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NEH awards NSU Humanities Initiative Grant

(Tahlequah, Oklahoma) — Northeastern State University professors plan to use a recent grant award to highlight Cherokee and the diverse regional histories of Tahlequah and surrounding areas of what is known as Green Country in Northeastern Oklahoma. 
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced a Humanities Initiatives grant to Northeastern State University project director, Dr. Farina King and co-project director Dr. John McIntosh, for the Mapping Tahlequah History Project.

The Mapping Tahlequah History Project is a curriculum development and public history project that creates an interactive map and database to be used in seven courses in Northeastern State University’s College of Liberal Arts in the amount of $95,503 over three years.
The project provides a platform for students and community members to contribute and disseminate original local historical, cultural and linguistic research through an online interactive map and an accompanying database.

NSU serves over 2,500 Native American students, which is one of the largest Native American student populations in the country. 

“The majority of our Native American students identify with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, which both center their nations in Tahlequah,” King said. “For this project, we are growing our team to concentrate on the intersections of race, ethnicity and Cherokee and Indigenous studies through place-based historical research. This community-centered work focuses on Indigenous and racial histories, historic sites and landscapes, and Indigenous place names and languages that layer the map and knowledge of our area.”

The Mapping Tahlequah History Project received seed funding through two small grants from the NSU Center for Teaching and Learning. 

“These grants piloted an online database and web mapping application, initiating practices of our immersive learning concepts,” King said. “Our project is at a point where we are ready to extend it beyond the initial development and testing phase. Our funding request is to meet needs to expand and fully implement the project.”

King said the funding will be used in various ways, such as to conduct workshops (virtual or in-person) with external experts; consult with local experts, knowledge bearers and community leaders in person or online; hire a student research assistant for the full year and allow for King and McIntosh’s summer pay to work on the project; cover class excursion or recording costs to visit, document and photograph featured sites and places; host their online database and web map; and purchase a 360-degree camera for use by students and faculty researchers to document historical sites.

The Mapping Tahlequah History Project is organized into three phases. The initial phase, Project Initiation, focuses on organizing and tasks needed to implement the project. This phase will run from February to April. The second and longest phase, Project Implementation, includes elements such as developing teaching and training material, workshops, implementation of immersive learning strategies and populating the database. The timeline for this phase is May 2021 to Dec. 2023. Project Review, the final phase, focuses on project evaluation and dissemination and will take place from Dec. 2023 to Jan. 2024.
The Mapping Tahlequah History Project brings together NSU scholars of humanities in geography, history, linguistics and Cherokee and Indigenous studies to sustain an engaging curriculum and immersive and service-oriented learning that upholds the interconnectedness of higher education and regional relationships.

King is on the faculty of the NSU Department of History and an affiliate of the Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Department. She is the founding director of the NSU Center for Indigenous Community Engagement.
McIntosh is a faculty member of the department of Geography and Political Science with expertise in geographic information systems.

Other project personnel with different roles such as advisors and consultants include Dr. Justin McBride and Dr. Jeffrey Maloney from NSU’s Department of Languages and Literature; Dr. Tiffanie Hardbarger from NSU’s department of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies; Beth Herrington, local historian and board member of the City of Tahlequah Historical Preservation; Ernestine Berry, Executive Director of the United Keetoowah Band John Hair Cultural Center and Museum; Tonia Weavel, Education Director of the Cherokee Heritage Center; Jennifer Frazee, historical interpreter at Hunter’s Home Historic Site in Park Hill; Lisa Rutherford, historical interpreter for the Oklahoma Historical Society at Hunter’s Home.