Interning with the Smithsonian: Update 3

Unfortunately, this update is a bit overdue, but nevertheless, here is the latest report on my internship at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)!

These last few weeks have seen my work transition from the planning stages to the execution stages. After some commentary from my internship coordinator at George Mason University, receiving access to NMAI branding, and general revising, the digital postcard previously demoed in the last update post has been finalized:

I then had the opportunity to participate in a separate edit-a-thon event hosted by the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) with a focus on updating Wikipedia biographies of individuals who had appeared on well known national radio program called In Black American. This was a very valuable experience for me as I have never participated in an edit-a-thon and, as previously discussed, my personal experience with editing Wikipedia has been very limited. This event demonstrated how an edit-a-thon may be organized and executed and it was overall an exciting event. One thing that was very notable and that has contributed to my overall understanding of edit-a-thons is that they can take on many different forms. Edit-a-thons may consist of simple tasks such as editing for grammar/syntax and adding external links to biographies (which was the task for the AAPB event) to large, multi-series events where new pages are created and major editing work occurs. This insight has influenced how the NMAI edit-a-thon will ultimately play out as we are now targeting participants who want to be very involved in the event and create new profiles to those who might be a bit more hesitant to engage in biographical writing and would prefer to perform more routine and low-commitment type edits.

Following this, I certified the direction we’re going with Dr. Montiel (my internship mentor) and began building out a list of Native American women who either need pages created for them or their existing pages need to be updated. Part of the challenge is trying to keep a balanced workflow for the potential participants. Since the event will only last 2.5 hours with much of that time being dedicated to training others how to use and navigate Wikipedia, we must be cognizant of how many profiles we select and develop for this event. So far, a select list of Native women whom we have identified as needing a profile are:

  • Virginia R. Beavert (Yakama)
  • Celilo Miles (Nez Perce)
  • Patsy Whitefoot (Yakama)
  • Ramona Bennett (Puyallup)
  • Mitchelene BigMan (Crow/Hidatsa)
  • Tai Simpson (Nez Perce)

Profiles that we have identified as potentially requiring updating are:

  • Laura Beltz Wright (Alaska Native)
  • Raquel Montya-Lewis (Isleta Pueblo)

With each of these persons on the list, I have compiled links to biographical information already published elsewhere on the internet. The plan is that these links will give participants the information necessary to either begin building profiles or check the existing information to update any inconsistencies or add any new information.

Next, we have begun reaching out to Wikipedians who can join us for this event to offer guidance for those new to editing Wikipedia. We have some individuals within the Smithsonian or are personal contacts of mine or Dr. Montiel, so we used those channels to find help, but as mentioned before, we plan to connect with the Wikimedia DC group to gain additional support and potential promotion for the event. For participants, we have identified two potential key institutions to reach out to: the Native Pathways Program at The Evergreen State College (my alma mater) and Haskell Indian Nations University, an institution that NMAI Librarian Elayne Silversmith mentioned as a good candidate to find participants. We plan to start communicating with these institutions the week of December 1 by making them aware of the event and directing them to the landing page for the event on Wikipedia. Speaking of the landing page, this will hopefully be up by the end of November 30 in time for the communications push.

And finally, an update on my ArcGIS StoryMaps experience. After the training workshop concluded, Dr. Montiel encouraged me to develop a proposal for a project utilizing the StoryMaps application. I chose to create a multimedia story around the Nez Perce experience of the Nez Perce War of 1877. Dr. Montiel submitted the proposal and, unfortunately, it was declined as it was not clear how it aligned with the current 2017-2021 strategic plan for NMAI. But thankfully, there was room to amend the proposal! Working with Dr. Montiel, the initial one page proposal grew to three pages with more explicit examples of how the project relates to the current strategic plan’s priorities and outlined goals of said priorities. I sent this off to Dr. Montiel and we are currently awaiting to see what the answer will be.

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