Summer Learning @ Octavia Fellin Public Library

The Octavia Fellin Public Library (OFPL) in Gallup, NM used the funds from the Summer Learning Resource Grant to purchase equipment to begin a Youth Media Lab where tweens and teens would have access to film and audio equipment as well as editing software. At the end of May OFPL was approached by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. seeking help for creating a multimedia project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, which allowed the Navajo Tribe to return to their ancestral homelands after being deported to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. We partnered with the organization utilizing our new equipment and community members to create an intergenerational reading of the Treaty accessible to a modern audience.

The resulting project involved 14 community participants (youth and adult) from the community, and historical photographs from the Library of Congress and National Archives. It was shown at 3 commemoration events in Flagstaff, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Gallup, New Mexico. OFPL also hosted an exhibit detailing the importance of the treaty and its lasting impacts.

Marilyn Help Hood sings a traditional Din’e song during the commemoration event in Gallup, NM.

The partnership between OFPL and the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. was ultimately successful, but there were many details that required extensive communication between our two organizations. The first of which being which party is responsible for recruiting the participants. It was decided that the library would both recruit and record the participants for the project. Due to this all participants signed the OFPL’s media release, and final ownership of the project was determined to belong to OFPL.  

Recruiting participants was the most pertinent task to getting the project off the ground. Initially, the idea was to recruit only youth community members for the project. OFPL reached out to the local Children’s Theatre and other youth organizations in addition to the general in-house advertising. It became apparent after a few youth participants recorded portions of the treaty that some adults would need to record the more technical portions of treaty. The Miss Navajo Council, Inc. supplied a few of the adult readers. As previously mentioned, the project involved 14 community participants with 6 of them being local youth.    

Two of the youth participants were siblings whose father works for the Department of Justice directly with the Navajo Nation. They were particularly interested in the project because their father mentioned referring to portions of the treaty almost daily in his work. The project offered them an opportunity to better understand their father’s work and see how the 150 year old treaty is still being used in lawmaking and government practices today.

The multimedia presentation was put together over the span of about 2 months and ran around 25 minutes featuring historic photographs of the era chosen by a library staff member and a member of the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. OFPL further collaborated with the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. on the advertising materials for the events and the venue set up. Both organizations have discussed the possibility of collaborating on other programs in the future.

Anne Price is the Youth Services Manager for the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup, NM.

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