Preserving and promoting the lives of Native Americans through oral histories

FURLONG, John T. (2014) Preserving and promoting the lives of Native Americans through oral histories. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 118 - Indigenous Matters Special Interest Group. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Preserving and promoting the lives of Native Americans through oral histories

This paper explores the creation and preservation of the Listening to Indians Collection at the David L. Underwood Library, St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley. The collection is a series of oral interviews from the 1970s with Native Americans. Professor Samuel L. Myers conducted a series of oral interviews with leaders from Native American nations in 1975 as part of his sabbatical research. His goal was to provide Native Americans the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions to the students not only in his classroom, but people of the United States. The resulting interviews were preserved on cassette tapes and eventually transcribed. The significance of the 144 interviews cannot be underestimated. They provide a glimpse into the lives of Native Americans in the 1970s. The interviewees discussed their lives on the reservations, the people’s relationship with the USA Federal Government and the hopes and frustrations shared by their youth. Several of the interviewees rose to national prominence working with the federal government in efforts to preserve their heritage or improve on the lives of Native Americans. The paper will discuss the effort to preserve and promote this important collection. The collection had sat dormant for more than thirty five years without any effort of arrangement or preservation. The collection is not well known outside of the College but has a national significance. Currently several librarians, students and history professors at St Louis Community College- Florissant Valley have taken an interest in preserving and marketing the collection. Librarians have begun converting the cassette tapes for digital preservation and scanning the hundreds of pages of transcripts. We share the original goal of Professor Myers in bringing a greater understanding of our Indigenous People to our nation and the world.

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