Beyond the Land Acknowledgement: Indigenous Language Revitalization, Student Activism, and Library Research
- Stefanie Hilles (Miami University)
- Ginny Boehme (Miami University)
Throughout their history, libraries have participated in white supremacist power structures that privilege white knowledge over that of indigenous cultures. Indigenous language revitalization, which seeks to restore the languages of indigenous peoples, is one way libraries can begin to dismantle white supremacist culture. Through the lens of critical theory, this poster will examine a case study involving a collaboration between the library, the natural history museum, and a class of first-year students. This class focused on restoring a botanical walking tour and, as a direct result of student activism, incorporated indigenous language into newly created exhibit labels using an online dictionary of tribal words created by an indigenous tribe and the university that now sits upon their lands. During their research, students realized that many of the trees currently on campus are native to other parts of North America that were home to other indigenous peoples and thus are not represented in this dictionary, presenting significant challenges for the project and revealing the lasting effects of colonialism. This poster will discuss how such language suppression was used as a tool of white supremacist culture and how libraries can participate in social justice work through student research and activism.
Stefanie Hilles is the Arts and Humanities Librarian at Wertz Art and Architecture Library at Miami University, where she is the liaison to the art, architecture, and theater departments, manages their collections, and instructs information literacy sessions. She holds a M.A. in Art History from Case Western Reserve University and a M.L.I.S from Kent State University.
Ginny Boehme is a Science Librarian in Edgar W. King Library at Miami University, where she liaises with the biology; environmental sciences; kinesiology, nutrition, and health; microbiology; and nursing departments. She holds an M.L.I.S. from the University of Alabama. In addition to her duties as a reference and instruction librarian, she does a lot of work with undergraduate student teaching and engagement, including co-teaching in Miami's First-Year Research Experience program and co-chairing the Library Game Knights planning committee.