Jennie Flinspach and Brad McMullen
The 2017 Warm Springs Folklife Field School engaged rising eighth graders from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs K-8 Academy in a week-long adventure to explore their heritage and document their cultural traditions.
Students learned fieldwork skills by interviewing each other. Using OFN’s recording equipment, students questioned each other about treasured family objects.
Students worked in groups to conduct interviews with tribal elders. We were honored to hear the elders’ share moving accounts of their heritage and traditions.
On Wednesday, students and staff took a field trip to the Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department. Tribal archivist, Creston (Dana) Smith, one of our on-site teachers, showed us how he preserves the recorded history and culture of Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
After their interviews, students learned to process and analyze audio clips from their audio recordings. They wrote reflections, recorded narration, and assembled clips into a group presentation.
One of the special highlights of the week was Thursday’s visit to the Warm Springs radio station, KWSO 91.9 FM, where Marge Kalama, local radio personality, conducted a live on-air interview with the students.
At the end of the week, the students presented their research to the Warm Springs community. It was the perfect way to end a great week of cultural documentation! But there was still more in store for these young folklorists…
Two weeks later, the students traveled to the University of Oregon for an overnight campus visit. They visited Special Collections, where Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist Jennifer O’Neal showed them the Edward Curtis photographic collection, an invaluable collection of late 19th-century Native American portraits and images of traditional occupations and lifeways.
At the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Curator Cheryl Hartup gave a tour of “Conversations in the Round House: Roots, Roads, and Remembrances,” an exhibit of native works including one from Warm Springs elder, Lillian Pitt.
A stop at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History included a tour of the new Cultural Wing, which includes exhibits and short documentaries about Oregon’s native Tribes, past and present.
Our guests enjoyed a backstage tour of Matthew Knight Arena, where they got to “throw their O” at center court. Capping off the afternoon was a walk through Kalapuya Ilihi Hall, the newest residence hall on campus and home to the new Native American and Indigenous Studies academic residential community.
The next morning, Warm Springs students presented their research at the Many Nations Longhouse to UO Native students, faculty, and staff. At a special luncheon that followed, audience members reciprocated and shared with students the many opportunities and resources available to them as future UO Ducks.
Before heading back to Warm Springs, students had some fun with Professor Kirby Brown (English Department, Native literature), who taught them how to play sjima. Sjima, also known as Shinny Ball, is a traditional game with similarities to hockey and lacrosse and is specific to Oregon’s Klamath tribes.