The ONWARD Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the stories and materials associated with the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition (RBMVE), a 1930s multidisciplinary expedition through the Southwest. This case study will explore The ONWARD Project’s strategies and experiences in compensating for the lack of Native voices and perspectives in the archival materials from the RBMVE. Discussion is framed around experiences with seeking the identities of unnamed people in historical photographs through community outreach at the 2016 Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona. This paper addresses the way in which The ONWARD Project has developed and implemented a collaborative methodology meant to work against lasting effects of colonialism found in archives and specifically, how it brings Native voices back to photographic material.
The ONWARD Project and Native Voices: Interventions in Biased 1930s Archival Collections
Allison H. Fischer-Olson is the head of research and community outreach for The ONWARD Project, as well as archivist and research librarian for the Lane County History Museum. An alumni of the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Graduate Program at UCLA, her interests center around building collaborative relationships between museums and communities.
Claire Perrott is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Arizona and a researcher for The ONWARD Project. In her dissertation, Claire studies the eruption of Parícutin, a volcano that appeared in a cornfield in Mexico in 1943. She uses visual sources to examine the relationship between culture and landscape in Mexico and the Americas.
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Allison H. Fischer-Olson, Claire Perrott; The ONWARD Project and Native Voices: Interventions in Biased 1930s Archival Collections. The Public Historian 1 February 2020; 42 (1): 80–97. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2020.42.1.80
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