Sunday, June 7, 2009

Travel Study Blog Notes

Some semi-random thoughts. I've been thinking about these for awhile, but couldn't find a way to smoothly include them in a blog post ... so they get their own post.
1.) Be sure to scroll down once in awhile to the earlier articles. Even if you've seen them before; you may want to look again. As students present their photos to me, I often add more photos to earlier days' posts.

2.) It took me about six hours this afternoon and evening to collect, view, and select images from the Canyon Del Muerto hike, then put together that post. I know we have lots of great images from our weekend with Harry Walters and family at Cove, Arizona. On Sunday evening when this post was written, students were still checking their images, loading them to their laptops and Facebook pages.

3.) Answers to a couple comments I've received about the blog:

   - Yes, we're having fun and seeing cool things. We're also doing some serious work and learning about a completely different culture that is inside the United States. It's challenging and can be frustrating for the students sometimes. But, they're hanging in there and, as you can see, getting a lot out of this experience.

  - The camaraderie among this group is amazing. Many had never met each other before this trip. Even when they disagree, they do it constructively and with class. They're helping each other all the time: physically, such as carrying stuff for each other; and technologically, working with each other's computers and software, etc. The students helped my faculty colleague Cindy learn how to "Skype" so she can communicate back home via video link. They also taught Chops about Facebook. In less than a day Chops had more than 100 Facebook friends. 

  - Feel free to pass along the link to this page to anyone you think might be interested to follow our progress. The photos can also be downloaded. On a PC, right-click on an image an select "save image..." On a Mac, press and hold "control" while clicking on an image and select "save image..." from the drop down menu. Remember the images are automatically copyrighted by the person who created them. You can enjoy them for personal use, but they should not be published further in any other way without the consent of the photographer. 

  - The trip, and the student journalism projects, are approved in several ways by the Navajo Nation. Because so many people over the years have taken advantage of native peoples, the Nation is protective. Over a three year period, I navigated the tribal approval processes and secured all approvals so we could do our work with credibility. 

    WSU is one of only a handful of universities in the country to have an official "memorandum of agreement" with Diné College recognizing a partnership between the two schools. The other schools recognized as partner institutions with Diné College are: The University of Arizona, The University of New Mexico, The University of California-Los Angeles, and Brigham Young University. WSU is in very good company here.
    In addition to the partnership agreement MOU, Winona State has applied for and received the following documents supporting this program:

- Permit for Ethnographic Research from the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department

- Certification by the Navajo Nation Human Research Review Board

- Certification by the Winona State University Institutional Review Board

- Certification by the Diné College Institutional Review Board

- Resolutions of Support from:
   The Board of Regents of Diné College
   The Navajo Nation Library
   The Navajo Nation Museum
   The Navajo Times Newspaper
   Chinle Chapter Government
   Cove Chapter Government
   Crystal Chapter Government
   Fort Defiance Chapter Government
   Lukachukai Chapter Government
   Round Rock Chapter Government
   Tsaile/Wheatfields Chapter Government

This project has also received generous support from the Winona State University Foundation over the past two years and the WSU Travel Study program to facilitate travel required to make connections, build relationships, research sites and individuals considered as interview participants, and make presentations before college and tribal officials to secure approval.

Thanks to all who have supported this important project -- especially to Dr. Miranda Haskie of the Diné College faculty, who was early to join in creating the vision for this collaborative project; and with whom this program could not have been successful.

-- Tom Grier

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