Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pre-Travel Class - Day 2

Today (Wednesday, May 30, 2012) was the second day of the Navajo Oral History class -- a collaboration between Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota, and Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation.

The class was held via ITV with the Minnesota and Arizona classrooms connected despite the nearly 1,500 miles that separates them.

Students listened to short lectures from the class faculty: Miranda Haskie of Diné College and Tom Grier and Robbie Christiano of Winona State University.


After the ITV part of class ended, Robbie Christiano led a tutorial on how to operate the group's video gear.

In the evening, the Winona students attended a BBQ social at Tom and Julie Grier's house and watched a documentary about life on the Navajo reservation.

Next week, the students will be in the field on the Navajo Nation, completing service projects for Navajo elders, then interviewing the elders -- gathering photographs, video and audio. The college student groups will produce documentaries about five Navajo elders which will be permanently archived at the Navajo Nation Museum and Library as well as at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.

First Pre-Travel Class

The 2012 Navajo Oral History Project held its first class meeting on Tuesday, May 29.  This is a "Pre-Travel Class" through which the students meet each other and begin research about the Navajo culture and general journalism topics in preparation for the field work that begins next week.

10 Diné College students gathered in an Interactive Television (ITV) classroom at the DC Main Campus in Tsaile, Arizona, and connected with 12 Winona State University students in a WSU classroom in Winona, Minnesota.


Each student introduced themselves in the traditional Navajo way, giving their names then their clans. For the WSU students, this meant speaking about their mother and father's family names and heritage, then grandparents names and heritage. Many of the Diné College students introduced themselves in the Navajo language and then translated.

The class leaders are Dr. Miranda Haskie, professor of Sociology and Behavioral Sciences at Diné College; Dr. Tom Grier, professor of Mass Communication, Winona State University, and Mr. Robbie Christiano, a recent WSU Mass Communication graduate, current graduate student and teaching assistant for the course.

Each class leader spoke of their vision for the class and introduced concepts to begin preparing students to build positive working relationships with each other and to develop skills related to journalism and visual journalism.


Two more ITV-based classes will occur this week, then the WSU students will travel to the Navajo Nation where they will spend nearly three weeks in the field conducting research and interviews centered on a Navajo elder, with the ultimate goal of creating Living History documentaries about each elder.

This blog will be updated almost daily throughout the project, allowing family and friends to follow the class process.  In the future, student-produced photos and words will be featured here frequently.

In the near future, there will be a blog post which introduces each student and faculty member with a mugshot-style photo so readers can get to know the class members.

The blog is hosted and produced by Dr. Tom Grier.  Occasionally in writing the blog, I may slip into first-person narration style narration (as I did just there... and there again).  When that happens, you'll know it's me talking.  Photos on the blog are by Tom Grier, unless otherwise credited -- my preference is for you to see many photos credited to the excellent visual journalists that are part of this project.

I encourage blog-readers to "favorite or bookmark" the blog, and check in often, or register as a "follower" of the blog to get reminders when the blog is updated. Share the blog address as far and wide as you wish so interested people can follow the hard work, dedication of the students as well as the fun they have during this adventure. In addition, you can read further down the blog-- into the past-- and see what previous classes have done. This is the fourth year of the Navajo Oral History project!

Finally, the blog is open for reader comments. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions here. The students appreciate knowing the blog is being read and love hearing reader comments.

Thanks for your interest and support of this important project.

-- Dr. Tom Grier, WSU

Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 Navajo Oral History Project Begins May 29

On May 29, the day after Memorial Day, a group of Winona State University and Diné College students will begin their summer journalism experience: the 2012 Navajo Oral History Project. The students begin meeting via Interactive Television (ITV) between the two campus locations: Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, and Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.
The students will meet via ITV three times that week as they prepare for nearly three weeks of field work on the Navajo Nation beginning June 3.
The Minnesota students will stay in residence halls at Diné College and will work in partnership teams with DC students. The teams will do a service project for a Navajo elder, and then interview the elder three times. The groups will produce documentary film projects about the elders.
The documentaries will be archived at the Navajo Nation Museum and Library and at the WSU and DC Libraries; and will also be archived at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of the American Indian.
While on the Navajo Nation, the Winona State students will participate in Navajo cultural activities including a camping weekend at a Navajo family's sheep camp in Canyon de Chelly and visiting the Navajo Tribal Government Center.
For the next several weeks, this blog will cover the Navajo Oral History project. I, and the students, will write blog entries about our daily activities including text and photos.
Bookmark or "favorite" this blog and check it often to stay up to date on this important and fun learning adventure. Feel free to look back through past years' blog entries for a glimpse at how the project has progressed, changed and improved over the years. Share the blog with friends, family members and anyone that may be interested.
Thanks for your interest.

-- Dr. Tom Grier
   Professor of Mass Communication
   Winona State University

The WSU Students participating in the 2012 Navajo Oral History Project (and their majors and hometowns) are:

Shannon Bolte, photojournalism, Rochester, Minn.
Joel Farber, communication studies and mass communication, Hastings, Minn.
Kelsey Foss, public relations, Sparta, Wis.
Emily Gust, public relations, Verona, Wis.
Liam Krause, photojournalism, Deerfield, Wis.
Kelly Kusilek, public relations, Cannon Falls, Minn.
Elena Lavorato, journalism, Oakdale, Minn.
Sammi Luhmann, journalism, Robbinsdale, Minn.
Laura McCormick, public relations, Apple Valley, Minn.
Rachel Rivers, photojournalism, Wabasha, Minn.
Stefani Schmidt, journalism and political science, Winona, MN
Elisenda XifraReverter, photojournalism, Girona, Spain

Diné College students are still registering for the course and will be introduced on the blog when the class begins.