2022 Election: Candidate Statements

Thank you to all of our excellent candidates for standing in the 2022 Native American Archives Section election. Please take some time to review their candidate statements and get to know them so you can make an informed choice.

You will be voting for:

  • One Vice Chair/Chair-Elect, for a two-year term; and
  • Three Steering Committee members (two-year terms). 

Ballots will be managed by SAA staff through Survey Monkey; keep an eye on your inbox for when the ballot opens! 

Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Candidates

The following candidate is running for the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect position:

Melissa Stoner
Native American Studies Librarian - Ethnic Studies Library

Biographical Information:

Melissa Stoner (Diné) is the Native American Studies Librarian at the University of California, Berkeley.  Previously, she worked in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Library Digital Collections Department as Project Manager for the National Endowment for the Humanities funded National Digital Newspaper Program for the state of Nevada.  Melissa also worked as Digital Projects Librarian for Nevada State College on an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to digitize oral histories.  Melissa graduated from San Jose State University with a Masters of Library and Information Science, with a focus on emerging technologies which led to her main focus, the digitization practices of historical and ethnographic materials that contain culturally sensitive information and/or restricted tribal knowledge. 

Candidate Statement:

Yá'át'ééh Shí éí Melissa Stoner yinishyé, Diné asdzáán nishłį́ I am the Native American Studies Librarian at the Ethnic Studies Library at UC Berkeley.

I would like to nominate myself for SAA - NAAS Vice-Chair.

As Native American Studies Librarian, I have served on these committees and teams working to improve the ethical use of Native American special collections holdings.  

* co-chair: "The Native American Collections in Archives, Libraries, and Museums" Working Group. https://vcresearch.berkeley.edu/nagpra/native-american-collections
* member: UC Berkeley, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) committee 
* member:  Society of American Archivists - Native American Archives Section
* consultant for UC Berkeley summer institutes:  "Breath of Life" Native American language revitalization program and  "Native American Museums Study Institute"

In 2016, I was an ALA Emerging Leader, sponsored by the Library Information Technology Association (LITA). Later I chaired  the LITA Diversity Committee. In 2019, I was selected to represent all Emerging Leaders on the ALA search committee for a new Executive Director. 

Steering Committee Member Candidates

The following candidates are running for the section steering committee:

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Vina Begay, MLIS, MBA
Assistant Librarian, Arizona State University

Biographical Information:

Vina Begay is a member from the Dine Nation and is the Assistant Librarian for Arizona State University (ASU). Her position has numerous responsibilities, but not limited, to the acquisition, processing, care, and management of Indigenous Archival Materials, additionally, her responsibilities is to review, develop, and ensure the Protocols are applied to ASU’s entire archival workflow and library circulated materials. Aside from her archival collection responsibilities, Vina works with numerous tribal communities in collaboration with ASU’s Community Driven Archives department in assisting and providing professional archival training. Before her employment with ASU, she has served as a Tribal Archive Consultant for several tribal communities, by providing professional archival training and help establish cultural archives tailored to the Tribe’s cultural practices, community, and governance structure. She has also served as a Tribal Liaison for many Universities and cultural institutions. Vina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Master in Business Administration, and a Master in Library Science with an emphasis of Archival Studies and Digital Information Management.

Candidate Statement:

As an Indigenous person raised with Dine traditional cultural practices and beliefs, these Protocols hold a huge place in my heart. Before I become an Archivist/Librarian, I have seen the mismanagement of our Indigenous cultural information in both archival and library materials, which driven me to pursue an MLIS in archives and digital archives, to help change how our Traditional Knowledge should be managed, even repatriated back to tribal communities. I have dedicated my career in providing professional archival training to tribal communities, in addition, provide tribal cultural competencies to Professional Archivists employed in westernized institutions, including how to adapt the Protocols in their institutions. I am happy the Society of American Archivist endorsed the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials in allowing Indigenous Communities' voices to be heard in the proper care and management of the unethical historical documentation from the past. As a steering committee, I intend to continue bringing awareness to PNAAM across SAA members and institutions, also communicate with tribal communities by directing them to NAAS as another archival resources to support their Tribal Archive needs and mission. Additionally, promote and communicate NAAS in effort to recruit and mentor high school and undergraduate students from tribal communities as future archivists. I also intend to continue working and communicating with my archivist colleagues, current and upcoming, in support and provide guidance of PNAAM.

Alexandria Gough
Archivist at the Choctaw Cultural Center 

Biographical Information:

I am the archivist at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Cultural Center located in Durant, Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is the third largest Native Nation in the United States and is committed to preserving tribal history and culture. The Choctaw Cultural Center is nearly 100,000 square foot facility that opened on July 23rd, 2021. As part of the Collections Department I work with donors, process foundational collections, and work with tribal members and the public to assist with their research needs.

I received my doctorate in History, with an emphasis in Native American History from the University of Oklahoma. I am currently working on a book project about tribal sovereignty throughout the history of the Osage Nation from 1860 to the 1930s. Throughout my career I have worked in multiple archives, both public and privately owned, including the University of Arkansas Special Collections and the University of Oklahoma’s Western History Collections. I am a member of the SAA and I plan to take the Certified Archivist exam in 2023.

Candidate Statement:

As a part of the Native American Archives Section leadership team, I would like to work towards crafting a more overt partnership with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. I am a member of ATALM and have attended many virtual events (due to COVID, I have not yet been to the annual meeting, but plan to attend this fall) and I have noticed they do not bring up the SAA very much, if at all, during their meetings. I’m not sure why that is because they frequently discuss their partnerships with IMLS. I think it is important to build this relationship so tribal entities know they can access resources and trainings from a variety of sources, including the SAA.

I would also like to work on strategies to encourage Native youth to consider careers as archivists. I currently work with the Choctaw Nation and I find that many tribal members are unsure what an archivist does. I frequently have to explain what I do and often the only explanation that makes sense, especially to elders, is that I do similar tasks as a librarian. Advocating for Native youth to consider archives as a career would do wonders in maintaining cultural knowledge, supporting tribal sovereignty all while diversifying the field, which is desperately needed.

Caitlinn Grimm
Library paraprofessional for Special Collections, Utah Tech University

Biographical Information:

Caitlinn Grimm, Library Paraprofessional for Special Collections, acknowledges her standpoint as a master’s educated white middle-class cis-gender female settler from the Midwest United States working in Utah Tech University’s Special Collections & Archives.

She completed her M.L.I.S. from San Jose State University in 2019, focusing on archives and intercultural service, hoping to promote, preserve, and provide access to underrepresented voices in history and the present for future generations. She also has a B.A. in anthropology and communications with linguistics. Currently, she focuses on making a large oral history collection available through digitization, transcription, and cataloging, as well as updating the SC&A’s authority control to be consistent and more inclusive. She is always interested in learning more about archiving, digital curation, historic and cultural preservation, oral history, linguistic anthropology, and language preservation/revitalization efforts.

Candidate Statement:

Caitlinn Grimm supports NAAS’s continued efforts to decolonize archives and reconcile research by providing access to continuing education in both archival theory and cultural humility practices for people working with Indigenous archives. She wants NAAS to develop methods to make adhering to cultural protocols affordable, scalable, sustainable, and easily implementable to create cultural property and traditional knowledge descriptions. A first step is helping institutions start the conversations needed to build relationships with originating communities, which allows for greater collaboration and access. Exploring community-driven language and cultural revitalization efforts outside of traditional memory institutions may lead to new ways records are used and preserved.

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River Freemont
Student Archives Assistant, Oregon Health & Science University

Biographical Information:

River Freemont (they/them/theirs) is an MLS student concentrating in archives studies. They are Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Umonhon (Omaha). River graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a minor in indigenous nations studies in 2012.

River has worked as an Archives Assistant at Oregon Health & Science University since August of 2021. During their graduate studies, River has been honored with the ALA Spectrum scholarship, and with a summer internship at the Smithsonian Institute Libraries and Archives. This spring, River presented on a panel for the NW Archivists Conference which addressed resources needed to support implementation of the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. They were also elected Outreach and Media Coordinator of the Native American Collections Roundtable of NW Archivists at the same meeting. River’s other professional involvements include serving as secretary of the Students and New Archives Professionals section of SAA (ending this summer), as well as on the Climate Readiness Task Force and the Controlled Vocabulary Editorial Group of RBMS.

Candidate Statement:

During my MLS, I have dedicated myself to learning about Indigenous issues in archives, including repatriation, collaboration, description, and other areas outlined in the Protocols. The NAAS case studies, toolkit, webinar series, and example documents were instrumental in this exploration. As I developed a familiarity with these resources, I also noticed areas where they could be expanded and updated. As a member of the NAAS steering committee, I would make an informed and knowledgeable contributor to the toolkit. I am also enthusiastic about making connections with colleagues and potential collaborators, as I hope to work with Native American archival materials and Native communities in my future career. I am especially interested in developing trauma-informed archival practices, all things metadata and description, and enhancing digital accessibility.