Preserving Karuk Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Sípnuuk Digital Library

Lisa Hillman sharing maps and other objects at our first digitization workshop in 2014

Lisa Hillman sharing maps and other objects at our first digitization workshop in 2014

The Karuk people are among the last indigenous groups in California to suffer the consequences of Euro-American contact. Living in the remote rugged north-western region of the state, the Karuk or “upriver” people benefited from a resource-rich ecosystem dominated by salmon, eel, elk, deer, and acorns. Karuk people managed resources effectively, and the resulting abundance allowed development of a beautiful language and highly developed artistic culture and ceremonial practices. As a result of genocide, policies, legislation, and outright deceit, the vast majority of Karuk Ancestral Territory, once spanning over one million acres, are now held in either private or federal ownership.

The Karuk Department of Natural Resources’ (KDNR) led Sípnuuk Digital Archives, Library and Museum (Sípnuuk) was initiated and is partially funded through a 5-year USDA Food Security Grant. The Karuk Tribe and UC Berkeley are working together to build this resource for researchers, tribal departments, and local communities to enhance understanding of regional food security issues, identify solutions and to document and provide access to knowledge of traditional foods and materials.

Thanks to funding from various sponsors, such as the Karuk TANF and an IMLS grant, CoDA has supported the ongoing development of Sípnuuk, which is the Karuk word for storagebasket. Since 2014, CoDA has led a series of 4-Day onsite immersive workshops, the publication of a comprehensive Sípnuuk digitization resource, and provided skilled support for the portal.

Project Team

Karuk Team

  • Lisa Hillman, Food Security Project Coordinator
  • Adrienne Harling, Sípnuuk Division Coordinator
  • Angela McLaughlin, Sípnuuk Digital Librarian
  • Bari Talley, Peoples Center Director
  • Leaf Hillman, Department of Natural Resources Director

CoDA Team

  • Michael Ashley, Director of Technology
  • Kelley Shanahan, UX Design and Mukurtu Training
  • Ruth Tringham, Digital Storytelling Expert
 

Sponsors

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Security Grant
TANF, Digital Training Series

Advisors

  • Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Berkeley
  • Lisa Hillman, Karuk Department of Natural Resources

Sípnuuk Advisory Committee: Shawn Borque, Ashley Allgier, Bill Tripp, Florrine Super, Frank Lake, Grant Gilkison, Josh Saxon, Laverne Glaze, Lillian Rentz, Janet Morehead, Sibyl Diver, Travis King, Alan Merrill, Alex Watts-Tobin

Partners

  • UC Berkeley, UC Cooperative Extension
  • Yurok Tribe
  • UC Davis
  • Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources
  • Mid Klamath Watershed Council
  • United States Forest Service
  • Klamath Tribes

Sípnuuk is an online digital resource for Karuk Tribal members, local residents, and the public which reflects and augments all Karuk Tribal Library collections of Karuk history, language, traditions, knowledge and living culture. Sípnuuk helps support the mission of the Karuk People’s Center:

 
The Karuk Tribe is exhilarated by these opportunities and has developed a level of trust with CoDA hitherto unrivaled with any other partnering agencies.
— Lisa Hillman Food Security Project Coordinator, Karuk Department of Natural Resources

The strategy that the Sípnuuk digital librarians and CoDA have deployed for the Karuk cultural collections results in a very large number of relevant documents for the Karuk culture that have been harmonized into a single resource for the community memory, for international scholarship, curriculum, research and public use and enjoyment. To ensure the best digitization and web curation of these important cultural media, the Sípnuuk digital librarians have adopted a born-archival digitization workflow, created together with CoDA, which integrates international data methods and standards, including the Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials and the DCC digital curation lifecycle guidelines.

The ever expanding resources and collections of Sípnuuk serve people of all ages, including tribal members, tribal employees, community members, members of the Karuk­ Berkeley Collaborative, government employees, non­profit employees, food justice activists, and the general public. However, access to Sípnuuk contents is based on Karuk ­defined cultural protocols. This includes tribally sanctioned information for the general public and scholarly researchers.

629+

DIGITAL HERITAGE ITEMS IN THE AFRI FOOD SECURITY COLLECTION (AND GROWING!)

24+

PARTICIPANTS TRAINED IN DIGITIZATION AND PRESERVATION SKILLS

2

PART-TIME POSITIONS CREATED FOR TRIBAL AND LOCAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS

Many

NEW PROJECTS AND PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE KDNR WITH HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS AND TK PROJECTS NATION-WIDE

 

Sípnuuk is accessible online at sipnuuk.mukurtu.net. Sensitive cultural information is accessible to defined user groups outlined in the Sípnuuk Cultural Information Policy. Users may register by clicking the ‘login’ button on any page and sending a registration request. All requests are cleared by the Sípnuuk Advisory Committee.