been a remarkable period of reasserted and reaffirmed authority over such cultural patrimony through the creation of tribal archives, libraries and museums.
—Miriam Jorgensen, 20121
In 2012, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM) published a groundbreaking report that assessed the status and needs of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian cultural heritage organizations.2 Based on a national survey, the key findings addressed a range of issues related to the management of Indigenous libraries, archives, and museums, including staffing, training, preservation, digitization, and technical infrastructure. In terms of tribal archival repositories, the report noted that “many tribal communities with a tribal library and museum also have a tribal archive. These organizations hold—and continue to acquire—a broad array of critical historical records including photos, maps, correspondence, family histories and government documents, but tribal archives lack the staff, space, and storage capacity to do their jobs well. These archives may benefit from staff training in archival care techniques and field standards and from new or strong partnerships with non-tribal or state level organizations.”3
Those involved in the stewardship of cultural heritage are familiar with the power of partnerships to leverage limited resources, staff, and funding. In his 2012 presidential address to the Society of American Archivists, Gregor Trinkaus-Randall remarked that “collaboration is our way of the future.” He stressed the need for all levels of the profession to work together to identify common needs and goals and, if possible, work on collaborative or community-based approaches to problems and projects.4 Loriene Roy, professor of library science and an Anishinabe member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, acknowledged that “Native peoples are of interest around the world,” noting that “in some states, legislation recommends or even requires study of and collaboration with tribal nations.”5 At the center of any successful collaboration is a process for initiating and building relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Establishing trusting relationships is especially critical for partnerships designed to share cultural resources or expertise held by tribal and nontribal organizations. For institutions embarking on their first collaboration, relationship building can be challenging, particularly when the partners have different traditions and perspectives relating to specific rights and customs, such as those associated with access and use of cultural documentation, the application of Indigenous knowledge to define context for cultural materials, and/or best practices for the responsible stewardship of Native American heritage.
Since the 1980s, cultural heritage organizations, government agencies, and legislative bodies have sponsored, debated, and endorsed laws, policies, and protocols to reassert the rights of Indigenous peoples over their cultural heritage and provide a framework for the establishment and growth of tribal cultural organizations. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA, 1990) defines the rights of Native American lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations for the treatment, repatriation, and disposition of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. However, NAGPRA does not address the disposition of rights associated with archival materials.6 In 2006, a group of Native and non-Native representatives drafted the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, a set of best professional practices developed for the culturally responsive care and use of American Indian archival materials that addresses the needs and perspectives of both tribal and nontribal organizations.7 At a 2009 Society of American Archivists Forum, the Protocols were described as an effort to create an “open and honest dialog between people who often have different goals, different methods, and even different views of the world and archives' place in it.”8
In 2010, after two decades of debate, the United States endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples associated with culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other civil liberties. The declaration explicitly encourages harmonious cooperation between governments and Indigenous communities, prohibits discrimination against Native peoples, and promotes full and effective participation in matters concerning them. It also emphasizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures, and traditions, and to pursue development in keeping with their cultural needs and aspirations.9 Noted legal scholar Walter Echo Hawk thoughtfully explored the impact of Western law on Indigenous peoples and the political and economic forces that profit from the legal vulnerability of Indigenous rights. He examined the proposition that Native American rights are inalienable human rights and urged Native peoples to adopt the legal framework created by the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, suggesting that a tradition of atonement and forgiveness can heal the wounds of the past and create a more just society.10
In a statement on “Folklore, Indigenous Knowledge and the Public Domain” delivered to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington outlined their philosophical differences with Western legal practice and explained why many Indigenous peoples do not accept much of that tradition. They noted that “in [I]ndigenous cosmology, knowledge is a gift from the Creator . . . there is no public domain in traditional knowledge . . . although individuals might hold knowledge, their right is collectively determined, and it is rare that individuals have the right to use knowledge in a free and unconstrained manner. They are bound by the laws of their tribe and of the Creator. Even knowledge shared and used widely does not fall into the public domain.”11 Thus, when tribal knowledge is shared, it is shared among those who are trusted to understand their roles and responsibilities. For many tribal communities, the misuse of knowledge can cause severe physical or spiritual harm to the caretakers of cultural heritage, an impact that can extend to the entire tribe. For this reason, misappropriation and “misuse of tribal knowledge is not simply a violation of ‘moral rights,’ but a matter of cultural survival for many Indigenous peoples.”12
Kay Mathiesen has also explored the historical framework supporting Native American rights to control access to their traditional cultural expressions and tribal knowledge. Through an extensive examination of Western legal and philosophical thought, Mathiesen concluded that the nature, context, and history of Native American cultures are unique, arguing that group privacy and the concept of restorative justice provide an ethical justification for this moral right. She also addressed the cultural appropriation of materials found in many non-Native archives and reminded us that “Native American tribes are sovereign entities with their own traditions and laws surrounding traditional cultural expressions,” suggesting that reflection on the tumultuous history between the United States and Native Americans and its lasting effects on tribal communities provides the appropriate context to better understand tribal needs.13
A dramatic growth of tribal archives, libraries, and museums has paralleled increased activism for Indigenous rights, self-determination, and self-governance over the last several decades.14 These tribal cultural organizations are often established with the objective of locating, acquiring, and providing context for cultural patrimony and historical documentation housed in non-Native institutions, an effort central to the cultural sovereignty of those communities. At that point in their institutional development, many Native cultural organizations first contact a funding agency or nontribal cultural institution to seek financial support or research assistance. This transition can be difficult for many tribal communities, recognizing that non-Native cultural institutions have misappropriated, misrepresented, or completely omitted their past from the historical record. Thus, for many who work within Native cultural centers, a fundamental tension exists between the need to collaborate with nontribal institutions and the deeply held values of autonomy, independence, and self-sufficiency associated with participation in a cultural or political movement for self-governance and self-determination. However, when relationships are built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect, the resulting collaborative efforts can create beneficial alliances that produce new understandings of Indigenous cultural history and more sensitive approaches to the stewardship of Native heritage by non-Native cultural institutions. The debates, research, laws, policies, and protocols outlined here have informally served as guiding principles for collaboration between tribal and nontribal organizations. In particular, the principles articulated in the Protocols offer guidance in understanding Indigenous values, perspectives, and ways of knowing, and they offer important policy and legal considerations related to the management and care of Native American cultural resources. These include the importance of consulting with tribal communities; the need to provide special treatment for culturally sensitive materials; the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge in the development of metadata and other descriptive information; rethinking public accessibility and use of selected materials; the digital and physical repatriation of holdings; and reciprocal education and training. Thus the Protocols provide an avenue for respect, reciprocity, reconciliation, establishing relationships, and collaboration.
The archival profession hardly agrees on the intent and purpose of the Protocols. However, our research has revealed that many cultural heritage institutions are incorporating the best practices recommended by the Protocols into the structures and agreements supporting collaborative projects between tribal and nontribal organizations, even without the endorsement of many professional organizations.15
By examining data obtained through a nationally distributed survey, this article reviews a broad range of collaborative projects between tribal and non-tribal organizations and analyzes the collaborative practices associated with these partnerships—relationships in which core beliefs, such as traditional cultural expressions and knowledge, intellectual freedom, ownership, intellectual control, and open access, can have different meanings for each partner. Our research focuses on building relationships; developing mutual agreements, memorandums of understanding, and other means of formalizing the collaborative process; and evaluating funding and institutional support for these efforts. We examine the following research questions:
How are successful collaborations between tribal and nontribal institutions initiated, developed, and maintained?
How were the project goals and agreements negotiated and to what degree were the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials used or referenced in developing policies and procedures for partnerships involving Indigenous cultural heritage materials?
What were the challenges or “lessons learned” across a diverse range of collaborative projects and partnerships?
This overview of a variety of models of collaboration is intended to offer a set of best practices for both tribal and nontribal organizations interested in sharing useful skills, knowledge, and resources through partnerships.
In recent years, there has been a growing body of research and active interest in collaborations between traditionally underrepresented groups, community-based archives, and traditional archival repositories, especially pertaining to the theory and practice of participatory archives and postcustodial archiving.16 In 2014, two books—Identity Palimpsests: Archiving Ethnicity in the U.S. and Canada and Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion—were published containing articles that examine theoretical approaches and practical strategies for cultivating relationships with historically marginalized groups. Many of the featured authors cited the tensions and challenges inherent in collaborations with multicultural communities, including tribal communities, tensions that often stem from misunderstandings of cultural and historical perspectives.17 In October 2014, Archival Science published a special double issue on archives and human rights in which the authors explored broad themes that are also applicable to the stewardship of Indigenous cultural heritage materials. The articles offered methods and best practices for the inclusion of traditionally marginalized communities in the archival practice and also described how archivists and archival institutions can participate in a process of reconciliation.18 Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that Native American tribal communities are distinct from other cultural groups. While the theoretical approaches and practical solutions supporting collaboration with other multicultural groups and traditionally underrepresented communities may be applicable to Indigenous peoples, the relationships between tribal and nontribal cultural heritage institutions are unique due to inherent differences regarding sovereignty and their individual relationships with the federal government.
As stated previously, the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials were designed to assist both nontribal and tribal communities in establishing respectful, trusting relationships within the context of cross-cultural perspectives. Recent literature, such as Jerry Mifflin's article, “Regarding Indigenous Knowledge in Archives,” has identified the need for practical approaches to the application of the Protocols. Mifflin suggested that “case studies of successful collaborative initiatives are perhaps the best means of outreach and advocacy, and they can be employed to advantage by Native as well as non-Native archivists.”19 In 2009, as part of her master's thesis research, Keara Duggan requested information about collaborative projects that honor the tenets of the Protocols. Her website includes three case studies, each with a set of lessons learned.20 Kim Walters contributed an article to SAA's Reader on Diversity and Inclusion that features three case studies focusing on establishing and maintaining relationships between various tribal communities and the Braun Research Library. Walters concluded with several insightful recommendations for working with culturally sensitive materials, which she maintained should be determined by tribal representatives.21 Published in 2011, Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways includes a variety of articles featuring successful collaborations and the methods used to achieve sustainable partnerships, many from Indigenous perspectives.22 In a critical contribution to that book, entitled “Weaving Partnerships with the American Indian Peoples in Your Community to Develop Cultural Programming,” Loriene Roy outlined several practical steps for library and archives professionals to develop relationships with tribal communities.23 Also in that work, a case study by Gabriella Reznowski and Norma A. Joseph offers a useful set of recommendations for collaborative language restoration and revitalization projects.24 And, Christina Johnson, Catherine Phan, and Omar Poler contributed a chapter that describes the process of building trusting collaborations between LIS students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and local Indigenous groups with an emphasis on methods for sustaining relationships over time.25
That same year, in “Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation,” Kim Christen described the inception and development of the Plateau Peoples' Web Portal, a collaborative project between Washington State University, the Smithsonian Institution, regional tribal partners, and the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture to develop and maintain an online, collaboratively curated and reciprocally managed archives of cultural heritage. Christen noted in her concluding remarks that respectful and reciprocal curation processes can only occur through in-person conversations and a commitment to collaboration.26 In 2013, the Museum Anthropology Review published a collection of papers presented at a 2012 workshop entitled “After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge.” This set of case studies highlights the best practices associated with collaborative digital repatriation projects between tribal and nontribal institutions. The authors addressed topics such as the linguistic and cultural revitalization of Indigenous languages and traditional practices, as well as the knowledge developed through the return of digitized material culture.27
Collectively, these articles provide excellent individual case studies documenting unique partnerships between tribal and nontribal organizations. However, to date no comprehensive study on a national scale has been undertaken to address collaborative projects across multiple institutions, and no significant analysis of the collaborative processes developed between Native and non-Native institutions has been done. This article aims to address this gap in the literature.
To examine the range and complex nature of collaborations between tribal and nontribal organizations, we developed a mixed methods research design (both qualitative and quantitative) that entailed two phases. The first phase involved an in-depth online survey endorsed by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums and disseminated to its membership list. The survey was also distributed to the membership of the American Association for State and Local History and the Society of American Archivists' Cultural Heritage Working Group and Native American Archives Roundtable, as well as to a select list of successful collaborative grant projects funded by the two largest cultural heritage funding agencies: the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Our target audience included a representative group of both tribal and nontribal organizations. Nontribal respondents included archivists, special collections librarians, and educators from academic institutions, public libraries, historical societies, museums, and other public, nonprofit cultural institutions. From tribal communities, we pursued a range of cultural heritage specialists and educators who have partnered with nontribal archives, library, and museum programs. The interview subjects self-identified during the survey process by indicating their willingness to be contacted for further discussion of their projects in a subsequent interview phase.
We chose a mixed-methods approach because this type of study is well situated to investigate complex environments involving multiple issues and partners. This flexibility allowed us to address a wide-ranging target population, while providing latitude to investigate specific topics in more depth (such as relationship building, cultural sensitivity, the development of policy and procedures) with a particular focus on the use of the Protocols in support of these efforts. The survey data in turn were used to develop and implement the second phase of data collection through structured in-person and/or phone interviews.
Survey Instrument and Data Collection
The survey instrument was distributed through Qualtrics Web Survey service during the spring of 2014 (see Appendix A.1). We received 61 responses to the survey and eliminated 30 incomplete surveys leaving a pool of 31 respondents. The survey consisted of 30 questions covering 5 broad areas of investigation:
Demographic and institutional information
Nature of the collaborative project (goals, partnerships, funding/institutional support)
Practices supporting relationship building and the collaborative process
Policies and procedures for the collaborative management of Indigenous cultural heritage materials
Lessons learned and recommendations for best practice guidelines
The survey included a combination of quantitative and qualitative responses in the form of multiple-choice, yes/no, and open-ended questions. The vast majority of the questions were multiple choice, requiring respondents to choose from a set of predefined options with several offering opportunities for additional commentary. Three open-ended questions requested more detailed information about various aspects of the projects, as well as additional contact information. After the survey closed, we used the Qualtrics system to analyze the results. The system's reporting mechanism offers a robust, Web-based tool for the acquisition and assessment of data, including descriptive statistics reported through graphs and charts and correlated with other responses. Because of the nature of the populations, the project required a Human Studies Research Exemption Review that evaluated the impact of the survey on the target populations and established the requirements for a consent and agreement form distributed to survey participants.
We devised follow-up interviews designed to expand and qualify the survey results through in-depth discussions with representatives from self-identified successful projects selected during the survey process. The interviews were conducted at the annual ATALM meeting or over the phone during the month of June 2014 (see Appendix A.2).
The 9 interviewees were selected from a pool of 12 survey respondents who agreed during the survey process to be contacted for an interview. We conducted interviews with both tribal and nontribal partners, beginning with the survey respondent and followed by subsequent interviews with their collaborative partners when possible. In this way, we were able to include the perspectives of both tribal and nontribal participants for many of the representative projects. Of the initial interviewees, 4 represented tribal organizations, and 5 were non-tribal representatives. In several instances, we were able to engage in subsequent interviews with all collaborative partners. The interviewees were selected from organizations across the United States, including museums, libraries, academic institutions, tribal cultural heritage centers, and one graduate program in library and information science.
The interview questions focused on the origins of the project; the methods for building trusting relationships; the mechanisms for formalizing collaborative agreements; and detailed exploration of policies and protocols, including whether the collaboration involved
Consultation with tribal communities to determine project policies and procedures;
Methods for special treatment of culturally sensitive materials, such as the removal of works, reclassification, or the intentional nonpreservation of selected materials;
Mechanisms for determining appropriate levels of access and use for sensitive materials;
Engagement of tribal communities in the identification of sensitive materials, clearance, restrictions, or levels of access;
Management of privacy and intellectual and/or cultural property rights;
The copying, sharing, and/or repatriation of certain materials;
The recognition of existing community-based research protocols and contracts, or memorandums of understanding and whether any were created for the project;
Reciprocal or shared education and training activities.
The Survey Data and Interview Results
Demographic and Institutional Information
The first series of survey questions was designed to gain information about the nature of the responding institutions and their missions. Of the 31 respondents, 8 were tribal and 23 were nontribal. Figures 1 and 2 summarize institutional affiliation and mission.
The majority of our 23 nontribal respondents (45%) were drawn from academic institutions partnering with tribal organizations. Historical societies, historic sites, and governmental organizations were also substantially represented. The 6 respondents (19%) that chose “other” as their institutional affiliation included museums, a genealogical and historical center, a nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, a publication related to Native arts, and an organization involved in teaching Native languages. The 8 tribal organizations were affiliated with tribal cultural centers or tribal governing entities or a combination of both. Nearly half of respondents (39%) identified their primary mission as a combination of archival, library, and museum affiliations, with this response consistent across the various institutional categories. Four institutions (13%) identified their mission as “other.” These included academic archival and library education and training programs.
The responding institutions were geographically dispersed across the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii (see Figure 3). Most were from the Northwest, California, Oklahoma/Texas, and the Four Corners region. The demographic range represented in the survey corresponds to the states with the highest populations of Native American residents.28
Nature of the Collaborative Projects
The collaborative projects addressed a wide range of activities with overlapping primary and secondary goals. The majority of the projects focused on a combination of language revitalization, education and training, collection sharing, archival processing, and exhibit curation. Most projects involved reciprocal education and training, collection development, and arrangement and description activities. Other projects involved genealogy, oral history, preservation, library automation, and the construction of a collaborative museum and cultural center. The respondents were also asked to briefly describe their project goals. We were pleased to discover that the project descriptions included a rich array of activities (described in the appendices) that align clearly with the recommendations of the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials and the 2012 Sustaining Indigenous Culture report issued by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.29 As mentioned previously, these documents offer important guidelines and recommendations for collaborative projects involving tribal and nontribal organizations.
In the interview phase, we explored project objectives in more depth, asking the interviewees to describe the origins of their collaborative projects and the motivations for partnering (a list of the projects represented in the interview phase is provided in Appendix B).
The survey responses identified a range of objectives and motivations, including efforts to
Increase tribal representation in support of a statewide preservation project;
Incorporate tribal history and perspective in a local history museum's organizational mission and programming;
Explore “commonalities between Western and Native science, taking into account that Native cultures have, over millennia, developed ways of knowing that are highly adapted, interconnected and enduring”;
Respond to a donor's request that manuscripts, field notes, and archival records be made accessible to the tribal organization affiliated with the research;
Respond to a pre-existing memorandum of understanding with area tribal organizations to improve access to library collections in a culturally sensitive way;
Assemble regional collections with descriptive information that includes tribal knowledge;
Improve access to culturally significant materials, including projects that shared allotment records and creation myths;
Build awareness of tribal history in the broader community; and
Support student community work to raise awareness of the needs of tribal archives, libraries, and museums that would culminate in an established mutually beneficial educational exchange program.
We also asked the interviewees how their organizational missions or strategic plans influenced their projects. One respondent noted that the primary purpose of the collaboration was the incorporation of tribal perspectives into the museum's broader mission. Others emphasized the centrality of education to their project goals and institutional objectives. Another stressed the importance of aligning the collaboration with the university's mission and strategic plan to ensure funding and sustainability: “Each year we develop a list of projects and match them with the libraries' mission and strategic goals. This [collaborative] project aligned in terms of supporting the [tribal] community, strengthening and development of collections, and advancing diversity . . . it is very important that the project fit within the larger institutional mission to ensure administration support and funding for the partnerships, or there would be huge barriers.”30
The 31 projects had between 2 and 11 partnering institutions. A median of 20 individuals engaged in each project. One collaborative project focusing on language revitalization involved over 50 individual participants. Nontribal organizations served as project leads in 57% of the collaborations, with the remainder led by tribal organizations, or a combination of both (see Figure 4). The interviews indicated that the lead organization was often determined through established memorandums of understanding or grant contracts, with several mentioning specific IMLS program requirements stipulating that the lead organization must be tribal.31
The expertise provided by the collaborative partners was a mix of administrators, educators, archivists, librarians, curators, and cultural heritage officers. Several projects also included tribal elders and council members, scholars, preservationists, folklorists, linguists, oral historians, and technical and digitization specialists. Many of the survey and interview respondents stressed that the tribal and nontribal organizations were equal partners, with one organization holding key cultural materials while the other offered specialized expertise in support of the project goals and action plans. This expertise included critical skill sets such as tribal knowledge, knowledge of archival best practices, grant writing skills, and existing relationships that facilitated outreach to other tribal organizations.
Funding and Institutional Support
Funding for the collaborative projects ranged from under $1,000 to over $100,000, with 32% receiving more than $100,000 in financial support. These included 2 highly funded projects led by tribal organizations. In these instances, the projects were funded through internal tribal sources. Well-funded projects tended to rely on a mix of sources, including grant funds, state or tribal funds, and private donations. The “other” sources of funding referenced by 53% of survey respondents included grant funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Park Service, as well as internal university funds and endowments. Two respondents were unaware of the source of financial support.
The interviewees were also asked if the availability of funding influenced their projects and whether funding was a barrier to future collaboration. Most agreed that their projects would not have occurred without outside funding. In most cases, this involved a combination of tribal funds and grants. Several noted the importance of advisory boards, tribal councils, and community outreach in fund-raising and development, with a single interviewee acknowledging that “the project would not have occurred without collaborative funding from tribal organizations and the city [government]” and also noting that the museum's board of directors was pleased with the outreach to the tribes and recognized the importance of the collaborative approach to fund-raising.32
Other projects started with small grants and built upon that foundation. One respondent noted that the project was grant funded, but the project also received critical support and internal funding from her organization, which, in the absence of future grant funds, would enable her to keep the project results available. The interviewee further revealed that “this was important since the tribes had concerns regarding the sustainability of the project.”33
Practices Supporting Relationship Building and the Collaborative Process
The third series of survey questions explored the methods for initiating and building successful relationships, including the instruments used to establish and formalize collaborative agreements. Most collaborative projects were launched through face-to-face meetings (43%). Other common methods of contact included email (17%) or phone calls (13%). In most instances, the partnerships relied heavily on all three methods to maintain and build relationships throughout the project phase, with 90% reporting that they held regular face-to-face meetings with their partners.
Almost a quarter of the survey respondents (23%) were involved in their first collaboration with a tribal or nontribal organization, while 39% had engaged in 4 or more collaborations, often with the same organizational partners. Tribal council members were actively involved in 44% of the projects providing guidance and defining project objectives. In several instances, the nontribal partner initiated contact by attending a tribal council meeting to introduce project goals and to negotiate approval from tribal governance.
Most survey respondents agreed that the development of mutual agreements, memorandums of understanding, and other means of formalizing the collaborative process proved central to building successful relationships (see Figure 5). The majority of the collaborative agreements were somewhat informal, with 61% involving a written agreement by letter or email. Other instruments included verbal agreements (43%), memorandums of understanding (36%), and formal contracts (14%). Several respondents acknowledged that their grant applications outlined the nature of the collaboration and provided guidance in the project phase. Various projects included a combination of all of these methods at various stages throughout the collaborative process. One interviewee indicated that her organization chose to develop a written agreement to supplement its grant contract: “This was really efficient because we did run into issues concerning who was going to pay for what, so having the agreement made the boundaries clear. Having just a verbal agreement could be frustrating and lead to potential misunderstanding. During the negotiation process, the tribe created the document and the museum agreed to it.”34 Another project incorporated both formal and informal agreements that began with face-to-face meetings to solidify the project goals and develop a grant proposal. The project ultimately required written agreements that were approved by the associated tribal councils.35 In another instance, a loan agreement was developed for the temporary transfer of an archival collection to the partnering tribal organization for processing and digitization: “The agreement provided the basic terms and stipulations for the loan. In addition to this, there was an addendum to the loan document which included the project management overview and plan of action.”36
Another interview focused on the Plateau Peoples' Web Portal, a collaborative project referenced previously to develop and maintain an online, collaboratively curated and reciprocally managed archives of cultural heritage. The project director acknowledged that developing trusting relationships involved “a lot of listening and planning meetings to hear people's concerns and needs and to help everyone feel comfortable with all the partners.” The interviewee noted that the university had an existing memorandum of understanding with regional tribal organizations, “but the tribes wanted to create a project specific MOU [memorandum of understanding] . . . involving the library and the individual tribes.” In addition, “two tribes passed internal resolutions, but not every tribe chose to do so, it was completely up to each tribe.” The interviewee further stated that “MOUs tend to be the most flimsy of legal contracts,” but in her experience, “the MOUs are needed because they involve the highest levels of government and provide for needed structure, so that people feel that roles are specified. Also, an MOU indicates there is institutional support.”37
We also interviewed both partners associated with a project involving the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Cultural Resource Department and California State University at Santa Barbara's Fullerton Museum of Art. The project was funded by an IMLS Native American/Hawaiian Museum Services Program for the exhibition of ethnographic and archaeological objects held by the Pechanga Tribe at the Fullerton Museum. The project exhibit coordinator stated, “with formal agreements, the university is involved on a higher level and that involvement can slow things down for the project. The museum did not allow the university administration or its development officers to use the collaborative relationship for their purposes, namely fundraising. The museum was protective of the tribe and the relationship—it was about celebrating the tribe not exploiting them for fundraising opportunities. The museum met with the university administration and they listened and ultimately respected the museum's viewpoint.”38
Collaborative Management of Indigenous Cultural Heritage Materials: Policies and Protocols
Most of the collaborative projects included collections and resources held by both tribal and nontribal organizations (50%), with a smaller subset that dealt with materials exclusively in the possession of the tribal organization (27%) or the nontribal partner (23%). Since most of the projects involved the sharing of cultural resources, we were quite interested in learning whether both the tribal and nontribal partnering institutions had existing policies for use and access of culturally sensitive materials. The data indicate that a small number of the survey respondents have a written policy in place at their institutions (19%), some have an unwritten policy (33%), while others have not developed a policy (33%) or have a written policy in progress (15%). In some cases, new policies were initiated in response to needs that emerged through the collaborative effort.
We were also interested in determining the degree to which tribal and nontribal partners referenced or actively used the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials in the development of project goals and operating procedures. As explained previously, the Protocols offer a set of best practices and procedures for the “culturally responsive care and use of American Indian archival material held by nontribal organizations.”39 The Protocols also provide guiding principles for entering partnerships, handling culturally sensitive materials, engaging in reciprocal training, and including Indigenous values and perspectives in interpreting and describing Native American materials. Although not officially endorsed by many professional organizations, the Protocols emerged as a critical managing document for many of the projects surveyed. The data indicate that 44% of the institutions surveyed actively use or refer to the Protocols in their daily work, and 38% directly used the Protocols in the development of project policy, procedures, and contracts for their collaborative projects.
To gain a better understanding of how the Protocols directly or indirectly informed these projects, we asked detailed questions related to their central recommendations.40 These recommendations, in part, emphasize the importance of consultation with and the concurrence of tribal communities in decisions and policies. The survey data indicate that most of the project participants, both tribal and nontribal, actively sought the perspective of tribal communities, including the selection of content; the identification of staff expertise; the incorporation of tribal knowledge in the arrangement, the description, and preservation of materials; and the inclusion of Native language (see Figure 6). Respondents who answered “other” emphasized the importance of direct community involvement and the assignment of coordinating roles for tribal members with specialized expertise, including NAGPRA liaisons.
The projects also applied a range of methods for providing special treatment for culturally sensitive information. These included tribal identification of sensitive content (56%); clearance from tribal communities (44%); restriction or removal of sensitive materials from a physical or online collection (44%); and specific mechanisms for limiting access or use (26%). Several respondents answering “other” or “none of the above” indicated that their projects did not include any sensitive materials. Most of the interviewees emphasized the central importance of tribal expertise in the selection of content and the identification of culturally sensitive materials.
One interviewee confessed that her staff expressed concern when she invited tribal members to tour the museum's collection storage space, expressing fear that the “tribal communities would want to take artifacts back.” However, she felt that building trust required an honest exchange of information about the collections held by the museum, acknowledging that “it was important to be as open as possible and then work with the community on information sharing.”41 Another interviewee, involved in a collaborative collection development project, suggested that “in the context of research, they [the tribe] want as much open access as possible, so they have always been cautious about restraints. If something is very sensitive then it goes directly to the tribe. In some cases, elders ask for materials to not be made available until after their death and in these cases the material stays with the tribe.”42
Another interviewee discussed a collaborative project between the University of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to arrange and describe the faculty papers of an anthropologist who collected significant data regarding regional tribal communities and families. The interviewee stated that the nontribal project staff “are relying heavily on tribal community expertise to determine sensitive materials, as they are the experts and knowledge keepers of this information. The community members most likely never envisioned [that this data] would be publicly accessible. Whether the request is from the tribal community or the general public, we consult with and defer to the tribal cultural institute and tribal elders to determine access.”43
The majority of the projects (59%) involved consideration or reconsideration of intellectual property rights or copyright of materials. Interviewees varied in their interpretation of this question, but most emphasized that they did not consider their institutions to be the owners of the Indigenous cultural heritage held in their repositories, but rather envisioned themselves as stewards of these materials. For example, an interviewee from the University of Hawaii remarked that “although the archives belong to different entities, they morally belong to the Hawaiian nation, so there is no repatriation involved.”44
A long-term project between Miami University (Ohio), the Myaamia Center, and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma involves a reciprocal relationship for the physical donation of Miami cultural materials to the university while ownership remains with the Miami Tribe. A formal policy for tribal review of materials includes board approval prior to accessioning. Moreover, the tribal community retains intellectual control of the research conducted on the tribal community. This level of collaboration has encouraged tribal members to donate materials to an established research archives far from the reservation in Oklahoma, but near traditional tribal lands in Ohio and Indiana. One of the partners noted that the “the Miami Tribe sees the Myaamia Center as the research arm of the tribe and therefore sets our research agenda. With that said, Miami University sees the Myaamia Center as a unique interdisciplinary research center born from the larger tribe-university relationship that engages students, faculty and staff with a variety of culturally diverse projects and initiatives. Base operational funds come from the tribe and there is a heavy investment from the tribe.”45
We expected to find that digital and physical repatriation would be a major component for most projects, and we discovered that 46% of respondents were involved in these activities. The project director for the Plateau Peoples' Web Portal noted that “the whole project could be seen as digital repatriation. It is about having the materials as part of a conversation and it's about building relationships.”46
Reciprocal education or training was also a foundational component for most projects, with 67% involved in sharing professional best practices regarding tribal knowledge and perspectives. Several projects involved specialized scholarships or internships for Native students in nontribal organizations, while others conducted interdisciplinary training and service activities with regional tribal organizations. The respondents frequently commented that sharing expertise is a particularly effective and valuable feature of their collaborative efforts that continues to have impact on collections management practices and relationship building even after the projects conclude.
In a series of open-ended questions, we asked our survey respondents if they would consider future collaborations between their institutions and another tribal or nontribal organization. Without exception, all respondents indicated that they would be interested in collaborating with their partners or other organizations on similar projects in the future. The survey respondents were also asked to share any successes, challenges, and “lessons learned” in their efforts to build trusting relationships and to develop successful collaborative projects. We investigated these questions further in the interview phase. Several themes emerged that are best described through the eloquent words of those who participated in this study—both the online survey respondents and the interviewees—who brought valuable insights and first-hand experience with collaborations between tribal and nontribal organizations. These voices represent a blend of Native and non-Native perspectives working both within and outside of their respective cultures.
Lesson One: Get started early, be flexible, and build trust slowly.
“Tribes are very difficult to get to the table sometimes, especially those involved in large businesses and negotiations. Often the individuals who do the negotiations and hold the knowledge are in demand by many other groups. Typically, they are volunteers. Patience and persistence are important. A good lead time should always be offered both parties—tribal and nontribal.”47
“A common question is ‘how do you even get started?’ The answer is ‘start small.’ Start with a small project and find a good case collection on which to focus. You need strong communication and reciprocal understanding and respect. See the collaboration as a learning opportunity. The community has a lot to offer; be flexible and open. And, be flexible regarding the goals and time-lines. There are numerous things that come up along the way, so you need to be open, honest, and realistic about what's possible.”48
“The most important thing is to invite the other person to participate and to ask questions. Ask them for permission informally at first and then formalizing the relationship will be easier. The Western way is to ‘get down to business’ whereas the Native American way is to talk and take time to get to know one another first. You have to be willing to accept and be patient about the silences.”49
“Show respect by spending the time to get to know tribal communities—in order to become a trusted part of the community, you have to become a part of it.”50
“Conduct research prior to initiating the project. Network and talk with people beforehand, listen to what they have to say. Don't be afraid to reach out to a tribal community. A door may be closed, but be persistent. Establishing good relationships helps with the education process—to learn tribal stories and local history stories.”51
Lesson Two: Challenge your motivations and be authentic.
“Throughout the entirety of the project it is also critical to build strong relationships and remember that although the project is important, the key to the work is the reciprocity, human interactions, and connecting tribal and nontribal communities to bring greater understanding of humanity and empathy for historical injustices.”52
“Be authentic in what you are striving for; go into the project with an open mind and open heart and not seeking to personally benefit.”53
“Take a slow and careful approach. Keep one's sensitivity antennae up and be aware of unspoken discomfort.”54
“Try to understand yourself and your own motivations; be as genuine and authentic as possible. Do not have ulterior motives. You need to be able to listen carefully, not only to the needs they state, but also to people's emotions—you need to be sensitive to others. Hopefully the institution will continue the commitment, but it's about the individual maintaining the relationship for life.”55
“What came to light after many, many meetings and conversations was that much of the information I needed simply could not be provided to someone outside the tribe. Once that very important piece of the puzzle became clear, we could then work around it successfully. I truly believe that the ‘run-around’ I felt like I was getting during the many long and unproductive sessions prior to this revelation was an informal testing of how serious my institution was in making this collaboration a real collaboration and not an exploitative data-grab to benefit a nontribal institution.”56
Lesson Three: Respectful communication is fundamental. Strive to understand tribal perspectives and express a willingness to learn from and work within tribal culture.
“Respect for all points-of-view and civility are key. Make sure you don't allow one person with a strong opinion to bully the process. Thank that person and ask the next person for their opinion. Sometimes Native American groups lean to conservatism and give much time to thoughtful response. The process is typically one of caution. If one person in the group objects, it can often stop the entire process until there has been some time to revisit it, and reframe or renegotiate the question or request.”57
“The best way is to ensure a Native perspective is accurately given and that all partners have a chance to ask questions, create boundaries, give ideas, approve movement forward, and generally get to know and trust each other.”58
“As stewards of land significant to the Piscataway people, understanding Native perspective and collaborating to share knowledge is key.”59
“Understanding the culture of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee is crucial to the understanding of North Carolina history, Western expansion, and particularly the politics and cultural heritage of the Appalachian Region of North Carolina. Likewise, the historical record of the Sandhills, Piedmont, and southern coastal region of the state cannot be adequately understood without knowing the background and history of the Lumbee. And North Carolina has a variety of other distinct Native American tribal cultures that influenced the past and continue to have an impact today.”60
“Expect to take extra time in forming relationships. Ask and ask again. Respect opinions even when you don't agree.”61
“It is important to listen, have patience, and always keep the well-being of Native communities in mind. Also, always look for overlapping priorities and thoughtfully match project needs and priorities with the skills present in communities.”62
Lesson Four: Establish and communicate clear, realistic project goals and time-lines while respecting cultural differences.
“Success is learning from one another and building trust in the relationship. [You] need to establish what ‘success’ means from the very beginning in order to know project goals and to assess success. Communication is a challenge. Often times too lofty of goals can be detrimental. You need to be honest about what can be accomplished with available time and funding.”63
“Never assume the schedule is correct. You have to be prepared to be on ‘village time.’ Many Native people have their own ways of doing things, and you have to be very flexible and accepting of things as they are.”64
“Try to stay within in your time-line as closely as possible.”65
“There was a learning curve in terms of time differences and perceptions in time management.”66
“Beware of arbitrary benchmarks.”67
Lesson Five: Be flexible when formalizing collaborative agreements.
“It is important to have an established agreement or memorandum of understanding regarding the project. Some of these projects can go on for multiple years and staff can change, thus it is important to have the agreement in place as a strong foundation and reminder of the terms agreed upon.”68
“Respectful care of culturally sensitive materials and intangible cultural property must be based on respect and responsiveness to concerns. It is difficult, if not impossible, to have a blanket policy other than [to have] a policy to respectfully respond to all concerns.”69
“Communicate frequently, take notes (share them) and don't leave a meeting without an action plan.”70
“It is hard to document relationships. The best progress is made in informality. It's about having community gatherings in which you are inclusive. So much about the Miami model is not project-based; it's about long-standing relationships over time. Don't assume it's just a one-project deal; go into the project thinking about long-term relationships, not just about a specific, short-term project.”71
“Get the tribal governments to pass a resolution, have more than two contacts and have them within various parts of the tribal governance structure, have regular meetings, be flexible, ask for more time than you think you need from the beginning. Get a memorandum of understanding and develop an advisory board.”72
“Always have agreements for everything in writing, including exhibition design. It's best to have the tribe review anything that is going out to the public; make sure the partners are in agreement regarding any and all publicity.”73
Lesson Six: Successful collaboration requires committed and equitable institutional support from both partners, as well as outside funding.
“It is important that commitment in a relationship begins and is centralized at the very upper level of both institutions—tribal leaders and university presidents must be committed and willing to support each other.”74
“It took many, many years to build the partnership, and requires full support from both sides. If the university were not so committed to allowing the Tribe authority to prioritize projects, there would be no way to make it work. And if the Tribal Council would not be able to support the research center financially, many of our language programs would end.”75
“It takes decades of relationship building to develop trust. Tribal and university leaders at the highest levels are committed to the relationship—the center is a part of the relationship. The Myaamia Center is one aspect of the larger relationship initiated by past leadership. Because we are ‘part of’ the relationship, we are committed to nurture and grow the relationship on many levels.”76
“As with most of these types of collaborations, the key to the success of the project is ensuring that each partner involved, both tribal and nontribal, are equal key partners from the very beginning. This ensures that each group provides their perspective and is given the opportunity to be involved in the development, work, and conclusion of the project in all aspects.”77
“Collaborations are looked on favorably by funding agencies and the times that I have been involved with collaborative grants there have been many successful outcomes.”78
“The biggest obstacles have been university grant management office procedures and policies; also frequent turnover and reorganization within tribal government.”79
Toward a Set of Best Practices for Collaboration between Tribal and Nontribal Organizations
Given this substantial body of research data about the development of cross-cultural relationships, what characteristics do these successful collaborative partnerships have in common? The survey data, compiled across multiple institutions, indicate that both tribal and nontribal partners share several project commonalities. Collectively, these themes form a set of strategies and best practices that should assist tribal and nontribal organizations in building trusting, reciprocal relationships and successful collaborative projects. Our recommendations are intended as a starting point for those interested in sharing useful skills, knowledge, and resources through collaborative partnerships.
Initiating the Project
Cultivate strong institutional support when developing project objectives. Align the project with organizational mission and strategic goals.
Consult with tribal communities and tribal governance early in the planning phase, and gain approval for the project goals, policies, and procedures.
Involve leadership at the highest levels to engender a sustainable culture of trust and respect. Ensure that leadership in partnering institutions understands the unique nature of collaborations with tribal organizations.
Articulate a pressing social, cultural, or economic reason to collaborate and publicize to relevant communities.
Focus on existing cultural, historical, or geographic alignments to identify partners, while also recognizing the historical tensions across cultural groups.
Establish clear project objectives that are mutually beneficial to all parties. Engage in extensive preliminary planning to set clear goals, responsibilities, planned outcomes, and time-lines.
Seek funding from both internal and external sources, and use the grant writing process as a mechanism to formalize the collaborative relationship.
Ask permission, listen, be patient, and always keep the well-being of the tribal community in mind.
Realize the collaboration is greater than the initial project goals; it is about community engagement, reciprocity, and relationship building. Interact with the community at all levels, attend cultural events, extend invitations, share in community building.
Develop a culture of respectful communication and inclusivity that learns from and works within tribal culture. Share knowledge, learn from each other.
Develop written agreements, including memorandums of understanding or contractual agreements that guide institutional commitments, workflow, and staff roles. Gain support through a tribal resolution in support of the project whenever possible (see Appendix C).
Engage a project coordinator familiar with tribal history and cultural perspectives.
Be sensitive to different understandings of work culture and time management. Expect the unexpected and be prepared for change.
Meet frequently in both tribal and nontribal venues, and build trust through phased cooperation and regular face-to-face meetings hosted by each collaborative partner.
Engage in equal partnerships, and ensure that partners have an equal voice. Share expertise in support of project goals and action plans. Develop an advisory board representative of all partners.
Engage in reciprocal training and education. Share critical skill sets, such as tribal knowledge, knowledge of archival best practices, and grant writing.
Developing Policies and Procedures
Develop policies and procedures for the inclusion of tribal expertise and traditional knowledge in the selection and interpretation of content, and in the arrangement, description, and preservation of cultural materials.
Ensure that the process for approving content selection and interpretation is determined by the tribal entity.
Respect tribal expertise in the identification and handling of culturally sensitive materials.
Develop internal policies for managing Native American materials that take into account culturally sensitive materials, traditional cultural expressions, and traditional knowledge, including clearance from tribal communities, restriction or removal of sensitive materials from a physical or online collection, and agreements on mechanisms for limiting access or use.
Utilize contractual agreements, including grant reports to provide structure, accountability, and resources required to support projects.
Ensure the project is of a manageable size and scale, and that the technical infrastructure is sound.
Sustaining Project Outcomes
Maintain ongoing documentation and share this information widely.
Develop mechanisms for tribal approval of any information planned for public dissemination.
Gain institutional support for long-term and sustainable management of project outcomes.
Continue to maintain community goodwill and relationships after the project ceases. Follow up regularly and engage in subsequent partnerships that build alliances over time.
Publicize impact and share successes with others.
Every society needs educated people, but the primary responsibility of educated people is to bring wisdom back into the community and make it available to others so that the lives they are leading make sense.
—Vine Deloria Jr., 199780
Our research has focused on the promotion of ethical and successful relationships between tribal and nontribal cultural institutions. These collaborative partnerships have brought organizations together, often for the first time, to educate and learn, to address misinterpretations of the past, and to share cultural resources and knowledge across communities. In the course of our investigation, we have discovered that relationship building is difficult to document. Every partnership is unique, and in the case of tribal and nontribal collaborations, each participant must adapt to the circumstances, personalities, traditions, specialized resources, and cultural history surrounding the project. Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to the development of sustainable collaborative partnerships, we have identified several fundamental elements essential to building ethical and trusting relationships. These include respect for and an openness to learn from differing cultural perspectives, recognition of historical differences in power and privilege, establishment of reciprocal partnerships where knowledge and expertise is equally valued and shared, and acknowledgment that relationship building is an ongoing process and the responsibility of all partnering communities.
To develop the recommendations and best practices set forth in this article, our research has focused on a small but representative set of highly effective collaborative projects identified as “successful” by the participating partners during the survey process. We hope that this initial overview of successful models of collaboration will offer a set of strategies for those interested in sharing expertise, knowledge, and cultural resources across communities, and encourage the exchange of information and documentation of great interest to Indigenous peoples and fundamental to their cultural sovereignty. These best practices provide a roadmap for relationship building, the development of mutual agreements, memorandums of understanding, and other means of formalizing the collaborative process, as well as the importance of funding and institutional support for these efforts.
Our research also highlights the degree to which those involved in collaborative projects are adopting the guidelines set forth in the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. Based on the research data, most of the surveyed institutions are aware of the Protocols, and this awareness extends beyond the archival field. There continues to be a great deal of potential for original research on the use of the Protocols, especially in relation to collaborative projects involving museums (where NAGPRA obligations are quite familiar, but where only now are its recommendations being extended to archival collections and exhibition practices). Additional research is also needed to develop a broader set of recommendations that more fully addresses the complex issues associated with ownership and shared stewardship of Native cultural materials that extends beyond the collaborative processes described in this work.
The projects selected for this study share several commonalities associated with building effective collaborative relationships, but represent only a small sample of the ongoing or planned collaborations between tribal and nontribal organizations. Additional research is needed to test these recommendations and best practices among a larger population of collaborative efforts. Another critical area of research might involve an analysis of unsuccessful collaborative projects to better understand the complexities of relationship building and the development of strategies to overcome project barriers. In particular, further examination of the challenges and difficulties associated with developing trusting relationships, particularly from the tribal perspective, would enhance and complement our research findings significantly.
Nevertheless, the research set forth in this article comprises the first comprehensive national study of a variety of collaborative projects undertaken by multiple Native and non-Native institutions. We believe our findings address a serious gap in archival literature, and we anticipate that they will stimulate further study of cross-cultural collaboration with historically marginalized groups, especially Indigenous peoples. Central to future inquiry is the recognition that cultural heritage institutions are increasingly referencing and incorporating the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials into the structures and agreements sustaining their projects. When the Protocols were released in 2006, many archivists considered them controversial, perhaps even radical, and argued against endorsing the recommendations as professional practice. However, the survey data clearly indicate that tribal and nontribal archivists regard the Protocols as critical guiding documentation for navigating the sensitive issues surrounding shared or appropriated cultural heritage. In combination with the Protocols, our findings, lessons learned, and recommended best practices offer insight and foundational information for students and experienced archivists interested in developing the cultural competencies necessary for sustainable partnerships with Indigenous and other communities. Through the cultivation of equitable and trusting relationships, tribal and nontribal archivists can discover new and alternate professional frameworks that integrate traditional knowledge and sensitive approaches to shared stewardship of Native American history and culture. Through these reciprocal relationships, we can begin to address past injustices inherent in the misappropriation and misuse of Indigenous cultural patrimony and historical documentation housed in non-Native institutions.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Appendix A.1 Survey Instrument: Online Questionnaire
Building Successful Relationships between Tribal and Non-Tribal Archival Institutions
The purpose of this survey is to assist in the examination of the methodologies and processes used in developing successful relationships between tribal and non-tribal cultural heritage institutions working together on archives related projects. Thank you for your participation!
1) Please Describe Your Institution
Tribal or Non-Tribal Institution
2) Type of Institution (Select all that apply)
□University / Academic
3) Primary Mission
4) Geographic Location
□ Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)
□ Middle Atlantic (DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
□ Southeast (AL, AR FL, GA, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)
□ South Central (OK, TX)
□ Great Lakes (IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, OH, WI)
□ Great Plains (KS, NE, ND, SD)
□ Rocky Mountains (ID, MT, WY)
□ Northwest (OR, WA)
□ Four Corners (AZ, CO, NM, UT)
Please describe a past or current project that involves a collaboration between a tribal and non-tribal institution(s) to answer the following questions (if you would like to share your experiences on more than one project or relationship, please feel free to complete this survey multiple times):
Please briefly describe the project (for brevity, this could simply be the project title):
5) Lead Institution
□ Equal Partners
6) Number of Organizational Partners (Please type in a number) ________
7) Approximate number of individuals involved from all partnering organizations (Please type in a number) ________
8) Type of Collaborators—Professional Expertise (Please select all that apply)
□ Administrator / Director
□ Cultural Heritage Officer
9) Primary Nature of Project (Please select one)
□ Digitization, reformatting
□ Language Revitalization
□ Education and Training
□ Exhibit Curation
□ Database / Digital Resource
□ Repatriation of Physical Items
□ Digital Repatriation
□ Archival Processing / Arrangement and Description
10) Other Project Goals (Please select all that apply)
□ Digitization, reformatting
□ Language Revitalization
□ Education and Training
□ Exhibit Curation
□ Database / Digital Resource
□ Repatriation of Physical Items
□ Digital Repatriation
□ Archival Processing / Arrangement and Description
11) Were the collections and resources that were the focus of the project held by:
□ Tribal Organization(s)
□ Non-Tribal Organization(s)
□ Both Tribal and Non-Tribal Organization(s)
12) Collaboration: Source(s) of Funding (please select all that apply)
□ Tribal Government
□ State Funds
□ Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
□ National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
□ National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC)
□ National Education Association (NEA)
13) Amount of Funding
□ $100,000 or more, please give approximate amount of funding
14) Have you been involved in tribal / non-tribal collaborations prior to this specific project? How many times? (These can be collaborations with the same partners multiple times or different partners)
□ First time collaborator
□ 2 collaborations
□ 3 collaborations
□ 4 or more collaborations
15) Method of Initial Contact (How did the relationship begin?)
□ Phone Call
□ Face-to-Face Meeting
16) Method of Contact throughout Relationship Development and Collaboration Process
□ Phone Calls
□ Face-To-Face Meetings
17) Mechanism for Formalizing the Collaboration
□ Verbal Agreement
□ Written Agreement (i.e. a letter or an email)
□ Memorandum of Understanding
18) Was there Tribal Council involvement in the development of the project protocols and agreements?
“Culturally Sensitive” materials refer to “Tangible and intangible property and knowledge which pertains to the distinct values, beliefs, and ways of living for a culture. It often includes property and knowledge that is not intended to be shared outside the community of origin or outside of specific groups within a community.” (Glossary, Protocols for Native American Archival Materials).
19) Does your organization have a written access and use policy that includes provisions for culturally sensitive materials?
□ Written Policy
□ Unwritten Policy
□ A Written Policy is in Progress
20) Does your organization actively use or refer to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials?
21) Did the project actively reference the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials in development of project policy, procedures, and contracts?
22) How were the perspectives of tribal communities addressed in project development? (Please select all that apply)
□ Inclusion of materials created by Native Americans
□ Use of traditional knowledge (native perspectives) in the arrangement, description, or the preservation of materials
□ Selection of content
□ Selection of expertise for project
□ Inclusion of native language
□ None of the above
23) How did the project provide special treatment for culturally sensitive materials? (Please select all that apply)
□ Tribal identification of culturally sensitive material
□ Clearance from tribal communities
□ Restriction or removal of sensitive items from a physical or online collection
□ Specialized mechanism or protocols for access or use
□ None of the above
24) Did the project involve sharing and/or the digital or physical repatriation of certain materials?
25) Did the project involve the consideration or reconsideration of intellectual property rights or copyright of certain materials?
26) Did the project involve reciprocal education and training (Native American knowledge management, best practices and standards)?
27) Would you consider future collaborations between your organization and a tribal/non-tribal organization?
28) Please share why or why not you would or would not consider future collaborations between your organization and a tribal/non-tribal organization.__________________________________________________________________
29) Do you have any “lessons learned” from your collaboration experience(s) you would like to share? __________________________________________________________________
30) With your permission, may we contact you for additional information? If so, please provide your name, institution, email, and phone number. __________________________________________________________________
Appendix A.2 Survey Instrument: Interview Questions
Overview of Survey Data:
Review data and project summary with interviewee and confirm survey answers, as needed.
Is there anything that we can address in terms of the goals of the project?
Origins and Conceptualization of Your Collaborative Project:
Who envisioned the project scope or idea?
What were the motivations to collaborate?
How was lead institution(s) determined?
What was your role on project? What was the role of the tribal or non-tribal community?
It looks like you had XX partners on the project. Could you discuss the roles of partners and how these roles were identified and coordinated?
How was the content or objectives determined or codified for the project? (i.e. collections or educational/training priorities)
How did the tribal or non-tribal institution's mission and strategic plan fit into the idea to create the project?
How did the availability of funding influence your project? Is this a barrier for future collaboration?
The Collaborative Process and Relationship Building:
It appears you have been involved in other collaborations. Could you describe these? (OR) this was your first collaboration. Did prior experience (or lack of) impact the success of your project?
Please describe in more detail the relationship building and communication process.
How did the communication begin? Who reached out to whom? __________________________________________________________________
Was there tribal council involvement? Why/Why not? __________________________________________________________________
If so, was tribal council participation required/voluntary for project approval? __________________________________________________________________
Describe what you perceive as successes and challenges in developing a trusting relationship in support of the project goals.
Any suggestions in this area for others seeking similar collaborative opportunities? Please share both your perspective and what you think your partners would say.
Developing a Framework for the Project (and Use of the Protocols):
It appears you developed/did not develop a formal mechanism for formalizing the collaboration: If a verbal agreement, was this sufficient and would you seek a contract or MOU in the future? __________________________________________________________________
If MOU or Written, was this sufficient, how was negotiated and would you share your template or documentation? __________________________________________________________________
If you developed an MOU and/or Written policies, would you be willing to share them with us? __________________________________________________________________
Did you use the same agreement process for past collaborative projects, or was the process you used unique to tribal/non-tribal collaborations? Please explain why or why not.
Use of the Protocols for Native American Materials
If interviewee responded “yes” to knowledge of the Protocols in the online questionnaire questions 20–21: Does your organization actively use or refer to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials? Did the project actively reference the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials in development of project policy, procedures, and contracts?
Use of the Protocols in policy and procedure as it relates to cultural heritage projects (Interviewees were asked the questions relevant to their project):
Did you consult with tribal communities when deciding on policies and procedures for the project? (selection, use of traditional knowledge, expertise, language)
Did you establish methods for special treatment for culturally sensitive materials. (i.e. the removal of works, reclassification, intentional non-preservation)
How did you determine appropriate levels of access and use of selected (sensitive) materials?
Were tribal representatives involved in ID of sensitive materials, clearance, restrictions or levels of access?
How did you manage privacy and intellectual and cultural property rights?
Did you need to consider copying, sharing and/or repatriation of certain materials? If so, how was this handled?
Did the project involve the recognition of existing community-based research protocols and contracts, or memorandums of understanding? Did you create any that are in use now?
Did the project involve reciprocal or shared education and training?
Did your project raise awareness or change perspectives in your community or institution in relation to the protocols?
If interviewee responded “no” to knowledge of the Protocols in the online questionnaire questions 20–21: Does your organization actively use or refer to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials? AND Did the project actively reference the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials in development of project policy, procedures, and contracts?:
How did you create guidelines and policies for the project?
How did you develop mutually agreeable goals for collaboration and was this expressed in a formal contract? If so, how was the contract developed?
How did the project account for different perspectives relating to access or handling of culturally sensitive materials?
Did you address issues related to privacy, ownership or intellectual property?
Did you establish methods for sharing/repatriation of cultural materials?
Did the project involve reciprocal education and training?
With this research, we hope to establish advice for others hoping to develop successful tribal/nontribal collaboration. What would you include in a set of best practice guidelines?
Were there any overall lessons learned, challenges, or strategies used to develop your collaborative partnership? Do you have any advice regarding collaborations and the protocols or the creation of guidelines?
Is your project continuing to have an impact in your community? Are you still involved in stewardship activities, outreach, or revisions to research and access or other policies?
May we contact your project partner(s)? If so, please provide contact information.
Appendix B Selection of Survey Respondents' Projects and Partnering Institutions
Theodore Stern Faculty Papers processing project. Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the University of Oregon Libraries.*
Collecting cemetery records and obituaries. Western Oklahoma Historical Center, Weatherford, Custer County.
Indian Land Tenure Curriculum for Southern California project and Cosmic Serpent, an international project funded by NSF developed to bridge the gap between Western and Native science and how it is presented in museums. Various project partners; interviewee was staff of the Barona Cultural Center and Museum in California.*
Local tribal community history exhibit and education renovation project. Casa Grande Valley Historical Society with various project partners including the tribal communities: Gila River, Maricopa, Salt River, O'Odham, and Four Southern Tribes (a group that meets regularly).*
Collection review and information sharing project, 2009–2014. The National Museum of Ethnology, Japan, in collaboration with the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center (Zuni Museum), New Mexico, U.S.A.
Hawaiian-Language Digital Library. Hawaiian College (Ka Haka Ula O Keeliklani) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo with various nontribal and tribal archives.*
Audio preservation project—digitization of reel-to-reel recordings and tribal staff training. The Warm Springs Tribal Archives and the University of Oregon Libraries and the Oregon Folklife Network.
Collection preservation needs assessment. Individual nontribal contractor and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, California.*
Research project studying the original allotment period of tribe of Oklahoma. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and the Myaamia Center at Miami University.*
Museum expansion project. Ute Indian Museum (History Colorado) and Ute Indian Tribes.
Spirit of the Heard Award, which recognizes individuals for their efforts in preserving art and culture in their community. Heard Museum, American Indian Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.
Collaboration with public school libraries to automate all libraries serving tribal communities on the reservation. James E. Shanley Tribal Library, Poplar, Montana.
Beginning to draft an MOU to discuss voluntary repatriation of film footage that contains culturally sensitive materials. Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas.
The Plateau Peoples' Web Portal, a collaboratively curated digital repository. Washington State University, the Smithsonian Institution, regional tribal partners, and the Northwest Museum of Art and History.*
Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Collection, preservation and access to the collection in partnership with the bureau. Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Convening Culture Keepers and Convening Great Lakes Culture Keepers, education opportunities for regional tribal libraries, archivists, and museum curators. University of Wisconsin Library and Information Science program and various local tribal communities.*
A Walk through Temeku exhibition curation and installation. Pechanga Cultural Center, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Cultural Resource Department with the Fullerton Art Museum located on the California State University, San Bernardino, campus.*
The State Library of North Carolina NC ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online) needs-assessment survey of all special collections repositories in the state of North Carolina including Native American tribal representatives such as the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.
Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present Cherokee Traditions: From the Hands of Our Elders, both digital archives, Hunter Library, Western Carolina University.
The Breath of Life Archival Institute in Washington, D.C., designed to assist Native Americans involved in language revitalization discover and make accessible language materials at the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, and Library of Congress.
Partnership between the Dinjii Zhuh K'yaa, the Gwich'in archive in Fort Yukon, Alaska, and the Native Language Archive to collaborate to offer backup storage, cataloging expertise, and digitization services.
Appendix C Sample Memorandum of Understanding
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING AMONG THE [Non-Tribal Institution], in CITY, STATE, AND THE [Tribal Community] CONCERNING THE [Name of Project]
This MOU concerns the [brief description of project]
[List of Project Objectives]
Partner Contributions [Add as many as need be]:
The [Non-Tribal Institution] agrees to:
As are relevant to the project, address issues of:
Policies and procedures for the project (i.e. selection, use of traditional knowledge, expertise, language)
Methods for special treatment for culturally sensitive materials (i.e. the removal of works, reclassification, intentional non-preservation)
Appropriate levels of access and use of selected (sensitive) materials
The involvement of tribal representatives involved in ID of sensitive materials, clearance, restrictions or levels of access
The management of privacy and intellectual and cultural property rights
The options of copying, sharing, and/or repatriation of certain materials
Reciprocal or shared education and training
If the tribal community is applying for funding) Aid the [Tribal Community] in the continued application for funding for the project by providing letters of commitment and support for national and regional granting agencies
The [Tribal Community] agrees to:
As are relevant to the project, address issues of:
[Repeat content from above list as is applicable to the project]
Provide the [Non-Tribal Institution] with the names of tribal representatives who will be working on the project and will need training by the [Non-Tribal Institution] staff
(If the non-tribal institution is applying for funding) Aid the [Non-Tribal Institution] in the continued application for funding for the project by providing letters of commitment and support for national and regional granting agencies
Provide input as to the ongoing needs of the tribe in relation to the project
Signature constitutes agreement with conditions above.
Chairperson, [Tribal Community] Date
[Non-Tribal Institution] Date
[Other Project Partner(s)] Date
We deeply appreciate the participation of our survey and interview respondents and the enthusiasm many expressed for our research. Their wisdom and experience form the substance of our findings and recommendations. We are also grateful for the support provided by several professional organizations and funding agencies, particularly the Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums and the Society of American Archivists' Cultural Heritage Working Group and Native American Round Table, whose leadership provided critical insight into the development of the survey and assisted us in reaching out to key constituencies in the dissemination phase. We hope that our findings will provide useful foundational research for the SAA Cultural Heritage Working Group and ATALM in their ongoing and important efforts to develop recommended best practices and cultural competencies when working with Indigenous and other communities. Finally, we extend special thanks to our proofreaders, Roz Koester, Rob Lopresti, and Jennifer O'Neal, for their thoughtful comments and suggestions.
Miriam Jorgensen, Sustaining Indigenous Culture: The Structure, Activities and Needs of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, 2012).
Jorgensen, Sustaining Indigenous Culture, 1. This report was based on the “first-ever comprehensive survey of tribal archives, libraries, and museums” to gather information regarding their “institutional structure, outreach, and needs.” The study was funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and data gathering took place during winter 2010–2011.
Jorgensen, Sustaining Indigenous Culture, vi (emphasis added by the authors).
Gregor Trinkaus-Randall, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Archival Profession and Future Challenges,” The American Archivist 76 (Spring/Summer 2013): 10–18.
Loriene Roy, “Weaving Partnerships with the American Indian Peoples in Your Community to Develop Cultural Programming,” in Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways, ed. L. Roy, A. Bhasin, and S. K. Arriaga (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2011), 141–56.
Native American Graves Protections and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C 3001-3013 (2006). See also Jack F. Trope and Walter R. Echo-Hawk, “The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Background and Legislation,” in Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains?, ed. Devon A. Mihesuah (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 123–68.
Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, http://www2.nau.edu/libnap-p/protocols.html. See also Jennifer O'Neal, “Respect, Recognition and Reciprocity: The Protocols for Native American Archival Materials,” in Identity Palimpsests: Archiving Ethnicity in the U.S. and Canada, ed. Dominque Daniel and Amelia Levi (Sacramento: Litwin Books, 2014), 1, 25–42.
Open Forum: Protocols for Native American Archival Materials 2010, http://saa.archivists.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/events/eventdetail.html?Action=Events_Detail&InvID_W=1577.
United Nations, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, “Historic Milestone for Indigenous Peoples Worldwide as UN Adopts Rights Declaration,” press release, September 13, 2007, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/Declaration_ip_pressrelease.pdf.
See Walter Echo Hawk, In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishers, 2013) and In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishers, 2010).
“Statement by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington on Folklore, Indigenous Knowledge and the Public Domain, July 9, 2003,” Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, Fifth Session, Geneva, July 5–17, 2003, http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/igc/ngo/tulaliptribes.pdf.
“Statement by the Tulalip Tribes.”
Kay Mathiesen, “A Defense of Native Americans' Rights over Their Traditional Cultural Expressions,” The American Archivist 75 (Fall/Winter 2012): 456–81.
Jorgensen, Sustaining Indigenous Culture, 1–2.
For debates surrounding the Protocols see John Bolcer, “The Protocols for Native American Archival Materials: Considerations and Concerns from the Perspective of a Nontribal Archivist,” Easy Access 34, no. 4 (2009); Frank Boles, David George-Shongo, and Christine Weideman, “2008 Report: Task Force to Review Protocols for Native American Archival Materials,” Society of American Archivists Council Meeting, February 7–10, 2008, Washington, D.C., January 2009, 3–6; Karen J. Underhill, “Protocols for Native American Archival Materials,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 7, no. 2 (2006): 134–45.
Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, Elizabeth Shepard, “Whose Memory, Whose Archives? Independent Community Archives, Autonomy, and the Mainstream,” Archival Science 9 (2009); Dominique Daniel, “Documenting the Immigrant and Ethnic Experience in American Archives,” The American Archivist 73 (2010): 82–104; Natalia M. Fernández and Cristine N. Paschild, “Beyond a Box of Documents: The Collaborative Partnership behind the Oregon Chinese Disinterment Documents Collection,” Journal of Western Archives 4 (2013): 1–16.
Identity Palimpsests: Archiving Ethnicity in the U.S. and Canada, ed. Dominque Daniel and Amelia Levi (Sacramento: Litwin Books, 2014); Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion, ed. Mary A. Caldera and Kathryn M. Neal (Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2014).
Michelle Caswell, “Defining Human Rights Archives,” in “Archives and Human Rights,” ed. Michelle Caswell, special double issue, Archival Science 14, nos. 3–4 (2014). The majority of the articles in the double issue were originally presented at the 2013 symposium “The Antonym of Forgetting: Global Perspectives on Human Rights Archives,” hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Mifflin, “Regarding Indigenous Knowledge in Archives,” in Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion, 79.
Keara Duggan, Protocols for Native American Archival Materials: Case Studies, http://www.aphdigital.org/projects/keara.
Kim Walters, “How the Braun Research Library Works with Native Communities,” in Through the Archival Looking Glass: A Reader on Diversity and Inclusion, 177–94.
Roy et al., eds., Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways.
Roy, “Weaving Partnerships with the American Indian Peoples in Your Community to Develop Cultural Programming,” 141–56.
Gabriella Reznowski and Norma A. Joseph, “Out of the Archives: Fostering Collaborative Environments for Language Revitalization,” in Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways, 47–58.
Christina L. P. W. Johnson, Catherine H. Plan, and Omar Poler, “TALM: Creating Student-Driven Indigenous LIS at the University of Wisconsin–Madison,” in Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Preserving Our Language, Memory, and Lifeways, 221–26.
Kimberly Christen, “Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation,” The American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011): 185–210.
“After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge,” Museum Anthropology Review, A Peer-Reviewed Journal of Museum and Material Culture Studies 7, nos. 1–2 (2013), http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/issue/view/233.com.
In 2012, 14 states had more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents: California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Washington, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, and Minnesota, Hawaii, with its population of Native Hawaiians, also has more than 100,000 Native Americans. U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Selected Population Profile in the United States, Table S0201, http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/12_1YR/S0201/0100000US.04000/popgroup~009.
Protocols for Native American Archival Materials; Jorgensen, Sustaining Indigenous Culture.
IMLS Native Library Services Program and Native Museum Services Program, “Grant Applicants,” http://www.imls.gov/applicants/detail.aspx?GrantId=17.
Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, Executive Summary, http://www2.nau.edu/libnap-p/precis.html.
The legal and policy issues addressed in the Protocols for Native American Archival Material include the importance of consultation with and concurrence of tribal communities in decisions and policies; the need to recognize and provide special treatment for culturally sensitive materials (i.e., the removal of works, reclassification, intentional nonpreservation); rethinking public accessibility and use of some materials; the role of intellectual and cultural property rights; the need to consider copying, sharing, and/or repatriation of certain materials; the recognition of community-based research protocols and contracts; reciprocal education and training; raising awareness of these issues within the profession.
Interviewees 7 and 9
Survey Respondent 1
Survey Respondent 2
Survey Respondent 1
Survey Respondent 3
Survey Respondent 4
Survey Respondent 5
Survey Respondent 6
Survey Respondent 7
Survey Respondent 8
Survey Respondent 5
Survey Respondent 6
Vine Deloria Jr., Red Earth White Lies (Golden, Colo.: Fulcrum Publishing, 1997), 4.