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Augustana University Partners with Flandreau Indian School for Archival Re-Presentations

Augustana University is partnering with Flandreau Indian School and the Washington Pavilion for a project that brings Native American perspectives into historical archives. Augustana is one of 25 independent colleges in the country to win a grant for the Humanities Research for the Public Good initiative. 

Photographs and other documents in archival collections may include Native Americans, but these items are rarely created by Native Americans.

“—and that’s a huge discrepancy in terms of representation of a population that has been silenced in a way.”

Carolyn Ly-Donovan is an assistant professor of sociology at Augustana. She’s also one of the faculty leads on the project called “Re-Presenting Native Americans in South Dakota’s Archival History.”

The $10,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges—and matching funds from Augustana—will partner Augie undergrads with high schoolers from Flandreau Indian School. The high schoolers will explore archives in the Center for Western Studies and create artistic reinterpretations. Ly-Donovan says the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls will host an exhibit of those projects next spring.

“And so, using an artistic interpretation allows the archives to become accessible to high school students in a way that, I think, asking them to write a report would be harder. But also, it makes it more accessible to the public.”

Ly-Donovan hopes their work also gives others a chance to engage more critically with history. But that’s not all.

“We think it’s really important that people also see that Augustana University or [other] universities or places of higher education in general are accessible.”

Ly-Donovan says people are welcome to visit the Center for Western Studies for themselves.

The project was approved by the outgoing senior student council at Flandreau Indian School. Participating high schoolers can also earn one college credit through the project.

Regional Health supports Education and Healthcare reporting on SDPB.