On This Land: Digital Indigenous History in Wayne County, Ohio

Glenna Van Dyke

Name: Glenna Van Dyke
Majors: History, Social Studies Education
Advisor: Katie Holt

Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Award Research Supported by the Copeland Fund

My WordPress project, On This Land, offers a more inclusive view of Wayne County’s Indigenous populations, accessible to local historians, educators, students, and Indigenous communities. It centers on a critical reading of History of Wayne County, Ohio by Benjamin Douglass (1878), one of Wayne County’s most influential books on local history. My project demonstrates how this book presents a settler colonialist history of the area’s Indigenous populations that justifies their removal and dehumanization. It uses a dynamic, multimedia approach to provide context on the area’s Indigenous history and why historians like Douglass relied on stereotypes, oversimplifications, and racial essentialism to narrate it. This essay places On This Land into its historiographical context, arguing that it represents inclusivity within several historical subfields: digital history, public history, local history, and Indigenous history. On This Land exemplifies recent calls by public historians for critical, inclusive local histories. Its inclusivity rests upon active partnerships with tribal librarians, cultural preservationists, and historians as well as the best practices of contemporary Indigenous historiography. The usage of a digital format allows for greater inclusion of multi-layered historical arguments, conflicting timelines, audience interpretation, and transparency in how a historical argument is crafted. On This Land represents a turn in local history towards greater collaboration and shared authority between Indigenous communities, historical scholars, and non-professional local historians. Following the principles and methods exemplified in this project will lead to greater inclusion of Indigenous communities and an alternative to settler colonialist local historical works in communities beyond Wayne County, Ohio.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

3 responses to “On This Land: Digital Indigenous History in Wayne County, Ohio”

  1. Prof Cowing says:

    This looks fabulous, Glenna. It’s exciting to see how you’ve developed this project since I first heard about it last year. This is such a necessary resource pushing back on settler colonial narratives of Ohio. It looks like a lot of people will be able to access and learn from your work. Congratulations!

  2. Mark Graham says:

    Glenna — This is a really interesting project. Thank you for doing it and for sharing it here. I am interested to learn more about your research if possible.

  3. Prof. Claire Eager says:

    Great to hear about this project at the symposium today, Glenna–thank you for doing this important work! I’d love to read the IS itself as well. Congratulations!