Grant continues support of indigenous culture preservation

By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries

Kim-Christen-80PULLMAN, Wash. – A recent federal grant of $698,605 will help Washington State University continue to provide training to local tribal archives, libraries and museums in preserving their cultural assets through digital archiving technology.

The grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services will also support a new tribal digital archives curriculum coordinator in the WSU Libraries.

Members of seven Indian tribes from across four states participated in the second regional SHN workshop, which was held earlier this month at WSU.

The libraries and College of Arts and Sciences are creating a three-year project, the “Tribal Stewardship Cohort Program: Digital Heritage Management, Archiving and Mukurtu CMS Training.” An earlier IMLS grant helped WSU build the foundation for the project, the “Sustainable Heritage Network” (http://www.sustain
). More about its scope can be found at

Members of seven Indian tribes from across four states participated in the second regional SHN workshop, which was held earlier this month at Holland Library on the WSU Pullman campus.

Collaboration for culture, history

The new program will address a key need to provide hands-on, long-term training for tribal archives, libraries and museums that emphasizes both the technical and cultural issues surrounding digitization and preservation of cultural heritage materials, said Kim Christen Withey, WSU associate professor of English and director of digital projects for the WSU Plateau Center, Native American Programs. (photo attached)

“This collaboration between CAS and the libraries shows the commitment across campus to support our mission as a land-grant university to serve the public through innovative educational opportunities,” she said.

The project also exemplifies the continuing importance of linking technology to a shared understanding of culture and history, said Todd Butler, associate professor and chair of the English department.

“We are bringing students and faculty members together with community partners to sustain the past and advance our shared future,” he said. “It’s precisely the sort of work that the humanities can accomplish when an institution like WSU commits itself to a broader understanding of its role in society.”

Curriculum about digital preservation

The new libraries position will assist in developing, coordinating and promoting a 15-month curriculum focused on emphasizing the lifecycle of digital preservation and access, with specific attention to tribal needs and relevant issues.

“The curriculum coordinator position will allow us to provide unprecedented levels of service to tribal archives and libraries,” said Beth Blakesley, associate dean of libraries. “The new grant funding will also provide for a new technical support position that will bolster our development of the Mukurtu CMS.” (

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. For more information, visit


Kim Christen Withey, WSU Plateau Center, 509-335-4177,
Beth Blakesley, WSU Libraries, 509-335-6134,
Adrian Aumen, WSU College of Arts & Sciences communications, 509-335-5671,
Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries public relations/communications, 509-335-6744,