History of Project
Through this project, I combine my interests in qualitative research methods with community-based participatory research framework. My work with staff members at the Cass Lake Hospital reflects my intentions to perform research that can add to scholarly understanding of the Ojibwe indigenous knowledge systems and serve practical applications in the reservation.
Roots of Collaboration
The project formed out of discussions in Dr. Timothy Powell’s Introduction to Native American Literature course in the spring semester of 2009. The class explored the potential relationships between digital repatriation and cultural revitalization for American indigenous communities. Because of my interests in community health, I applied for research grants to explore traditional and western medicine at the Leech Lake Ojibwe reservation. I wanted to use digital technology as a tool that enhances content analysis in my research and as a product that changes the way health research is presented.
In the process of building partnerships with the local hospital, I became aware that the proposed case study aligned with Norine Smith’s goals of establishing traditional medicine services at the Cass Lake Hospital. To improve the quality of services, Ms. Smith was also interested in creating a hospitable space in which traditional medicine would be respected. Sponsored by research grants, I traveled to the Leech Lake Ojibwe reservation and conducted two in-depth interviews with Ms. Smith and Dr. Meness. Given the depth of the interviews, I was guided to examine these stories through the Ojibwe indigenous knowledge system.
The current exploratory research has significant implications for future collaborative work with Cass Lake Hospital. Discussions are currently under way to develop a cultural competence curriculum for medical professionals. I will return to the reservation in March of 2010 to conduct additional interviews with hospital staff members and Larry Aitken, tribal historian and traditional healer at Leech Lake.