Archival Website

Myrna Lillian Fuentes

April 16, 2016

Archival Website

There is a group of seven indigenous nations that have come to dwell in a city called Puyo in Ecuador.  They travel from the inner sections of the Amazon and settle in Puyo.  Each nation has their own language and culture, but they all cohabitate in this one city because there is a school called Amauta Ñanpi where they bring or send their children to be educated.

They choose this school because the curriculum not only includes the required academics, but also included are lessons based on the traditions and culture of these individual seven indigenous nations.  The importance of this is that these traditions have begun to disappear and the younger generations are losing this knowledge and the practice of their traditions.  Therefore, the website that I will create will be an archive of these traditions and cultural through their personal narratives.  

It will be a means for teaching and maintaining their history alive, and for this history to continue on. The website will begin with the story of the seven artifacts, one from each nation, and asking the questions of how, what, and the where of these artifacts.  Within all these questions, each artifact is a vehicle for these personal stories to be told.

Firstly, I need for the Amauta Ñanpi to set up a consulting group which would include members of the nations, educators, and students from Amauta Ñanpi during this initiating process.  Their purpose will be to guide me that I am properly telling the story correctly.  I do not want to misinterpret the narrations.  Therefore, their input will be from the very beginning of the process.

Secondly, I will share my thoughts on how I believe the website should be constructed, but will ask for the consulting group’s input.  The reasoning for this is that I want to be sure they are in agreement with the website’s structure and categories, but in manipulation of the website.  It needs to be professional in style, but it also needs to be access friendly.  The consulting group will be verifying these components to me.

Thirdly, the website is a teaching tool.  So not only will I want Amauta Ñapi’s opinion on the site, but I would also have a consulting group of educators here in the States to view the ideas of the website and confirm that the website has an ease when using it.  As an educator, verify the pedagogical usage of the website.  I would ask them to answer questions such as; can they adapt the website to their lesson plan?  Do they feel that the students will be able to manipulate the website with ease?

Once I have developed the website perhaps between fifty to sixty percent, I would consult both groups on the progress of the website.  I would also include the opinions of the students both in Ecuador and here in the States to share their opinions on the site and if they find the site engaging.  I would ask for their input and suggestions to be able to adapt them before completing the website. 

Finally, at the ninety percent point, I would go back to the Amauta Ñanpi’s consulting group and ask them to verify the honesty, genuineness, and the factual of the narratives.

All of the personal narratives based on the seven artifacts will be found in the website.  The website would be divided into the seven indigenous nations and within each section the story of the artifact would be told. 

One of the main uses for the website, but not limited to would be an educational one for educators or students to inform themselves on these indigenous nations and also for the indigenous groups themselves to learn about their own personal history.      

With respect to the website, I would build my website with Omeka.  In my investigations of websites, Omeka seems to contain all the facets that I am looking for to create this virtual archive.  Omeka will be able to handle the different media that I will be using from images to video to maps to audio clippings more easily and the outcomes are tremendous.  From examples that I have seen on their website, Omeka seems to handle complexity well.  Here is an example of an Omeka website called Florida Memory that is very complex, but very clean and professional.

There will be a map involved in my website.  The map is another tool that will supplement the stories of the artifacts.  Yes, the seven indigenous nations live in Puyo, but the story of the artifact does not.  Perhaps it traveled, from another village alongside the Pastaza River or the Corrientes River.  The map will help tell the story showing where it originated and help answer the how, the what, and which one questions of how it arrived to Puyo.  There are many purposes for the usage of the map, but the most important one is that it will help the user visualize these stories and also to provide a better understanding of the area where the stories are orientating. 

With respect to the mapping software I will use, I am down to two, Neatline or ArcGis.  What attracts me to Neatline and ArcGis, is that it is not only a static map, but I could create a map with an engaging story behind it.  When I was preparing my DH project last spring semester, I came to the realization that I could acquire the skills to create a living map and help an artifact come to life.  My fantasy of a map would be a thick map which would show the geographical, historical, and cultural aspects of the Puyo area and mapping the areas where the seven nations came from and lived.

For audio I would use Sound Cloud or Audacity because they are simple to use, but provide quality work.  I would be using audio to record the oral histories of the elders.  Another usage of audio, I could have an image on the map and an audio clipping of the person telling their story or having a folklore tale being told by one of the elders and map the different places that are mentioned in the tale.

For video, I would use You Tube or Vimeo for longer narrative segments and VoiceThread for shorter videos or a special topic video.  Here again, I could include the map to locate where the narrative is coming from and perhaps show its journey.  With respect to the video editing I would use Movie Maker since I will be working on a PC.  Before using any software, I will make sure that it will work with Omeka and the mapping software that I finally choose. 

Website:  With respect to the website, I need to practice more coding because I may need it to manipulate the website to do what I want it to do.  I have taken workshops during the past semesters, but have not actually worked on an actual coding project myself.  The website that I created before did not require coding, but I became familiar with the general steps that need to be done when creating a website.

Mapping:  I have some experience with mapping, but will be developing more hands on skills with this website.  Especially for the fact that I want to layer the maps with the different stories, I need to make sure that I am inputting the information correctly so that this information will work appropriately.

Audio:  I have only used audio software very briefly in the past.  I will need to review on how the software works properly and how to include it onto the website and map.  I also need to familiarize myself with the IRB procedures since I will be doing most of my research through interviews.   

Video:  I will have to research on how to better my interview skills with respect to the oral histories that I will be attaining.  How I need to ask the proper questions to attain better results.  In researching this area, I found a book called Folklife & Fieldwork, An Introduction to Cultural Documentation from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.  I have done informal interviews at Puyo in the past, but the above book will guide me to ask those proper questions and to document appropriately.

Movie Editor:  I have done some video editing, but this project will acquire me to do much more.  I need to go over instructions of the software.  Another aspect of film editing that I need to do, is to learn how to create subtitles.  The videos are in Spanish and I will need to create English subtitles.  I need to keep in mind that there may be an elder whom does not want to or does not speak Spanish.  I would have to have someone translate the video to Spanish and in turn, I will caption the English subtitle.

With reference to time, there are several crucial time constraints.  One is the accessing of the seven artifacts and the other is the investigation of the artifacts.  Here is where I would ask the consulting group from Amauta Ñanpi to assist me in the gathering of the artifacts.  To save time, I would ask them to have a group of artifacts prepared prior to my arrival at Puyo.  Once I am there, I would begin searching through the artifacts to decide which ones I would choose to initiate the investigation.

Then, there is the process of selecting the artifacts; I need to be cautious in the selection of the artifacts because there is a cultural element that is relevant to the success of the project.  For the project to work, I need the full cooperation of the representative of these seven nations to assist me with the investigation.  Therefore, I need to represent the seven nations and their artifacts at the same time on the website so that no one from any of the seven nations believes that I prefer one nation over the other.  For this reason, I need to procure the artifacts soon after the skeleton of the website is developed or even prior to this.

Lastly, another aspect that I need to include in the time aspect of the project is the IRB registration.  It is a procedure with components and deadlines.  I need to become familiar with these deadlines as soon as possible.            

The stripped down version of the project would be a basic website on Weebly.  I would show the artifacts with a description of the artifact, but there will not be so much detail as to include a video or a map.  Perhaps I will just use an image with a few details of whom it belongs to and where the artifact is found.

The map would just be an aerial map to show the geographic location of Puyo and surrounding areas.  I would not add any other layers to the map nor would I be placing neither images nor interviews within the map.  I would need to inquire if I need to apply for the IRB because I will be conducting interviews, but not publishing them on the website via video or audio recording.   The choosing of the artifacts would remain in the same procedure.  Regardless if the website has a few or several components, the success of the project still remains with the full cooperation of the seven nations and I representing the seven artifact of each nation on the website at the same time.

With regard to the skills that I have at the moment, I have enough to begin without much discourse.  I would still research on how to perform a better interview because this also remains an important aspect of the project.  The interview will give me the components of the artifact’s story, which regardless of the complexity of the website, still remains relevant to the project.


  • Luke Waltzer says:
    You’re moving in the right direction. For the purposes of an ITP independent study, the scaled down version of this project seems about the right scope. My recomendation at this stage is you remain focused on that approach, but consider building using a non-commercial content management system, such as a self-hosted WordPress install (which you can set up via ReclaimHosting) or on the CUNY Academic Commons. You’ll want to make sure that you continue to control the content after it’s posted, and the best way to insure that is to stay away from proprietary tools.

    Omeka seems like overkill for what you propose. Keep it simple.

    For the remainder of the semester, you’ll want to focus on creating a roadmap for your project with specific benchmarks that you think you can reasonably hit. Always remain focused on the artifact. Each page of your website will tell its story, and the narrative of Amauta Ñanpi will be woven through the seven. When we met, you spoke about a bracelet that one of the students was wearing. Do you have enough information about that bracelet and its lineage to write up an outline for what that “article” might look like? This could be helpful as you go into the process of doing research so that you have a clear sense of what questions you need to ask about each artifact.

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