Digital Public History Project (3): Prototype Proposal

To expand public interest in American Indian communities, histories, and issues, this digital history project proposal defines the importance of developing a source that presents content regarding the 1970 Fort Lawton Takeover in where American Indian activists occupied a decommissioned federal fort in the city of Seattle in an attempt to provide a space that could meet the growing social needs among the Urban Indian population in the city at the time. This project aims to bring greater contextualization and opportunities for exploration to members of the public of this historical event and its impacts. This proposal will lay out what the project will encompass.

Historical Questions & Content

Paramount to guiding this project, it will ask the following questions:

  • What were the factors that led up to the conflict over Fort Lawton?
  • How was this event perceived by both Indian and non-Indian witnesses?
  • What were the experiences of the American Indian activists participating in this event?
  • In what ways have political/racial sentiments between Indians and non-Indians change before, during, and after the event?
  • How can the commemoration of the Fort Lawton Takeover highlight the experiences of Urban Indians?
  • How does exploring this event spread public awareness of American Indian connections to local non-Indian local histories and bring attention to American Indian issues?

To answer these questions, the project will bring together archived images of newspaper articles about the event; archival and contemporary video footage; audio recordings of interviews with surviving participants and witnesses of the event; and a compilation of external digital resources to provide greater depth and additional reading materials for those interested in this piece of history. Narrative explanations will be provided to expand on the presented content so as to place the items into context and create a progressive exploration of the events with an interpretive element that brings an Indigenous lens to observe the historical value and modern day impacts of the Fort Lawton Takeover.

Digital Technologies

This project will utilize an online website to host a digitized collection and interpretive exhibit, powered by the web platform Omeka. Omeka will be necessary to host the content and to structure it appropriately to meet the standards of Digital Humanities. And to further expand on the versatility of Omeka as a platform, multiple plugin options will be installed that will allow for greater usage of the collective data. For example, metadata plugins will allow the material to be more searchable through conformity to more consistent standards for metadata scheme and external play plugins will allow videos from other sites to be embedded into the site to increase the variety of content hosted on the website.

Target Audience(s)

This project has two audiences adjacent to each other that will be the focus on the content. One audience will be American Indian communities of the Seattle and Greater Seattle areas, from the Magnolia Neighborhood as the epicenter of the events to the southern Puget Sound region where related protests continued in other locations. It will also include those of the Pan-Indian movements. The other audience is non-Indian members of the same communities who witnessed or were even party to the takeover in 1970. Of these groups, this project will also be of interest to the descendants of those now living under the results, implications, and consequences of the Fort Lawton Takeover. This project will target these audiences because it seeks to bridge the relationship that their respective communities have about one another, identifying the presence and voice of American Indian peoples, how they have shaped the city of Seattle and the surrounding areas, and how societal perspectives of Indians have shifted overtime.

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