Native American Histories and Public Memory

Endorsed by the OAH Committee on National Park Service Collaboration, the Oral History Association, and the Western History Association

Thursday, April 2, 2020, 12:45 PM - 2:15 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Museums; Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples; Public History and Memory


This panel features indigenous elders and scholars who collaborate to share stories and experiences of Native American communities, while revising public memories of Native American histories. Each of the panelists delves into their personal spaces and ties to Native American communities, within or beyond American Indian reservations, which propels their developing works and service of public history. They have initiated indigenous history projects from rural to border town to urban spaces. These historians seek to serve and address the questions and needs of Native American communities. They develop partnerships and reciprocity between tribal museums and universities through service-learning.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Farina Noelani King, Northeastern State University
Bilagáanaa niliigo’ dóó Kinyaa’áanii yásh’chíín. Bilagáanaa dabicheii dóó Tsinaajinii dabinálí. Ákót’éego diné asdzá̹á̹ nilí̹. Farina King is “Bilagáanaa” (Euro­American), born for “Kinyaa’áanii” (the Towering House Clan) of the Diné (Navajo). Her maternal grandfather was Euro­American, and her paternal grandfather was “Tsinaajinii” (Black­streaked Woods People Clan) of the Diné. She is Assistant Professor of History and an affiliate of the Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Department at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She received her U.S. History Ph.D. at Arizona State University.

She was the 2016-2017 David J. Weber Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America at the Clements Centers for Southwest Studies of Southern Methodist University. She was the 2015­2016 Charles Eastman Dissertation Fellow at Dartmouth College. She received her M.A. in African History from the University of Wisconsin and a B.A. from Brigham Young University with a double major in History and French Studies. Her main area of research is colonial and post­colonial Indigenous Studies, primarily Indigenous experiences of colonial and boarding school education. She is the author of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century, which the University Press of Kansas published in 2018. In this book, she explores how historical changes in education shaped Diné collective identity and community by examining the interconnections between Navajo students, their people, and Diné Bikéyah (Navajo lands). The study relies on Diné historical frameworks, mappings of the world, and the Four Sacred Directions.

To learn more about her work and background, visit her website at

Panelist: Ernestine E. Berry, John Hair Cultural Center and Museum
Ernestine Berry is a Keetoowah elder and artist as well as the Director of the John Hair Cultural Center and Museum. She has launched various projects and exhibits for the center and museum, including the updating exhibit on "Missing Pieces: Rediscovering Keetoowah Law, Language, and Literature." She has collaborated with Dr. Farina King's class on service-learning at Northeastern State University.

Panelist: Rachael Cassidy, University of New Mexico
Rachael K. Cassidy is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who is currently a doctoral student of History of the American West and Native American History at the University of New Mexico. She specializes in studies of Native American sovereignty, myth and memory, and oral history. She has produced media to engage audience with academic research, and she has over ten years of experience working in museums and cultural education including at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. She also works as an assistant editor for the New Mexico Historical Review. Her research focuses on Native American historical experiences and presence in Washington, D.C. over generations.

Panelist: Midge Dellinger, Northeastern State University
Diana (Midge) Dellinger resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a graduate student at Northeastern State University, located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, pursuing a Master of Arts in American Studies, with an emphasis on Native American Studies. Her collegiate history includes a Bachelor of Science in Education, from Oklahoma State University, a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, from Northeastern State University, a minor in American History, and an Associate’s degree in General Biology. She has her career sights set on teaching Native American and U.S. history to those in pursuit of higher education. Her dream job is to teach for the College of the Muscogee Nation, which is a public two-year institution.

Midge is a tribal member and employee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She works in the Food Distribution department, helping tribal people obtain food assistance. Midge is also an active member of the Tulsa Creek Community Center. She is descended from the influential, yet controversial Chief William McIntosh, Jr. and his son, Chief Chilly McIntosh. Both of whom played important roles in the lives and history of the Muscogee people. Midge is currently active with the Southwest Oral History Association, serving as their Student Representative. Her research focuses on revising the historical narrative and public memory of the Battle of Honey Springs by recentering on Indigenous perspectives. She also has contributed to various service-learning projects with Cherokee and Keetoowah communities.

Panelist: Benjamin Norman, Pamunkey Indian Tribe
Benjamin Norman is an enrolled citizen of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe of Virginia. Benjamin has worked as an educator and cultural interpreter for the National Museum of the American Indian since the museum opened in 2004. Benjamin has also worked with the Smithsonian Folklore Festival as a cultural ambassador for his tribal nation. Benjamin’s cultural interests include powwow singing, pottery and fishing.