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A photo of Bari Talley, a member of the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) Advisory Board.
Bari Talley is a member of the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) Advisory Board. Image courtesy of Bari Talley.

CCDI Advisory Board Member Spotlight: Bari Talley

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The Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI) Advisory Board advises CCDI staff on program administration, supports initiative outreach activities, and helps the Library imagine ways that it can deepen connections with Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color. Its members include nine professionals ranging from senior scholars to leading librarians, archivists, and early-career professionals in Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

Bari Talley serves as the tribal library coordinator for the Karuk Tribe, including the Sípnuuk (storage basket) digital repository.

In this interview post, Bari highlights the important role technology plays in connecting rural Native communities, talks about her work on a K-12 curriculum that centers Karuk tribal knowledge, and shares her experiences collaborating with others inside and outside of her tribe.

What made you want to get involved with the CCDI Advisory Board?

Digital connection in rural communities, especially with high populations of Native people, helps bridge the wide gaps in income, distance to service areas, education levels and family obligations.  Many people in our communities, challenged by lack of elder and child care services, can be supported online.

What can you share with us about your work with the Karuk Tribe’s Sípnuuk Digital Library, Archives, and Museum?  What has been most meaningful for you? What are some of the challenges?

The Karuk K-12 Curriculum project has been a rewarding project to work on.  Nanu’ávaha (Our Food) curriculum was developed by many to collect, present, and perpetuate tribal knowledge to and for the next generations.  The culturally relevant curriculum balances traditional ecological knowledge with western science.  It highlights our oral traditions and builds student esteem.  Getting students involved with cultural revitalization and environment justice has not only been deeply meaningful to me, but has offered my community moments of healing.

In your work, you’ve forged connections between libraries and teachers. How did you approach the work of creating curricula for Karuk materials?

I worked with my sister, Lisa Morehead-Hillman, who has a passion and background in education, as well as on a foundation built by other educators.  Initially, our presentations to Tribal Council, School Site Council and Indian Education Parent Meeting on possible lessons were met with enthusiasm and ideas from these sources have continued to guide us in building our increasingly comprehensive Native curriculum.  Each of our lessons are vetted through the Tribal Council before publication.  Although we do beta test lessons at our local schools prior to finalization.

What are the top priorities for you when it comes to library collections and services, particularly in a digital context?

Access and searchability is a priority.  Acting as the repository for Karuk history, culture and language, the Karuk digital and analog libraries addresses the needs of our patrons who are seeking cultural knowledge and connection.

Some of our upcoming project priorities  include Community collections due to wildfires, flooding, and earthslides; Klamath Dam Removal documentation; Karuk Curriculum; Climate Change; and ArcGIS storymapping.

In your work, you’ve collaborated with a variety of tribal and non-tribal groups, such as government agencies and museums. What do you think has been crucial for making these partnerships successful?

Luckily, the initial seed money to build our digital repository extended over a period of four years, enabling us to delve deep into the intricacies of intellectual property rights and the pitfalls in repatriating even digital representations of our material culture. We reached out to a number of people, organizations and institutions that could help us navigate our own path, and in doing so, built an incredibly supportive web of stakeholders and like-minded advocates for Tribal sovereignty.

Do you think technology can change the game for building relationships with audiences or expanding access to cultural heritage materials?

Technology has changed the game, providing access to cultural heritage materials from the comfort of our homes, libraries, and schools.  Social media allows people, like basketweavers and dressmakers, to access others interested in learning and supporting each other.  Learning Karuk language is made possible in different Washington DC; Pennsylvaniaformats using technology, from digital games to online classes.

CCDI is part of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path program with support from the Mellon Foundation. This four-year program provides financial and technical support to individuals, institutions and organizations to create imaginative projects using the Library’s digital collections and centering one or more of the following groups: Black, Indigenous, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other communities of color from any of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and its territories and commonwealths (Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands). Learn more about CCDI here.

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