The Center for Great Plains Studies is providing seed grant funding to five small projects that aim to gather stories on the impact of COVID-19 on the people of the Great Plains. The selected projects focus on stories from those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including indigenous, Latinx and immigrant communities, as well as workers from the health care and meatpacking fields.
The projects will yield a small archive of transcribed interviews to help document this unique time and educate others about the experiences of their Great Plains neighbors. The center is partnering with a national rapid-response archive, A Journal of the Plague Year, to help fill the archival silences from the region.
“When future historians look back on this time, we want them to hear the voices and listen to the stories of those most impacted by the pandemic on the Great Plains, rather than just the official pronouncements or cold, hard statistics,” said center director Margaret Jacobs.
The Nebraska Indian Community College project, led by Wynema Morris, focuses on interviews with the Omaha Tribal community in Nebraska as a way of both engaging in story collecting and traditional healing practices. It will reflect the cultural aspect of how a community supports itself during a difficult time. Project leaders intend to share the archive with tribal audiences in the region.
Three professors in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Education and Human Sciences — Edmund “Ted” Hamann, Ricardo Martinez and Amanda Morales — are leading a project that stems from a recent class: “Pandemics, Schools and Helping Meatpacking Communities Recover from COVID-19.” The project will record the perspectives of those living in seven meatpacking communities in Nebraska, which have seen COVID-19 infections above the levels of the rest of the state. Along with contributing to the archive, the project seeks to create educational materials about the role of schools in pandemic recovery.
A project led by Taylor Livingston and Rebecca Buller, of the School of Global Integrative Studies at Nebraska, will examine the experiences of mothers who gave birth during the pandemic by working with related nonprofits to recruit a diverse sample of mothers. Along with generating stories, the project aims to create a photo and map archive to give context to the mothers’ experiences.
From the Department of Communications Studies at Nebraska, graduate students Trevor Kauer and Cassidy Taladay, under the mentorship of Professor Jody Koenig Kellas, are leading a project to collect and disseminate stories of frontline health care workers dealing with the pandemic across the Great Plains. The research will focus on linking health care workers’ stories with markers of health and well-being.
A project led by Cristián Doña-Reveco and Isabelle C. Beulaygue, of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Latino/Latin American Studies, is partnering with the nationwide “Voces of a Pandemic” oral history project to add Latinx stories from the Great Plains to the larger archive. The stories will focus on essential workers and community leaders from the Latinx community and will disseminate the results via academic and community-angled publications.
To follow along with the projects, click here.
The Center for Great Plains Studies is an interdisciplinary outreach and research center at the University of Nebraska. For more information, click here.