The Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Library and Archives Receives Community-Based Archives Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
13 January 2021
The grant will aid in the creation of a digital archive and Oral History Research Station
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma - The Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Library and Archives was awarded $100,000 for the oral history project titled, “A Twenty-First-Century Pandemic in Indian Country: The Resilience of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Against COVID-19,” by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The project will include forty oral history interviews from Muscogee citizens and community members concerning their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will also aid in the purchase of oral history recording equipment and supplies, the creation of a digital archive and Oral History Research Station, located in the MCN National Library and Archives, and the creation of a library website.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a long-standing American non-profit organization that, through its various grant-making programs, provides funding to arts, humanities, and higher learning organizations. Out of 165 eligible applications submitted to the Foundation for community-based archives funding, the MCN National Library and Archives and fifteen other archives were selected for the award to complete the two-year project.
“To be recognized by the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and awarded this grant to support our community-based archive is amazing. I am so excited for the citizens of the Muscogee Nation,” MCN Oral Historian Midge Dellinger said. “The practice of oral history is a fantastic way to retain our ancestral memories and knowledge, including the life experiences and stories of Muscogee peoples. This funding will help further develop the MCN Oral History Program and the re-institution of oral history projects in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.”
“While the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to the entire world, the purpose of the COVID-19 project is to hear the first-hand COVID stories and experiences of Muscogee peoples. This project will create for today’s Muscogee people and future generations of Muscogee, a critical historical record revealing how the Muscogee of 2020, and now 2021, have experienced and suffered, but yet as a nation, continue to survive a pandemic of epic proportions. And, with the creation and implementation of a digitized archival system, these oral histories, as well as others, will be made available in perpetuity to Muscogee citizens.”
Narrators for this project will include Mvskoke leadership, healthcare workers, business owners, elders, MCN employees, at-large citizens, students, and youth (under 18). Essential to this project will be the knowledge disclosed concerning the numerous ways in which the MCN has responded to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how the virus has affected MCN citizens and our tribal community. This project will document how the Tribe continues to develop a new “normal” for their existence and the ongoing struggle to cope with an infectious disease outbreak.
“MCN has suffered through several diseases since European contact in the 1500s, but how MCN overcame and survived these pandemics has not been well documented in the historical record,” MCN Historic and Cultural Preservation Department Manager RaeLynn Butler said. “Today, we have an opportunity to capture and document these first-hand accounts directly from the MCN community. Such accounts and stories will be placed in the archives and will be an invaluable resource for future generations. We are excited to get started.”