Get the latest
Recent Posts

Introducing the Archivist Behind the Native American Oral History Project

In some ways Fallon Carey is what you might expect from a young person in their first job out of college. She’s bright, enthusiastic, and eager to find her way into her career. But what one learns about Fallon after talking with her for just a few minutes is that she is deeply rooted in her work and very passionate about making a difference. “I want to make sure that this is done right,” Fallon explains. “It’s very, very important that people have a pathway to their past.”

What this Special Collections Archivist is talking about is her work on the Native American oral histories project that has been funded by the Doris Duke Foundation. In a nutshell, the project will improve the cataloguing of oral histories given by Native Americans, making the interviews more readily available to Tribal Citizens and descendants of the individuals interviewed in the collection.

Fallon, a Citizen of Cherokee Nation, is now reviewing more than 1,400 oral histories completed from 1960 to 1972. Most of the interviews are with individuals of the Navajo and Zuni Tribes, but there are 30 tribes represented.

A Gates Millennium Scholar who recently earned her Master of Library Science degree through the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Fallon isn’t new to information science work. She interned at the Walker Art Center Archives and at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Creative Services Department. She recently completed some K-12 curriculum work for the Indigenous Representations Project, making it easier for teachers to include Native American history and culture into their teaching. Currently, Fallon serves on the Hennepin County Native Advisory Council, which is charged with advising on community outreach and library policy that supports the Native Peoples in the Twin Cities.

What is Fallon’s favorite part of her archivist job at the library? “I love getting to know the people represented in the collections,” says Fallon. “Piecing together the relationships and the contributions of individuals is heartening and I want these stories to be seen and enjoyed widely.”

“I want to make sure that this is done right,” Fallon explains. “It’s very, very important that people have a pathway to their past.”

Joseph Myers (deceased), a Pomo Indian of northern California, represents one such story. Myers began his career as the first known California Indian on the California Highway Patrol and later went on to receive his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Working tirelessly toward justice and equality for Native Americans, Myers founded the National Indian Justice Center – a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice in Indian country.

Additionally, the collection contains interviews with activists who participated in the Occupation of Alcatraz, former Miss Navajo contestants, Navajo Code Talkers, as well as hundreds of interviews with tribal elders.

Fallon is determined to make the end product a true value to Indigenous Peoples. “I want to make this a collection that will inspire and be useful to generations to come. For Indigenous Peoples who are survivors of genocide and cultural assimilation, these interviews are a contribution to the preservation of Indigenous culture and language.”

Doris Duke Native American Oral Histories Project

Last February, the Marriott Library learned it would receive a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to support a major project to amplify Indigenous voices. Through the funding, library faculty and staff in the Special Collections Division are using new technologies to index and transcribe these interviews, with the goal of enhancing and expanding access to oral histories that were gathered in the late 1960s and 70s.

1 Comment
  • John Gary Maxwell
    Posted at 18:40h, 28 October Reply

    Congratulations on your appointment and the receipt of the Doris Duke support.
    I am somewhat surprised that this newspiece did not mention the remarkable contributions of Dr. Floyd O’Neil and I hope that
    your work will do that.
    Former director of special collections, Dr. Greg Thompson, can also be a very valuable resource. He spent many years at the Marriott
    and was particularly close to Floyd.
    Wishing you success in this effort.

Post A Comment