Two Native American students are getting in touch with their heritage by serving as interns this summer at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Sequoyah National Research Center.
Kevin Briceland, a doctoral student studying American history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and Courtney Peyketewa, a graduate student studying adult higher education at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, have been selected for the center’s Native American Student Internship Program.
The goal of the program is to provide students an experiential learning environment in which to acquire an understanding of the value of archives and the research potential of the collections of the Center and to engage in academic research and practical archival activities related to tribal culture, society, and issues.
The interns work 25 hours a week from June 4 to July 27 and receive on-campus housing and a $2,000 stipend. Interns are expected to demonstrate the value of their experience by either a summary report of work, finding aids for collections, or reports of research or other written work that may be shared with their home institutions.
Peyketewa, a member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, is working on the center’s World War I project with SNRC Director Dr. Daniel Littlefield and Archivist Erin Fehr.
“We are working on modern warriors of World War I,” she said. “The United States World War I Centennial Commissionhas asked the center to help identify the 12,000 American Indian servicemen who served in World War I. We are collecting names, their enlistment records, and any medals or honors they have received. In honor of the centennial, we wanted to honor those who served and recognize them for their service.”
The center will also create a website where the public will be able to access the records.
“It is very interesting. I am learning stuff every day that I didn’t learn about before,” Peyketewa said. “Currently, I am contacting all the tribes to ask them if they have any information or memorials on their tribe members who are WWI veterans to be able to obtain that information.”
After Peyketewa earns her Master of Education, the 27-year-old Oklahoma City native plans to work in student affairs at a university. She also hopes to learn more about her family history while working at the center.
“It was awesome to be selected for this opportunity. I feel like I am filling in information for people, and that it is a way of giving back,” she said. “I plan to learn about my family heritage by talking to Dr. Littlefield. He tells me tidbits of information. I also hope to be able to trace my family tree and learn more about my family.”
Briceland, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is processing the manuscript collection of SNRC Director Littlefield. He said working at the archives will help prepare him for his dissertation research.
“As an historian in training, it will help me to have a working knowledge of an archive,” Briceland said. “I plan to do a lot of my dissertation research here, so this is a good introduction. I like that I am getting two months of complete access to the materials I know I am going to use down the road.”
Briceland is planning to write his dissertation on race and policy in Indian Territory from the post-Civil War era through the 1920s.
“I think it is a very interesting period of time that often gets overlooked,” he said. “In Indian Territory, you have a lot of different ethnic groups coming together in a complex way. Plus, I grew up there. The people have demonstrated a resiliency and adaptability to change that is important to understand. Being a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma gives you an outlet to connect with the history and culture.”
For more information about the Sequoyah National Research Center, contact Erin Fehr at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-569-8336.
In the upper right photo, the Sequoyah National Research Center has selected four students for its 2018 Native American Student Internship Program. The interns (L to R) include Kevin Briceland, from Southern Methodist University, Courtney Peyketewa, from Oklahoma Central University, Heidi Davis, and Stephanie Rabadeux, both from UA Little Rock. Photo by Ben Krain/UA Little Rock Communications.