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14th Annual Conference


 April 7, 2020 , 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Hogan Center  College of the Holy Cross • Worcester, MA

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Vocabulary in Native American Digital Collections


Sarah Bilotta is Assistant Cataloging and Systems Librarian for the Peabody Essex Museum. She holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science (Archival Studies) from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Clark University. She is also co-editor of the blog of the Students and New Professionals group of the Art Libraries Society of North America. In June 2019, The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) began a project to research the history and current practices of cataloging terminology for Indigenous names and places. While exploring European-biased nomenclatures in library catalogs, library and museum staff at the PEM began conversations about goals for the future of Indigenous collection description. With the help of a summer Native American Fellow (a program the museum has supported since 2010), the library has brought together museum staff, fellows, and colleagues to discuss how museum libraries can decentralize description to more ethically steward Indigenous collections. In this talk, cataloger Sarah Bilotta will discuss her ongoing work with the Native American Fellowship program staff and participants. This collaborative team has conducted research on the Phillips Library’s catalog subject heading system and sought next steps for addressing the bias inherent in the library’s catalog. She will also discuss future goals, including fostering an increasingly searchable, discoverable digital research environment. This talk will highlight research findings in the hopes of sparking a dialogue on how to begin decentralization work in museum and library collection management systems.

Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) is a lifetime educator. He was born and raised in Motahkmikuhk (Indian Township, ME) and is a proud citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township.  Chris’s education career began immediately after high school as a substitute teacher during his time as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College.  At Dartmouth, Chris and other Native students co-founded the Occom Pond Singers, an intertribal drum group as part of the Native Americans at Dartmouth student organization on campus. Pow wows as well as educational performances became the mainstays of the group.  From there, Chris went on to join the Mystic River Singers, an internationally acclaimed and award winning intertribal pow wow drum group based out of Connecticut. For the next two decades, Chris devoted much of his time to Mystic River travelling all over the US and Canada singing at community pow wows and spending time in those communities learning various Native musics.  When it came time to return to the field of education, Chris would earn an interdisciplinary Bachelor of General Studies degree at the University of Connecticut and begin working in museum education.  He serves as the Education Supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and co-founded the Akomawt Educational Initiative, an educational consultancy group working to change the way Native people are taught and talked about in all areas of education including schools, colleges, museums, writing and visual media.  Chris combines his music and education disciplines together to make presentations that educate, but also entertain.  Along with his work in education, Chris has also appeared in feature films and was the Senior Advisor on the Emmy Award winning documentary Dawnland chronicling the historic first ever government sanctioned Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the State of Maine.  He is also a 2019 NEMA Excellence Award Winner for Specific Excellence. His dedication to this work goes back to his experiences at Dartmouth. He is a second generation Native educator looking to change our world for the better. 

Thomas L. Doughton is a Senior Lecturer at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he has taught for 20 years. In scholarship and instructing undergraduates and adult learners, he has specialized in the Holocaust, comparative genocide, Native American studies, local history, and African American history as well as seminars like “Global African Diaspora” and “African Experience in Europe.” A longtime former resident of Paris, Professor Doughton did graduate work at the University of Paris completing a Ph.D. with a dissertation on the relationship of the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre and the emergence of post-colonial discourse in Black Africa. On alternate years he has been taking Holy Cross students abroad for a 6-week summer course entitled “History, Memory and the Holocaust in Central Europe” studying and traveling in Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany. He has also led tours on New England’s African American history for adults. 

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