By Natalie Wadle, Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center, Miami, OK
This year I was fortunate enough to attend the AASLH Annual Meeting in Philadelphia with funding provided through one of the Douglas Evelyn Scholarship for Minority Professionals. This was a huge help in offsetting the cost of my attendance for my small cultural center in Miami, Oklahoma. Part of why I wanted to attend this year’s conference was that with the help of 2019 Program Committee Chair Jackie Barton and Ben Barns, Shawnee Tribe second chief, we developed a session focusing on tribally driven research and I was to serve as the moderator. While I did not present in the same way that my panelists George Ironstrack and Shannon Martin did, I felt very fortunate to be able to help coordinate the session and introduce the panelists while also providing a few insights from my work at the Shawnee Tribe Cultural Center. Meeting and working with everyone was also a very rewarding and exciting experience for me. As our session was one of the first of the conference, it set a good tone for the rest of the time I spent in Philadelphia. I was also able to meet and talk with other AASLH members and attendees throughout the conference to talk about my session topic more, as well as about the work they were doing.
The rest of the conference was also amazing with great sessions and truly inspiring plenary speakers on both days. Having the conference in Philadelphia also allowed us to visit some truly remarkable sites. The Eastern State Penitentiary evening event was really amazing. To be able to walk through the space and see how the work has been done there while also gaining a better understanding of the building and the history of it in Philadelphia was truly one of the highlights of the trip. While the building itself did feel oppressive by nature, having the various food and drink stations set up as well as the outdoor entertainment helped to alleviate some of the otherwise stark nature of the visit. The contrast between the small isolated cells with the church-like architecture provided for a really interesting visit and building overall. I feel so very lucky to have been able to attend this year’s AASLH conference as well as to serve as a session moderator and as part of the Program Committee earlier in the year.