Preserving Native American heritage for a digital age

November 29th, 2022

November 29, 2022 mins
Preserving Native American Heritage For A Digital Age

Iron Mountain’s Living Legacy Initiative partners with organizations to uncover and remember the stories that shape our shared history. In recognition of the Indigenous history of our nation, Iron Mountain supported three projects that help preserve Native American heritage and make it accessible to the public.

The Tulalip Tribes share a painful history

“Between Two Worlds,” a traveling exhibit currently in development at the Hibulb Cultural Center, will describe the conditions and isolation faced by boarding school students at the Tulalip Indian School, located on the Tulalip Reservation in northern Washington from 1857 to 1932. The school was part of what is now a little-known government project called the Native American Boarding School program.

The federal government established the boarding schools to assimilate Indigenous children into non-Native society. As part of this process, students were separated from their families and were forbidden to speak their native language or to practice their religion and traditions.

Though the Boarding School Era represents a devastating chapter in our nation’s history, Tulalip community leaders want future generations in our nation to know about the struggles that occurred and how it continues to affect Native Americans today. “Between Two Worlds” will be loaned to schools and other educational institutions beginning in 2023.

The Yurok Tribe reclaims a hallowed ground

Iron Mountain and CyArk are long-time partners in the digital preservation of important cultural and historical sites. CyArk, an international nonprofit, uses the latest technology to create interactive 3D tours. These tours, called Tapestry Tours, are a 3D high-resolution version of the location allowing virtual visitors to explore every nook and cranny of the site.

Recently, CyArk completed a virtual Tapestry tour of Sue-meg State Park in Northern California, which was recently renamed after the tribal and public outcry on the inappropriateness of the original park name.

Climate change has an impact on our cultural heritage

Iron Mountain’s Living Legacy Initiative’s 2023-24 funding cycle will focus on preserving cultural heritage that is being impacted by climate change.

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park is the largest Indigenous cliff dwelling in North America and it is under threat of increased wildfires due to climate change. Cliff Palace is an exceptionally large dwelling which may have had special significance to the original occupants and over 26 Tribes have affiliations to the site. It is thought that Cliff Palace was a social, administrative site with high ceremonial usage.

Between 1996 and 2003, five large wildfires burned over 50% of the park’s acreage. Localized effects at Cliff Palace included: a complete loss, or substantial damage to stone, wood, mortar, and plastered/painted surfaces; compromised foundations; damaged architectural features; relatively small to severe wall cracks; and partially collapsed walls.

Iron Mountain is partnering with CyArk to create an interactive 3D tour of the cliff dwellings, including petroglyphs and pictographs that are in danger of being lost to the damage caused by increased wildfires.

Tracing the arc of American history

The sharing of the Tulalip Tribes’ boarding school stories and the 3D tour of Sue-meg State Park’s Yurok village are the final components of Iron Mountain’s Living Legacy Initiative’s Journey to Equal Rights collection. Through this work, our Living Legacy Initiative partnered with many other nonprofit organizations including CyArk to bring equal rights to the forefront of our community support. CyArk’s series also features 3D tours of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, California; the Stonewall National Monument in New York City; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.

Iron Mountain is proud to sponsor CyArk and other organizations that are bringing these overlooked yet critical people, places, and events of American history to a larger audience.

"We're committed to sharing the history of the people and places that are part of our nation," says Charlene Jackson, Iron Mountain's Chief Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

These projects represent the many ways we use our expertise to serve the communities and the world we live in. To find out more about our other programs, please visit the Corporate Responsibility page.

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