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Paige McClure is a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill and member of The Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma who grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. Before coming to Carolina, she attended the University of Northern Iowa as an undergrad where she majored in History and minored in Public History. Now at Carolina, Paige is pursuing their Ph.D. in American Studies with special interest in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Paige previously worked on the digital photo archive that is based out of the University of Iowa. This work inspired her to focus on Native history of the 20th century in regard to influences of Cold War. They were furthermore inspired by a class entitled, “Historiography in American Imperialism” and envisioned themself thriving in that academic space. In her current program of study, Paige hopes to have more Indigenous stewardship in digital archives and photographs. She often ponders what that kind of stewardship could look like juxtaposed with the rise of technology and how images shape our imagination of what Indigenous people look and live like.

Paige one day wants to create archives specifically for Native communities that have tribal museums, perhaps as a museum curator. They’re interested in how traditional, Native knowledge can be incorporated into the content of the archives. Paige recognizes that barriers to that success exist and often wonder how issues with Native knowledge being incorporated will intersect with U.S. copyright laws, and how it may affect digitalization in the final product. She hopes to work with these issues so Native people will have these archives readily available to them.

Paige believes that the presence of digital archives can benefit Native communities tremendously. It can help reconnect Natives with their own history as well as to educate non-Natives about Native Nations. Perhaps they can be utilized in k-12 classrooms settings, making history more accessible. Paige feels that, what an individual can access can lead to many self-discoveries and that way of knowing is really important. Paige can personally identify with the struggle of self-identity growing up as a Native person who wasn’t in proximity to the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma or their community. They expressed concerns about it being hard to identify with the Seminole Nation because they only sparsely knew their history and language until getting to college. Paige expressed that digital archives have helped them “reconnect” and said this is the very reason why it’s important for digital archives to exist. Additionally, they are interested in making a digital language resource.

Paige expressed that the American Indian Center (AIC) was a big push for them to start a graduate program at Carolina. When researching Carolina, they mentioned there was more support and institutional representation for Native students on this campus than others that she saw, which was a big motivator for them to choose Carolina. The AIC and First Nations Graduate Circle (FNGC) welcomed Paige with warm arms and were very enthusiastic about her admission into Carolina. She shared, I have enjoyed the people so far they have been kind and encouraging. It’s a new experience! Since I’ve left the Midwest, I didn’t feel like an outsider since everyone is so welcoming and kind.

Authors: Jalyn Oxendine & Qua Adkins


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