American Indian Studies Research Institute. Spring 2019. Week 12.

As I am only just tidying up around here before I graduate, I was able to add 1 more record to the AISRI publications sheet I started, but it was a doozy. I wish I had stumbled on it earlier because learning how to cite it in the first place, and then how to map the citation to the metadata sheet, is becoming an intense learning experience. This book was more of a project, in quarterly journal, with several different authors and contributors of different essays. I have practiced citations since undergrad, but this represents one of the most difficult types. I may or may not figure it out before my time is up.

I have also stepped away from the grants research since there are a significant number of entries in the spreadsheet at this point, and fairly exhaustive information gathering went into adding those particular grants. At this point, I have to get creative when I start a search because I’ll revisit a lot of the same ground I already covered. I started looking up similar institutions and projects and learning which agencies funded them, but there is still a lot of overlap of agencies which I’ve already evaluated, so I feel like I have learned so much about grants in this particular field, and I intend to continue learning more about them on my own time, or possibly for another employer someday.

I created my final presentation for this Spring internship, and now this is my final blog post, but I am not feeling as relieved to walk away from the institute as I am to be done with my classes. Coming here was the beginning of a lifelong commitment to administer the revitalization of Native languages and cultures. In fact, a documentary I saw about Pine Ridge as a kid was the beginning of the commitment that led me here, so there is no doubt the path will continue from here, and will build from these enlightening experiences, working directly with other people assisting Pine Ridge. I never understood how I could help, and to learn that there are ways has given my life more meaning and purpose. I am armed now with very powerful tools to empower Native communities to represent themselves, and my greatest wish is that more students will find their way to this information.

Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute.Week 11.

I finally took some time to revisit data cleanup on the Lesser photos sheet.
As I mapped metadata from the sheet to the Box files, I wondered if it was even going to be necessary to keep it. I quickly realized that only the sheet had information about which prints had negatives, since there’s no way to represent that data in Box because it’s not associated with any uploaded file. All other metadata was mapped from the sheet to Box files in addition to their original identifiers. It was important to keep the original identifiers, which were mapped from the original paper copy of the metadata included with the photos, because they were the only proof of the order of narrative sets that needs to be maintained. In fact, if I hadn’t mapped the original metadata to the sheet, and didn’t have the sheet to map file names in Box, there would have been no way for me to organize specific sequences in Box because Box, unfortunately, does not have the functionality to move files around after uploading them, so uploading them in their original order was crucial. The lesson here was, not surprisingly, to keep the sheet. Mapping from the sheet to Box allowed me to integrate copies and descriptive information that was previously recorded as “missing.” This 2nd phase of mapping also allowed me to identify errors, like the fact that there were actually only 2 copies of a particular print, not 4.

Using a shared folder in Box also allowed me to create the 3 groups that I needed to represent the groups as they are now packaged in physical storage. Within the Pawnee group, I was able to create the specific folders I needed to map the specific sequences from the sheet (and original paper copy). The first organization of Box files after uploading first phase groupings included 11 files. After clean up, I got the number down to 5, and I think I have organized and represented the information as best I can to enable AISRI faculty and their research associates to be able to quickly and easily retrieve and interpret. The only challenge was renaming every single file with descriptive info, but that is also the only thing that makes the new records accessible, so I’m glad to have smoothed a path for their future use. I tried to keep naming as consistent with the sheet as possible, and strictly consistent within Box, especially for duplicates, but some of the information had to change due to space constraints.

I’m still researching grants and philanthropists, as well. I added another one to the grant sheet I created, which was from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, an incredible organization from what I can tell, which I had never heard of before. The other sheet I am making to track philanthropists has 7 entries so far: Bush, Ford, Kellogg, Mellon, and 3 that are exclusively for Indigenous populations: Kalliopeia, Indigena, and Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples.

Today is IU Day crowdfunding and AISRI is receiving some donations, which is very encouraging. They also created this beautiful new website for fundraising:

My next post will surely reflect my sentiments about offboarding from this incredible experience.

Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute. Week 10.

Here is the list I promised in my last entry. My last 2 entries will explain these experiences in greater detail.

Fall 2018

  • Renamed hundreds of Assiniboine sound files from their numerical identifier to the actual work contained in the file. Required extensive research with print and digital tools and constant consultation with Josh to learn the language. I managed to learn so many roots words, etc. that I could tell when a file was cut short.
  • Gathered metadata for dozens of items hanging on walls and sitting on desks in AISRI. This involved researching each item to trace provenance, where possible. I renamed the jpg images of these items to contain the Title, Creator, and Year of the work.
  • Began applying analog archiving methods to documentation of the Ella Deloria Archive project in a file cabinet outside the restroom upstairs: Bound items with acid-free paper, put items in folders and marked folders and items with numerical order.
  • Installed free trial of ABBYY FineReader 14 to test some optical character recognition of pages from “Dakota Way of Life” by Ella Deloria. Completed OCR of 100 pages before trial ran out. I reformatted them in Word and converted to searchable pdf’s. Travis was pleased with the output, so he ordered the software. Once again, I learned the content from reading it closely.
  • Shifted, cleaned, and organized the inventory in the closet in Josh’s office. I posted the new inventory inside the closet door.
  • Created first pass sheet and metadata for publications associated with AISRI researchers and informants. This entails locating books on the shelves that I don’t know anything about, but I have complete records for 8 books now. I also learned which books already have ISBN info available through the Library of Congress. Also from this experience, I recognized the names of collaborators from browsing the file cabinets, so even passively, I have learned a lot about the collaborative relationships that created AISRI projects throughout the years.
  • On-demand digitization for research requests. (Pawnee dialect surveys) Scanned, combined & converted to Adobe, and emailed. Stored in shared folder.

Spring 2019

  • Digitization, image editing, metadata, data cleanup, and some physical preservation of box of Pawnee, Kitsai, and Chitimacha photos taken by Alexander Lesser in 1931.
  • Researching grants and other funding agencies. Started spreadsheet, with metadata explicitly requested by AISRI faculty to fit their priorities.
  • Located NEH/NSF Documenting Endangered Languages grant that was originally approved for Assiniboine Narratives Project and began developing it for the current open cycle.
  • Compiled separate document to share background info for grants that only our research associates in affiliated tribes are eligible to apply for.
  • Compiled separate document listing names of community, individual, and foundation philanthropists that AISRI can send their new fundraising page to.
  • Wrote rough draft of text for AISIR’s IU Day crowdfunding page.
  • Data cleanup of first pass sheet for Publications by AISRI researchers and informants.
  • Weekly blogs

I will not be able to help researcher for Assiniboine Narratives project format the interlinear translations for pdf storage and I will not get to OCR any more of “Dakota Way of Life” by Ella Deloria because we probably won’t receive the license for the program in time.

Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute. Week 8.

The Digital Humanities Advancement Grant wasn’t necessarily what was needed for the Assiniboine Narratives Project because a new website was far overreaching the actual current phase of the project. Actually, the current AISRI site with the pdf and mp3 uploads is still adequately serving the needs of the project, and the goals to format and add the rest of the collection are still ongoing.

So I decided to dive deeper into a different grant, the NEH/NSF grant for Documenting Endangered Languages. I had no idea at first, but eventually realized it was this exact grant program that previously funded the first phase of the project from 2009-2014. I have been able to review the entirety of the previous grant proposal, application, and approval. I was able to learn more and borrow language from the documents which describe the purpose and some of the goals for the project, but several things have changed, including personnel, deliverables, and the work plan. I spent some time with my supervisor figuring out some of those changes, so I learned about some more connections that AISRI has with people in other regions who are still called in to work on AISRI projects. I also learned more about the logistics of budget allocation, like what each component would be used for and typical salary ranges for staff based on their contribution to the project. Finally, I learned what goals of the project are still ongoing from the first phase, and what new goals need to be described since (50%) completion of the previous phase. The deadline for the Documenting Endangered Languages grant isn’t until September, so unfortunately, I would not have the chance to see this proposal submitted or approved, but they assure me it has been a helpful push with which they intend to proceed. I will be developing the proposal at length for Digital Humanities, and I will share the final copy with AISRI, in case they could possibly use anything I write.

The biggest challenge for my proposal at this moment is the title. In DH, we discussed how titles in the style of a summary are too easy to forget, but they effectively communicate what is in the document, and brief titles are harder to classify and interpret, but better for competing in a crowded marketplace. That discussion helped me choose a succinct title for our IU Day crowdfunding ad and to create a summary title for Documenting Endangering Languages grant proposal. I will share it as soon as I know what it is.

I have also been reviewing the guidelines for the proposal extensively and I found it interesting that they encourage graduate students to assist faculty on the work, but not to submit the grant ourselves. This particular grant does not have a restriction on who can be the Private Investigator, so I am surprised that they would explicitly discourage graduate students. My hasty hypothesis is that, in general, the more distinguished faculty can be named in the proposal, the better the odds are that it will be approved.

In my search for grants, I was also able to create a document outlining the particulars of grants which are specifically available to the tribal educators AISRI works with in the plains, and to share the good news about NEH fellowships I found which could also support any of AISRI’s researchers.

Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute. Week 9.

One surprisingly fun thing I stumbled into learning more about is formatting issues between FieldWorks software and Microsoft Word. FieldWorks has the dictionary database that AISRI linguists have entered throughout the years, so it’s essential for accelerating the pace and accuracy of translations. The FieldWorks document has to be formatted in Word, and each time the document goes back and forth, the researcher has to reformat it. There is potentially a setting which AISRI’s IT specialist can adjust, but I quickly became more interested in observing FieldWorks. In Digital Humanities, we recently discussed the automation of translation, but we didn’t have any real-world examples available. The AISRI staff I work with offered that his average text is relatively brief and the amount of changes relatively few, so the program is a much greater help than a hindrance. But, of course, human researchers are responsible for initial translations of new recordings, so the program doesn’t even begin to work until they correctly enter that data. So, there are some things that can and have been automated, and there are some things that probably need to be automated eventually, and there are things that can’t and should not be automated. The broader theoretical question at this point is not whether translation can and should be automated, but to what degree.

AISRI is participating in the online fundraiser called IU Day, created by the IU Foundation. Our presence on the crowdfunding site, however, exists only in very rudimentary form so far. I was tasked with drafting more engaging and informative text, so I have submitted 2 paragraphs, which are currently circulating among staff for revisions and additions. Once the text is finalized, we also have photos sent from the schools served by AISRI. I think the final result is going to be something very helpful to AISRI and I look forward to sharing it soon.

I was informed that AISRI’s IT Specialist is purchasing a new version of ABBYY FineReader, which means I may soon have the chance to complete some more optical character recognition for the Ella Deloria Archive project. In the meantime, I get to compile a list of all the activities I’ve been involved with during my internship because my supervisor is going to write me a letter of recommendation! That is the type of reward we are earning in these internships, and I want to confirm to all students that we should be accepting them when they are offered, and even asking for them when they are not. I will post the list in my next entry.

American Indian Studies Research Institute: Week 7


With the grants sheet submitted for collaboration with AISRI faculty, I had some time to return to the digitization project I was working on – packages of photos, which were taken in anthropological field work in Montana in the 1930’s. Those photos which had been rolling up on the sides were now significantly more flat from the weight of books piled on top for the last few weeks. By combining all like prints and negatives with like prints and negatives in the same packages, I was able to organize everything into 3 packages instead of 7, grouped according to the 3 tribal groups identified by writing on the packages. At present, they are stored in new packages that will keep them flat and delay the onset of dust a lot longer, until their next phase is decided.

One of many takeaways from the digitization of those photos was the difference in representing data and representing a narrative. As we map metadata to sheets to represent these photos, numeric details like unique identifiers can not become more important than the order which they are arranged. This data is not being made available to free agents to rearrange and reinterpret in their own databases. These photos represent primary examples of important narratives because a ceremony, for instance, is photographed in parts 1-9. Those parts can not be taken out of context just because the parts are now moveable. We are obligated to keep the order of the narrative together because each part makes up the whole.

After consulting more with AISRI faculty, I was guided to add a few more columns on the sheet that would make it clear who can apply for which grants. I had added a column for “Who Can Apply” when I learned that some grants were specifically for tribal governments, some were specifically for non-profits, etc., but it still wasn’t clear which ones AISRI could apply for. Another helpful method of determining whether we can and should apply is to look at the previously funded programs of each agency to see if it is aligned with AISRI goals.

I was also advised to create a new section for IU specific grants. I am starting to learn about the IU Foundation, crowdfunding, and research fellowships, which I’ve always wanted to know more about. Research is hard work, I’m happy to know that researchers can afford to live while doing such hard work, I just don’t have the patience for it. I’m more of a project person, which may be obvious by all this hopping around.

American Indian Studies Research Institute: Week 6

As the search for grants expands, so does my knowledge of Excel. One new trick I learned this week is how to custom sort the rows according to the numerical order of the Date Due column, in descending order. In terms of agencies and guidelines, I am trying to learn more about what is available exclusively to affiliated tribal organizations and individuals. I found many of them in Department of Health and Department of Education, etc., but also some community foundations like Social Justice Fund Northwest, which helped to fund the Crow Language Consortium and Indian People’s Action in Montana in 2017.

AISRI had a visitor from Oklahoma who was full of networking ideas to get more of IU involved with Indigenous studies. One really cool example she mentioned was a Native-led tv station (online) which produces 30 minute documentaries about notable public figures. In these fantastic brainstorming sessions, wonderful ideas come up like getting the Media School involved in bringing these folks to campus.

To demonstrate the topsy turvy learning curve I experience in this endeavor to learn about grants, here is a fine example: I found a grant I thought would work, so I dove into the particulars and hoped it would advance. However, I was informed that a PhD was needed to register as the Private Investigator doing the research work in the proposal, and unfortunately, AISRI didn’t have one handy. In Digital Humanities class, though, we had a visit from the Head of Digital Libraries at IU Libraries who said a PhD is not required for a Private Investigator. In fact, as we had been discussing in class, Librarians are encouraged to register as Private Investigators for those grants which they are already in or planned to be in routine consultation. The hip industry term is “alternative academic,” and I do think it can benefit libraries and institutions a great deal. I was ready to get a PhD in order to help people get good grants, but I was utterly relieved to learn that I wouldn’t have to. However, to echo the punchline introduced immediately in orientation to the MLS program, “It depends!” Seasoned experts at AISRI reminded me of the frequency with which grant requirements vary, and even more slippery still, they are not always forthcoming about which requirements weren’t met, so some grants still do require a PhD, and for some, we’ll never know.

What I’m learning about the search for grants is that finding is just the tip of the iceberg. I am not disappointed. I am so overwhelmingly privileged for this in-depth experience doing something I care so much about, and will always want to continue.

American Indian Studies Research Institute: Week 5

As the list of grant sources piles up, I find myself needing…you guessed it! A spreadsheet!

The sheet for grant info is helping me to learn to identify parts of grants as I map the metadata to different programs and categories. Since we’ve downloaded and experimented with SQL in Digital Humanities, I might use this sheet for more practice with the browser when I’m done.

Here are a few examples I found that may be helpful to others researching Humanities grants. NEH has Preservation, Access, Research and Development grants to digitize collections, create archives, or develop reference resources for Humanities collections. Their Office of Challenge Grants also has a grant for Infrastructure and Capacity Building to cover revitalization of existing digital projects. Specific to the needs of AISRI, which we may be exploring further, is the National Science Foundation grant for Documenting Endangered Languages. AISRI holdings are called Cultural heritage materials, and I am learning a lot about “applications for projects that study, document, or create digital representations of lost or imperiled cultural heritage materials” that will exponentially useful for any institution or repository with cultural heritage materials.

I was informed of another potential project to which I could contribute, one that would help AISRI complete more work on the Assiniboine Narratives project. There are several works which have been translated and represented in digital text, but not formatted. I will be taught formatting guidelines for making the rough translations into the polished Assiniboine and English sentences that people will be able to read on the page. I’m excited to begin that project when I can because it’s always a privilege for the chance to read through the material. Now that AISRI has made several mp3 files available on the Assiniboine Narratives site, I also have the chance to hear some of them.

American Indian Studies Research Institute: Week 4

The Great Grant Search of Spring 2019 continues!

This week, I have become entirely entrenched in learning what funding agencies exist, the types of variations that can be found in different guidelines, and I’ve been reading examples. AISRI uses a lot of grants, especially from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I was able to look at several of their previous proposals, including the proposal AISRI created for the Assiniboine Narratives project in 2006.

The language of the original NEH grant proposal for the Assiniboine Narratives Project explained that it can provide “humanistic insights required to invigorate scholarly study of the American Indian.”

Reading the original language of the Assiniboine Narratives proposal, I was further enlightened about the nature of the institute. The work of linguistics can demonstrate crucial epistemologies, grammatical processes, linguistic variability, change over time, and sources of meaning for dictionaries. I hadn’t previously considered that one of the most important reasons to represent linguistic research online is to share data with other linguists. Linguistics also contribute resources for preserving and teaching in the domains of Folklore, Comparative Literature, History, Religion, Native people themselves, etc.  

I have been fortunate to find that moment again, where my coursework and internship become symbiotic because the final project assignment in Digital Humanities is the development of a grant proposal, and Professor Riddell recently forwarded us information about an NEH grant opening in April for Digital Humanities Advancement. I was curious if the grant could work toward continuing the Assiniboine Narratives project, so I shared the grant with AISRI and I submitted the proposal to my Professor.

Spring 2019. American Indian Studies Research Institute. Week 3.

Photo digitization project on pause for preservation, grant proposals project full steam-ahead!

1.24 – I stopped documenting description of each item to increase productivity because the same information is available already for duplicates.

1.29 – Today I scanned the delicate Kodak film receipts from Oklahoma, which were included with the photos. The paper is very brittle, the pencil marks faded, and every fold about to snap off, but I succeeded with minimal modification. Each has key (file name) for retrieval, but items aren’t marked and I did not create any metadata for the sheet. I only increased contrast to embolden the pencil marks. Finally, I put them into individual plastic sleeves and put all plastic sleeves into a paper envelope.

Another box is full of photos which are rolling up on the sides. Only half as bad as the first series which are almost done flattening under the weight of books, but I still applied the same method so they are currently located with the first series on a table for flattening.

This series had more duplicates in the same package than previous packages, so I was able to begin the process of combining some duplicates. Once all photos are flattened and properly stored, I hope to combine all duplicates from the entire archive of Lesser photos, as well as to preserve the sequential order that a couple of the packages were originally assigned. I also stopped scanning exact duplicates and just marked the # of prints in the # of prints column on the sheet.

2.5 – As I have reached a significant pause in the process of digitizing and archiving the Lesser photos, Cynthia approached me about the need to discover more grant funding for AISRI’s ongoing projects. I hope to learn more about the resources that are available exclusively for Native Americans themselves to apply, but I hadn’t even head of them before today. AISRI faculty is already well-versed in federal grants, so they have asked me to concentrate on a database for philanthropy grants based out of or that can apply to the state of Montana, which is where a lot of AISRI collaborative projects are based.

The first day, I managed to secure one good lead from the Charlotte Martin foundation. Cynthia contacted them and already responded that they are interested.

I am very fortunate to be learning and training to seek grants. I have learned how to read sites for guidelines, and that the most important first step is not applying for the grant, but simply initiating friendly contact with the organization, as many of them explicitly prohibit unsolicited applications.

2.7- Today I found another perfect grant opportunity based out of Montana, through the Montana Arts Council. Reading through the guidelines, I have learned how to look for the different categories of grant forms to which organizations must adhere, which seem to be specifically designed by the organizations themselves. For instance, with Montana Arts Council cultural grants, AISRI needs to utilize the form for either “Special Projects” or “Operational Support,” which have their own eligibility and application guidelines. I’m learning that seeking a grant is not just a generalized application to a grantmaker. I’m extremely excited to gain this experience, not only for myself, but for the possible benefits to AISRI and Native American students in Montana, who are all in desperate need of new funding resources.

Also, Professor Riddell just sent a grant opportunity from the Office of Digital Humanities at National Endowment for the Humanities. It’s perfect for us to develop and maintain digital resources, and to pursue their advancement with tools like Optical Character Recognition and user analytics.