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While the focus of information sharing and communication is shifting

to a social book-marking, web.2, technological, Internet, and digital
viewpoint, the human-to-human, face-to-face, storytelling, oral ways of
connecting families and communities remain powerful and compelling. Both
constructivism and sense-making are influenced by cultural constructs. Both
of these theories can be utilized as effective tools to make tribal archival
repositories meaningful to Native American students by effectively
connecting thought with emotion.

Constructivism is a learning theory linked to child development

research in which learning in viewed as an active process in which learners
construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current and past
knowledge. We build upon what we know.
Sense-making is an approach which views learning as continual
process of making sense of a body of knowledge when there is a gap by
gathering information and looking for patterns and connections.

Story: Building blocks

The goal is to introduce students, particularly those in middle school

grades, to their archives

How Native Americans learn:

Face to face
Oral stories
Need “wait time” (silence to reflect on what has been said, to add
more information, to think about what they’d like to say, a sign of respect

500 federally recognized tribes/600 First Nations

Information hierarchy: Data, information, knowledge, wisdom.
Among the Sioux, there is a saying: “The white man sees with only one
eye”. Seeing with only one eye refers to learning only with the mind,
concentrating on facts and information. But there is more. There is nature,
harmony, experience, intuitive knowledge, dreams, visions, and spirituality.

Archive: A place that collects the records of individuals, families, and

Archivist: An individual responsible for handling, preserving, and providing

access to documents and materials of continuing usefulness

Artifact: A three dimensional, physical object produced, shaped, or adapted

by human workmanship

Collection: A group of materials with some unifying characteristic

Document: Any written or printed work

Manuscript: A handwritten document

Oral history: A recording or written transcript of a planned oral interview

Stories and visual images connect thought with emotion “two eyes”

Story: Receipt for a can of peaches

Photo of Native Indian girl in a beaded dress

Story: Dress

Stories on reel-to-reel brittle and fragile as old bones

Story told by Tim Stime (Ojibwe) in 1984:

There was a time when someone killed a moose, he would bring the
moose back to the village and give the meet according to the proper means
of distribution in the community. Nobody would think of hoarding the meat
for themselves. What would happen to those without meat? And how would
the meat be preserved anyway?
After electricity came into the village of the first things people got
was the freezer. Now when someone kills a moose, he can just throw the
meat in the freezer and it will last all winter. The whole value of sharing
meat is changing. In Ojibwe, the word for freezer means “stingy box”.
Archives are not a stingy box.
Tribal archives are like elders who protect and share our stories; they
honor our ancestors, bridge generations, and share knowledge, thus
preserving the history of our people. Recognizing Native American learning
styles, including the use of storytelling as a teaching technique as well as
language which is picture and emotion based, are techniques which can be
utilized to help Native American students begin the process of
recognizing that tribal archives places where we can connect with each
other through time and space, providing us with a vibrant view of our history
through records, letters, treaties, oral recordings, and photographs.