Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project


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This slide show was produced for a public open house concerning the City of Fort Collins' new Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. The slideshow is a summary of the Fort Collins Museum's Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project, funded by the Preserve America program.

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Soapstone Prairie Oral History Project

  1. 1. Speaking History: The Soapstone Prairie Natural Area Oral History Project Funded by the US National Park Service Preserve America program, the Fort Collins Museum, and the Fort Collins Natural Areas Program Presentation Date: August 2007
  2. 2. Phase I: Data Collection In 2006, the Fort Collins Museum began collecting oral histories from people connected to the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.
  3. 3. Phase I: Data Collection Interviews were conducted with over 40 subjects, including ranchers, Native Americans, descendents of homesteaders, archaeologists, local history experts, naturalists, and land managers.
  4. 4. Phase I: Data Collection To date, the project has collected 37 hours of videotape, scanned historical documents and photos, and transcribed hundreds of pages of interviews.
  5. 5. Phase I: Data Collection All the collected material – audio tapes, videotapes, transcribed interviews, and digital photos – will be made available to the public at the Local History Archives.
  6. 6. What Have We Learned? The area contained within the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area has been more or less continually occupied by humans for over 12,000 years.
  7. 7. What Have We Learned? Why? The area is on a natural migration route and contains a diversity of plant, animal, and water resources where the plains meet the foothills.
  8. 8. What Have We Learned? The elements that made the area attractive to prehistoric inhabitants continued to make it attractive for Native American tribes, ranchers, and homesteaders into the modern era.
  9. 9. What Have We Learned? <ul><li>Through our interviews, many themes emerged: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how various peoples have related to the landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>social aspects of living on the landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Native American knowledge of the landscape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>stewardship of resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the importance of Soapstone’s cultural resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the interdependence of people and the land </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. What Have We Learned? Soapstone is a treasure trove of both natural and cultural resources. Information gathered through the oral history project will help determine how Soapstone will be managed and give people a deeper appreciation of its many beauties. This project is an invaluable way to document and save the stories from our past.
  11. 11. Next Steps The Preserve America program has awarded a second round of grant funding to the oral history project. In the next phase, the Museum will take the information already collected and begin to make it available to the public in the form of publications and a website.
  12. 12. Next Steps The story of Soapstone will continue to emerge as we learn more about the lives of those who have called it home. And the story won’t end there - as Soapstone begins its next chapter of human visitation in 2009, we will become part of its history as well.