The UALR Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC) will be processing and archiving a major new collection soon, thanks to a $24,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC).
Led by SNRC Director Dr. Daniel Littlefield, the grant enables the SNRC to preserve the Jeanie Greene Alaska Native Collection, which contains 1,263 video tapes. The tapes’ current format is outdated, so the SNRC will partner with Preservation Technologies, a Pennsylvania collections preservation company, to create digital files from the tapes. After they have been digitized, they will be made available to the public.
Greene, a reporter and journalist, worked with Alaska Native people to highlight and document their culture throughout the 1990s. She donated her film archives to the SNRC in 2014. A member of the Inupiat Alaska Native people herself, Greene told the stories and struggles of her subjects with deep respect. Unlike many journalists, Greene also invited her subjects to tell their own stories, sometimes even sending them cameras and encouraging self-documentation.
The tapes include both polished television broadcast programs and raw footage. Contents range from interviews with elders to town profiles to youth programs. The archiving project will make these programs available to a new generation of Alaska Natives, a number of whom now reside in Arkansas, according to Littlefield.
“The conservation work planned in this project is a major step toward preservation of the spoken expression, performance, and other actions of Alaska Native people,” Littlefield stated in his proposal. Greene echoed Littlefield’s enthusiasm for the project, stating “I will continue to produce Alaska Native documentaries and movies as well as pursue my academic goals, knowing past programs are in safe hands.”
Once the Jeanie Greene Collection is archived, it will be the largest public collection focused on contemporary Alaska Native cultures in the continental United States.