Digitizing the Fort Lawton Takeover: Project Evaluation

As the deadline of my project approaches, I have been prompted to explain my rationale for this project. In this explanation, I will summarize my motivations for choosing this subject; I will highlight the arguments it makes; and I will propose the intellectual and practical justifications for my choices of this subject and the design of my site to reinforce this point. Ultimately, I want the readers of this post to walk away with an understanding of the project in its entirety. Furthermore, I will also provide a snapshot of how this work will be evaluated so as to affirm the rationale.

WHY FORT LAWTON?

It has been a lengthy journey since the start of this project at the beginning of the semester, relatively speaking. Though I managed to stick with the same subject, how I was approaching it ebbed and flowed like a river. I think the “Project Overview” tab on the project site explains well enough the academic pursuits of my idea and what I seek to accomplish with the site. While the build up to the Fort Lawton Takeover and eventual climax with the event itself are key moments in the fights for sovereignty of American Indians and recognition for Urban Indians, the takeover was also a temporal marker in how it was placed into the greater historical context it occurred in and how it shaped future racial/political relationships to come between Indians and non-Indians in and around Seattle.

My project argues that there is a need to understand how this event in particular is responsible for affecting the changing racial and political landscape. It identifies key audiences that would actually benefit from a more exploratory approach to this subject provided by an examination of narratives and interpretive commentary from a member of the marginalized people connected to these narratives. The argument asserts that while there is a lot of information concerning this subject, not enough has been done to see how it was folded into larger narratives about Indians and how it stood out in its own right. Furthermore, this project argues that those who come from the generation that participated in this fight are still experiencing the results of the Fort Lawton Takeover. Epistemological and political arguments aside, this project reveals how American Indians (and in this case, Urban Indians) played an active role in shaping the local history of the Magnolia Neighborhood, the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, and the greater relationship between American Indians and the United States federal government and continue to do so to this day.

INTELLECTUAL AND Practical PURPOSES

A big motivating factor for me when I started this project was to help commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the Fort Lawton Takeover. As noted in various places, I have a familial connection to the event as my grandma participated during the initial takeover. As I dug deeper into the material, two things become very apparent to me:

  1. It was clear that there had been significant scholarly work done in this area and it was not lacking in either research or resources.
  2. Despite the reasonable amount of academic work on this topic, there were indeed examples of where this history was completely glossed over.

Small gaps that they may be, I believe it is very important for this history to be noted whenever there is a review conduct of this area whether that is for city planning, urban development, rezoning, or any sort of dedication of public funds to locations with significant historical value. There is an implication made to someone like me, a person who identifies as both an American Indian and an Urban Indian, that if these parts of our history and influence are easily glossed over, this is a reflection of public sentiment.

When visiting Discovery Park in the Magnolia Neighborhood, it is clear that the area is affluent. There are also locations dedicated to local history in the park. But it is not readily apparent the influence of the Urban Indian community has had on the immediate area unless you are familiar with the place. This means that, in my anecdotal experience, there could be a deficit in historical knowledge about this topic despite the hefty legacy it has left behind that is observable to someone in my position.

Combining these reasons brings forth the purpose of the project that I explained in my overview. My project provides an opportunity to explore this historical event that to some might be a nebulous piece of the greater background that is Seattle through novel interpretation and the centering of American Indians in the work. The use of archived footage and newspapers helps to inform the audience about how even perceived “objective” sources reveal the sentiments of the time of those responsible for producing the piece and reflecting their audiences. And the utilization of original oral histories both connects this past event to the contemporary world and demonstrates the value of the preferred methods of Indigenous Peoples. The creation of this project is a testament to these things. The subject itself is a testament to the goals I have set forth. I want the sacrifices and victories of my people—my family—to be remembered. Truly, then, this project carries both the intellectual goal of filling gaps in historical knowledge and the practical goal of reminding the general public of the different groups that also make up “the public.”

EVALUATION

These are ambitious goals (albeit on a smaller, relative scale) that I hope to meet with this project. To understand my progress, I have developed an evaluation plan that I will share here. My outcome goals dictate the primary ways I will determine interactivity with the project. The assets/resources explain what I am providing with this project that will hopefully be reviewed by users which can then be tracked through monitoring the outcome goals. My activities instruct me on how to promote the aspects of the project. Listing my audiences identifies those I should be targeting with my promotional attempts and prioritizes the type of feedback I am looking for. My indicators of success will inform me of the progress toward my outcome goals. And finally, the long-term impacts help me plan for the future of the project.

Outcome goals:

  1. Increased traffic to blog site as the host for the project and Regular traffic to the project site of 5-10 users a week with increases during relevant times (posting around anniversary dates about the Fort Lawton Takeover and related events during the Fish Wars).
  2. Generate feedback through the “Contact” form on the project website with hopefully 2 critiques a month.

Assets/Resources:

  1. Online exhibit utilizing existing online resources and collection of oral histories.
  2. Source of historical information on the Fort Lawton Takeover.

Activities:

  1. Launching promotional posts on select social media platforms and establishing a Facebook page for the project.
  2. Continue with sustained promotion over a 3 month period and when new items are added to the project site.

Audiences

  1. Native Americans in and around Seattle and Urban Native Youth interested in their historical landscape and potentially involved in secondary and post-secondary education.
  2. Non-Native residents of Seattle and the Magnolia Neighborhood.

Indicators of Success:

  1. Hitting 5-10 users per week in the initial launch and promotional period of 3 months.
  2. Receive at least 2 feedback contacts per month within the initial launch and promotional period of 3 months.

Long-Term Impacts:

  1. Greater social awareness of (Urban) American Indian presence in Seattle and the Magnolia Neighborhood area.
  2. Have a sustainable resource for further historical education and increased traffic to other digital projects and resources.

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Kyle

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