Public Policy and Indigenous Identity

Project: 39
Name: Judith Storniolo (; 646-309-3821)
Department: Culture and Communication
Academic Area: Anthropology

Title: Public Policy and Indigenous Identity

Purpose and Description: The summer internship will provide the intern with a background in public policy as it applies to Native Americans. The student will focus on two distinct policies regarding Native Americans, one initiated in the eighteenth century that continued into the twentieth century by Moravian missionaries who established Indian Schools, and one initiated with the passing of NAGPRA, the Native American Grave Protection Repatriation Act, passed by Congress on November 16, 1990 [H.R.5237]. / The public documents for Indian schools in Eastern Pennsylvania will be a primary focus of this summer’s research. The experience of many members of the Lenape nation, including Chief Robert Red Hawk Ruth, will also put a private face on the public policies of church and state toward Indian identity and culture. That means that during the course of the summer the student researcher will rotate between direct communication with the Lenape people of the Delaware Valley and archival research among the Indian school records still available in this area. Lenape people today are in search of relatives that were forcibly removed to Oklahoma. This project will help to identify some individuals through the Indian school records, some of which are not yet available online. This process will require time spent in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology Library and in the American section. The ultimate purpose behind this research is to show the interconnectedness of public policy and human experience. / The repatriation of tribal artifacts and remains with respect to NAGPRA is an evolving and complex process. The legislation and the policies that it represents have been documented and researched from a processual approach. Anthropology provides a more qualitative and insightful examination by including the human face of Indian culture and the repercussions of the law on individuals and tribes. We are at a critical juncture with respect to NAGPRA claims, but there is a need to develop more expedient and efficient practices in response to an emerging critical mass of tribal awareness. This research will allow the student to make a unique contribution in this area from a much-needed anthropological perspective. These projects involve anthropological field and library research the result of which represents a novel contribution to anthropological studies and an interface with indigenous peoples.

Associated Independent Study:
There are so many opportunities for independent study, specifically because of the enthusiasm and ambition of the Lenape nation members. They are at present planning to create a traditional village on Burlington Island in the Delaware River. In addition, the stand of indigenous people of Pennsylvania on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale has just begun. The approach and method of counteracting this environmental hazard from an indigenous perspective will produce a perfect trajectory of research as an independent study.

Gained Experience:
The student will gain proficiency in dealing with ethnohistorical documents and the rich timely topic of revitalization of indigenous culture in the face of opposing public policy.

It is my hope that this cooperative research of faculty and student will result in new publishable findings that will contribute to anthropological knowledge of indigenous populations in 19th and 20th century Philadelphia and provide a service to the Lenape nation in their efforts at revitalization and writing the history of their experience in the American tapestry.

Library research, database entry, communication and interviews with leaders important indigenous initiatives.

The documentation phase of the project will be housed in my office, in the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Library, and in Easton, Pa. For any trips out of the local area we will travel together.

I would like to meet at least 5 hours a week with the student, not including any travel to other locations.

Interview Availability:
April 17