The American Indian Oral History Manual: Making Many Voices Heard

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Oral history is a widespread and well-developed research method in many fields—but the conduct of oral histories of and by American Indian peoples has unique issues and concerns that are too rarely addressed. This essential guide begins by differentiating between the practice of oral history and the ancient oral traditions of Indian cultures, detailing ethical and legal parameters, and addressing the different motivations for and uses of oral histories in tribal, community, and academic settings. Within that crucial context, the authors provide a practical, step-by-step guide to project planning, equipment and budgets, and the conduct and processing of interviews, followed by a set of examples from a variety of successful projects, key forms ready for duplication, and the Oral History Association Evaluation Guidelines. This manual is the go-to text for everyone involved with oral history related to American Indians.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an excellent guide and sourcebook for anyone conducting oral history projects in Native American and Alaska Native contexts. The guide is equally helpful for those working in villages, reservations, and heterogeneous schools. Although written with the Lower 48 in mind, the book's suggestions and information are relevant throughout North America. The writing is good and clear, the organization helpful, the suggestions right on point. The section on intellectual copyright is a particularly valuable contribution to the literature. The guide is both timely and timeless: its treatment of the ever-changing realm of recording equipment, which wisely references Internet resources, will remain useful for many years to come."

—Patricia H. Partnow, Ph.D., Vice President of Cultural and Educational Services, Alaska Native Heritage Center

"Fortunately for researchers today, clear methodology in collecting and processing oral history is available in this guide. The contents will be especially useful to tribal and urban Indian communities as well as to academic research. A great strength is the authentic tone of concern over the urgency to record the history.... Add to that authenticity the information on tribal protocols for approaching elders, protection of sacred stories, legal and ethical issues, and a step-by-step process for gathering oral history from distinct American Indian communities with attention to details that need to be addressed and the result is a handbook that deserves to be carried daily as projects are being developed and completed."

—Janis Fairbanks, Michigan Oral History Association Newsletter

“While this manual is must reading for anyone contemplating an oral history project involving Native American narrators or societies, its approach will be of great value to historians working with any ethnic group. Examples … are numerous throughout the manual, demonstrating the authors’ commitment to upholding specific standards and their knowledge of oral history. Any person or institution thinking of an American Indian oral history project must consider this manual for its practicality, style, and content.”

Oral History Review

...[I]t contributes to the practice of American Indian research and reflects the philosophy of Indigenous methodology, which is rooted in Indigenous knowledge and has been informed by the work of many Indigenous scholars. ...[This book] is unique in that it is a manual that has been developed to assist tribal communities in collecting oral history from their own community members. It encourages tribal control of research projects, emphasizes tribal needs and protocol, and provides a practical guide to planning, collecting, and preserving oral history while protecting, respecting, and honoring a narrator’s experience.

American Indian Quarterly

"The American Indian Oral History Manual offers a clear, succinct, and practical approach to guide and encourage the collection of American Indian oral history by Indigenous peoples themselves. Building on previous work conducted for the Native American Veteran History Project, it was tested at two Great Plains states workshops (South Dakota and Nebraska) attended by representatives from tribal colleges and veteran interest groups. The authors bring a great deal of expertise to the table in producing this useful text."

— Susan D. Penfield, Center for Great Plains Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598741483
  • Publisher: Left Coast Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 926,960
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles E. Trimble is an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, served as Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972 to 1978, and has been a trustee of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. He is President of Red Willow Institute, a non-profit corporation he founded to provide technical and management assistance to Native American non-profit organizations, and is a columnist for Indian Country Today.

Barbara W. Sommer, M.A., has over twenty-five years of experience in the oral history field. She has been principal investigator and director of more than twenty major oral history projects and has taught at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Vermilion Community College. She is a long-time member of the Oral History Association and is author of many key publications in the field, including, with Mary Kay Quinlan, The Oral History Manual, 2nd ed. (AltaMira Press, 2009) and with Charles E. Trimble and Mary Kay Quinlan, The American Indian Oral History Manual: Making Many Voices Heard (Left Coast Press, Inc., 2008). Her award-winning book Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2008) draws on oral history interviews about the Civilian Conservation Corps, as does her essay, “’We Had This Opportunity:’ African Americans and the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota,” in The State We’re In: Reflections on Minnesota History, Annette Atkins and Deborah L. Miller, eds, (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2010). She also is the author of a history of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln based on oral history (University of Nebraska Press, 2012). She holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and a master’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota.

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