From Time Immemorial: Centering Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in the Archival Paradigm

iSchool Colloquia Series
From Time Immemorial: Centering Indigenous Traditional Knowledge in the Archival Paradigm

This talk will examine the unique aspects of traditional Indigenous knowledge systems that are at the center of Native American lifeways and culture. Through a decolonizing theory and framework, I argue that it is imperative that these traditional knowledge systems must be the foundation and structure for the overall care and management of Indigenous archives, especially those at non-tribal repositories. I will provide historical context regarding the history of displaced Indigenous archives and highlight key points of the larger social movement to decolonize Indigenous archives through shared stewardship and collaboration. Examples of how this work can be implemented in repositories as well as in curriculum will be presented to show specific examples. Some major achievements of this movement will be highlighted as an example of the role archives and archivists should represent in the development and stewardship of Indigenous archives. I argue that centering Indigenous traditional knowledge systems it is at the foundation of and the key to decolonizing the archival paradigm.


Jennifer R. O’Neal is the University Historian and Archivist at the University of Oregon, and affiliated teaching faculty with the Robert D. Clark Honors College, History Department, and the Native Studies program. She specializes in American West and Native American history, with a specific emphasis on decolonizing methodologies and social movements. Her research and teaching is dedicated to the intersections between the social and cultural contexts in which history and archives exist for marginalized or underrepresented communities and developing frameworks and guidelines for post-custodial and collaborative stewardship of collections. Within the Honors College, she developed an undergraduate history curriculum engaging students in decolonizing pedagogy and community based-research with indigenous community course partners to document the often hidden histories of Oregon’s tribal communities. Previously she served as the Head Archivist at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2006 she participated in drafting the best practices for the respectful care and use of Native American archival materials, which produced the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. She has recent publications in the Journal of Western Archives and in the edited book, Identity Palimpsests: Archiving Ethnicity in the U.S. and Canada. O’Neal serves on various groups in the Society of American Archivists, including the Cultural Heritage Working Group and the Native American Archives Roundtable, as well as the Advisory Board for the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. She is a recent recipient of the Society of American Archivists Diversity Award. She holds a Masters in History from Utah State University and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Arizona. She is a member of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon.

Co-Hosted by: First Nations & Endangered Languages Program, The Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies, and SLAIS, the iSchool@UBC

The event poster is available here.