UB Receives Mellon Planning Grant to Support Development of Haudenosaunee Archives and Resource Collection

BUFFALO, NY – The University of Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences received a planning grant of $ 175,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of a collection of archives and Haudenosaunee resources, bringing together a project long imagined from reality.

The announcement comes as the university continues its work to organize its new Department of Indigenous Studies, also generously supported by the Mellon Foundation through its $ 3.174 million grant to the university in 2019.

The proposed archival and resource collection will establish and house a campus hub where academics, students, educators and community members can research and learn more about the Haudenosaunee. UB will work closely with Indigenous advisors to help create a collection that will allow it to further meet the strategic priorities of the new ministry by inspiring scholarship, advancing Indigenous knowledge so that it is incorporated into all fields and filling the gaps in current societal knowledge regarding the culture, history and experiences of indigenous peoples.

“I was inspired by recent projects funded by the Mellon Foundation that were transforming universities by placing the initiatives of Indigenous communities and communities of color at the center of their concerns,” says grant principal investigator Theresa McCarthy, PhD (Six Nations, Onondaga), Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the new Department of Indigenous Studies and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence at the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We hope to do the same with this project to advance a transformative, open and community-oriented approach at UB that enables Indigenous Knowledge to redefine the traditional epistemologies of our university.

“The aim is to address important local concerns by supporting the development of infrastructure and capacity at UB, as well as at the many Haudenosaunee community repositories near UB, so as to ensure that our important historical and cultural documents remain. here instead of always ending up at collection facilities outside our territories, ”adds McCarthy.

UB is located on the traditional territories of the Seneca Nation, one of the six member nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and is close to the majority of federally recognized tribal nations in New York City, as well as one of the largest First Nations communities in Canada. This proximity can help the department expand the general knowledge of the Haudenosaunee and help standardize their inclusion in public narratives across the state, country and internationally, according to UB Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence Despina Stratigakos, who is also professor at the UB School of Architecture and Planning.

“This project builds on decades of efforts by Haudenosaunee researchers at UB,” says Stratigakos, the project’s co-principal investigator. “As an educational institution with a long legacy of Haudenosaunee scholarships, UB recognizes its responsibility to participate in dismantling colonialist and colonial forms of knowledge production as we strive to become a more just and better place of learning. inclusive. “

The collection will focus on Indigenous data sovereignty and ways of knowing, with an approach that ensures that financial resources to do this work are directed to the Haudenosaunee, students, tribal communities and archives, and to advancement. more ethical and inclusive research and educational practices. .

“We will honor and support Indigenous record keeping expertise and practices under the direct authority of Indigenous Managed Archival Repositories in Haudenosaunee Territory,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy assembled a Haudenosaunee advisory committee to help guide the project and support immediate collection planning. The four board members are all involved in the development of the university’s Indigenous studies department and are also indigenous community members of UB’s Amerindian-Haudenosaunee research group, which has been in existence since 2008:

  • Agnes Williams, a registered member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, Wolf Clan. She is a founding member of Women of All Red Nations, the IWN-Indigenous Women’s Network and its local affiliate IWI-Indigenous Women’s Initiatives.
  • Terry C. Abrams, Tonawanda Seneca, Bear Clan. He is Curator and Collections Manager at the Niagara County Historical Society and President of the Tonawanda Reservation Historical Society.
  • Dinah Porter, Mohawk of Akwesasne, Clan du Loup. She is a long-time employee of Native American Community Services in Erie and Niagara Counties, who has worked as a cultural counselor, Indigenous youth advocate, and advocate for the health and well-being of Indigenous women.
  • Mia McKie, Tuscarora, Turtle Clan. She is a faculty member at UB and is working to complete her doctoral studies in history at the University of Toronto, specializing in Haudenosaunee governance.

The grant initiative and award recognize the accomplishments and aspirations of past and current Haudenosaunee researchers at UB, and give substance to the university’s ongoing discussions with indigenous members of the Seneca, Tuscarora, Tonawanda communities. and Six Nations in western New York and southern Ontario, Canada, according to McCarthy.

“A common thread of these conversations has been the desire to develop this collection of archives and resources that recognizes the sovereignty and intellectual authority of the Haudenosaunee, and to create an infrastructure that will support culturally appropriate care and access to these. documents, ”McCarthy said.

And it was these conversations that directly informed management of the current planning grant, according to Evviva Weinraub Lajoie, vice-president of academic libraries and co-principal investigator of the project.

“It is based on the idea that the Haudenosaunee are in the best position to tell us what their needs are and how we can work with them to improve the accessibility of their history, language and culture,” says Weinraub Lajoie. “We hope that Together we can build a path for better access to the written, recorded and oral traditions of the Haudenosaunee people that will benefit researchers, educators and members of the Confederation.

The archival imperative became clear and began to take shape over 20 years ago, as McCarthy worked with John Mohawk, one of the founders of UB’s Native American Studies program in 1972 and the one of the greatest Haudenosaunee scholars of his generation. Mohawk was McCarthy’s academic supervisor on an archival research project she was developing on behalf of her Six Nations community. A closed research facility encountered a year after the start of the effort prevented completion of the project.

The disappointing conclusion to their work, similar to what many Haudenosaunee experienced throughout the 20th century, prompted Mohawk and McCarthy to reflect on how an archive space at UB would benefit researchers, educators, students and community members, given the lack of access. to collections within colonial collection facilities.

“Dr. Mohawk hoped that one day UB could develop a ‘clearinghouse’ for Haudenosaunee resources that would allow easy access to materials while recognizing the authority of the Haudenosaunee peoples over them through community partnerships,” said McCarthy.

“This grant brings us closer to completing a project that his forward-thinking leadership first envisioned over two decades ago,” she says. “I am delighted with the opportunity that awaits us.

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