Intern name: Daniel Bachmeier
Title/place of internship/fellowship, etc.: Azhen (To Return) Intern working in the CSB/SJU Anthropology Department
How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.? Ted Gordon, professor of anthropology at CSB/SJU, reached out to the Summer Leadership Fellows with an offer to work on this project over the summer. I jumped at the opportunity.
What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.? As the Azhen (To Return) Intern, I was tasked with gathering and sorting all mentions of the search terms "White Earth" and "Industrial School" contained in the digitized documents of our four community archives.
First, I identified the archival materials that contained these terms, annotated them, and moved each relevant text section into a comprehensive database of articles. As I worked and discovered previously overlooked documents, I also updated a spreadsheet of all the documents containing these search terms. I then corrected the auto-generated text for any inaccuracies by comparing the generated text to scans of the digitized documents. In total, I compiled 574 pages of text and annotations.
Next, I worked with the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of White Earth and CSB/SJU professor of Anthropology Ted Gordon to synthesize a list of 18 tags of important themes found in the articles. From there, I read and laboriously scruitinized each article before coding them with every relevant tag. Lastly, I sorted the excerpts into separate, more digestible bibliographies grouped by each tag.
What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience? Connecting with the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) from White Earth and learning the immediate and extraordinary value of making these materials more accessible to members of the White Earth Reservation was the most beneficial aspect of my experience. There were a number of excerpts I compiled discussing dispossession and the death of industrial school students that the THPO regarded as especially invaluable. This experience helped me to better understand the extraordinary effects that research can have on the lives of those it touches.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.? I was most surprised by the knowledge that we (CSB/SJU) are the first private institutions working to digitize these types of materials and make them accessible to the tribes afflicted by our role in their attempted cultural genocide. The forced assimilation conducted by missionaries of Native populations absolutely deserves more study for the lessons it teaches us about how we need to continually and critically evaluate missionary work and the cultural assimilation of racial minorities.
How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future? I hope to utilize the unique perspective that reading and analyzing these documents has granted me to inform the values I bring with me to work and to my interactions with others. This experience has also helped me to understand the critical importance of attention to detail.
What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience? If you turn this experience into a labor of love I am sure you will make an impact through your work.