In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) is now searching for fellows to conduct research based on the stored data available through their Indigenous Digital Archive (IDA). The IDA emerged last year, funded by national grants, and contains materials from around the country with a specific focus on New Mexico’s Indian boarding schools, and water and land claims from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. Applications for these research fellowships were due November 11th, and by the time research commences in March, the MIAC intends to have IDA fully operational. The research fellowships exist primarily to jump-start the use of the museum’s collections, and furthermore to encourage others to do so as well. Their hope is that when others see the knowledge being produced through the records available through the Indigenous Digital Archive, they will be encouraged to follow suit. This strikes me as a fascinating form of outreach. Instead of telling folks what is available in their collections, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is funding researchers to show what is possible.
This is only the latest step in outreach that the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has taken. The IDA itself originated to meet the needs of those who wanted to access the museum’s records but could not travel to them in order to do so. A few years ago when Della Warrior first became the MIAC’s director, she met with roughly 100 representatives from New Mexico’s many tribal communities in an effort to learn how the MIAC could better serve them. The general response called for easier access to materials, which culminated in the IDA. The IDA itself will start by publishing 150 linear feet of government microfilmed records, which equates to roughly 270,000 pages from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the U.S. National Archives.
I wrote before about Arizona State University’s efforts to use their holdings to tell the state’s diverse histories. Theirs was one story of outreach that I felt held potential. I would say the work being done at MIAC, led by Della Warrior, is an exceptional example of archival outreach. Their Indigenous Digital Archive was created to accommodate public demand and to increase accessibility, and to further increase the usage of their digitized records the MIAC is funding research fellows to show the tribal communities across New Mexico the possibilities waiting for them. These research fellows can conduct genealogical research into their families or create projects that “amplify the information in the indigenous documents.” The work being done at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture strikes me as exemplary, and I strongly agree with Director Della Warrior’s expectations for their collections newfound accessibility; “It’s going to be like a gold mine.”
 Megan Bennett, “’A Gold Mine’ of Native Documents,” Albuquerque Journal, November 10th, 2017. https://www.abqjournal.com/1090776/a-gold-mine-of-native-documents.html. (Accessed, 12/1/17).