April 12, 2022
GC hosts Engaging Community Conversations
College unveiled special collections room for Indigenous Peoples of Garrett County
On Thursday, the Garrett College Library hosted two active discussion sessions, one for College members and students, and one for community members, as part of the Engaging Community Conversations event featuring the Indigenous peoples of Garrett County.
Dr. Ryan Harrod, GC's dean of academic affairs, kicked off the event with a detailed presentation on the history of the first people in the Americas, highlighting how Indigenous peoples among the Shawnee and Seneca tribes in the Garrett County area can be dated back to 10,000 years ago.
Harrod: GC's dean of academics Ryan Harrod presenting on the history of the first people in the Americas, highlighting how Indigenous peoples among the Shawnee and Seneca tribes in the Garrett County area can be dated back to 10,000 years ago. Harrod also serves as co-chair for the Native American Liaison Committee.
Harrod, who also serves as co-chair for the Native American Liaison Committee and has a background in biological anthropology, discussed the profound impact of colonialism on human culture, language groups, and migration patterns among Indigenous populations as most of the Shawnee tribes originating from this area now reside in Oklahoma.
"The goal of this event was to start a conversation between the college and the community about how we can work to not only acknowledge the Indigenous people from Garrett County, but to include the voices of the descendants," noted Harrod. "As part of this effort I have reached out to the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, Seneca tribe in New York, and the Shawnee tribes in Oklahoma."
Harrod has also initiated a collaborative relationship with the Native American Studies program at nearby West Virginia University.
"I appreciated Dr. Harrod's thorough and experiential research and delivery of his findings," remarked Friendsville resident Kim Alexander, who attended the community session. "I'm excited to see how his relationships with various tribes will inform Garrett County."
Stephanie Miller, GC's technical services librarian, facilitated both discussion groups, guiding the many conversations among those in attendance.
"The questions and discussions developed from this event generated some wonderful ideas that could assist Garrett College in working with the community to effectively support indigenous peoples," said Miller. "Inviting indigenous speakers to the college, encouraging Garrett County students to correspond with indigenous students across the county, and continuing with events and conversations such as this one were all suggested."
Many participants shared their own personal connections and interests in attending Thursday's event.
Friendsville resident Rich 'Woody' Woodward previously spent some time living in Colorado doing his own research and studying of native Americans.
"I want to learn more about the Indigenous people that lived in Garrett County and leave a legacy – I feel inspired to give land back to the natives," stated Woodward, who owns 10 acres of land in Friendsville and participated in the college session. "I even took some native language classes while I was in Colorado, trying to learn as much as I could."
Oakland resident Gloria Salazar agrees that Thursday's topic of conversation is vital to the Garrett County community.
"This is a topic that is very dear to my heart," said Salazar, who attended the community session. "Garrett College's event presented a wealth of information, which was way more than I anticipated. This is vital information for our community."
Participants agree there is room for improvement in sharing information and providing educational opportunities about the history of Indigenous peoples in Garrett County - especially among the younger generations - and feel the College can be a pioneer in leading those efforts.
"This is an exciting time to be in Garrett County. There's some deep work going on right now," added Judy Carbone, who also attended the community session and resides in Swanton. "There's so much history that's being delved into and it's happening all at once."
Carbone cited the women's suffrage history with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Garrett County chapter and the African American populations with the AME church and Mountain Lake Park.
"Let's just be open to new things," Carbone remarked, "and learn from our history, for our future."
Special Collections Room: As a recipient of the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), the Garrett College library was able to create a new special collections room featuring Indigenous peoples of Garrett County. Pictured are GC's technical services librarian Stephanie Miller (left) and director of the library and learning commons Jenny Meslener.
Jenny Meslener, GC's director of the library and learning commons, shared with the group that Thursday's event served as a springboard for future conversations to take place.
"Engaging community conversations was the first step in some new exciting initiatives to support diverse populations at Garrett College," said Meslener.
Meslener shared that the College is already in the process of preparing and planning for future endeavors to support the Indigenous peoples of Garrett County.
"By working holistically with outside groups and organizations, we hope to bring a greater awareness of Indigenous populations to all members of the Garrett County community," noted Meslener.
As a recipient of the Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) in collaboration with the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL), the Garrett College library was able to create a new special collections room featuring Indigenous peoples of Garrett County.
Thursday's participants were able to get a first look at the new collections room, housed within the library. The collections room is open during regular library hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Members of the community are welcome and encouraged to stop by, with all materials in the room available for checkout.
The library has also created a LibGuide on Indigenous peoples in Garrett County and the surrounding area, which serves as a digital and virtual resource for anyone wishing to find out more information.
Harrod added, "It is my hope, as the Chief Academic Officer of Garrett College, that the work Director Meslener has initiated will create a campus that increases awareness of Indigenous history in the county and makes the information accessible to Indigenous communities nationwide."
For more information on the GC's library's special collections room of Indigenous peoples in Garrett County, or available resources at the library, contact the GC library at 301-387-3009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.