IRFFA NEWS JULY 2007
IRFFA Meets with NPS in Chicago
By. David C. Barnum
Meeting at the National Trust Offices
Built upon on the successful IRFFA 2007
Winter gathering in Duluth a follow up meeting occurred in Chicago on May 11th.
In attendance from IRFFA were Missy McDonald (Edwards Island), Ellie Connolly
(Tobin Harbor), Stu Sivertson (Washington Island), and myself (Barnum Island).
From the NPS were Superintendent Phyllis Green, Regional Historian Don Stevens,
Chief of Cultural Resources Liz Valencia. From the National Trust, Midwest
Director Royce Yeater, and Field Officer Genell Scheurell. Finally Dr. Phil
Scarpino, from Indiana University rounded out the group.
There were two parts to the meeting. The
first part was focused on the Context Study that is being done for NPS by Dr.
Scarpino. Funding is being provided by the National Trust and NPS. IRFFA set the
agenda in advance by asking the following questions about the study:
the purpose and goals of the study.
2. Will there be oral histories? Who will be interviewed?
3. How will the logistics work?
question # 1, Dr. Scarpino told us he views the entire island as an
inter-related collection of cultural resources. He does not plan to
evaluate individual buildings, nor will he attempt to analyze buildings in
comparison to each other. There might be subsets within the collection, but he
did not have to be convinced that the larger cultural landscape and related
human activity and stories are where the fundamental value of the resources
lie. Dr. Scarpino mentioned that the whole island might qualify for National
Historic Landmark status. Superintendent Green indicated that some of this was
impractical from a management
standpoint and that she wanted to eventually make a priority
list. The concept of doing a comparative study of the resources was objected to
by the Trust and IRFFA. IRFFA was very satisfied with Dr. Scarpino’s concept of
how this study should be conducted. Over all we felt that this was a step
forward in getting NPS to understanding the value of cultural resources on the
Next we discussed oral histories. Dr.
Scarpino indicated that he probably couldn’t do more than five. He stated that
it would take a great deal of time to prepare for these histories; each history
would take about 2 hours per person. Phyllis asked each person in the room who
they would choose for these histories. Some of the names mentioned were, Grant
Merritt, Stu Sivertson, Clara Sivertson, Howard Sivertson, Jim Anderson, Pat
Johns, Laurie Snell, Lou Mattson, and Betty Strom, along with some others.
IRFFA will have a say in who is interviewed, and IRFFA would like suggestions
from members. It is important to understand that IRFFA’s position is that every
family should have an oral history done, and that this process is only one part
of a larger effort toward the cultural preservation of resources on Isle Royale.
Finally, we discussed the logistics of
Dr. Scarpino’s visit. It was suggested by IRFFA that Dr. Scarpino come to the
island via Grand Portage on the 19th of July. I have to provide
transportation from Portage to Washington Harbor where he can spend the 19th
and 20th. On the 21st I would take him down to Belle Isle
for the IRFFA 2007 summer meeting. The next day, I would drop him off in Tobin
Harbor where he would spend a day or two. After that he will be spending on Mott
Island working with NPS on his project. He would also be doing follow up visits
with the families with transportation provided by NPS.
After lunch we began the second portion
of the meeting, attended by all the previous people. This part was designed to
continue the dialog between NPS and IRFFA regarding two primary issues. One, the
establishment of a long term agreement and preservation partnership between
IRFFA and NPS. Second, the status of the Cultural Resource Management Plan which
has been on the back burner for many years.
The first thing we wanted to know was
whether NPS considers our families “traditionally associated people”. This is a
term used by NPS in their policy manual. By our reading of the NPS definition we
clearly are. However, Phyllis, Don and Liz indicated that research would have to
be done, possibly through an ethnologist to make this determination. IRFFA
believes that it is important that NPS acknowledge our families as traditionally
associated because it then requires a higher level of consultation between IRFFA
and NPS. Further, we believe that this status would improve our chances of
establishing a productive agreement with NPS.
A great deal of time was spent
discussing the planning process that NPS is just now starting. Dr. Scarpino’s
report will be just one part of this process. Royce cited Section 106 of the
Historic Preservation Act which allows for consulting parties to be part of the
process. He stated that we should be part of the process. Phyllis indicated
that she thought we could participate like any other “interest” group at public
forums. In other words our families would have no greater sway on the
preservation of cultural resources than a one time visitor. Royce indicated
that he believed that federal law allowed us as to participate in the planning
as well as the public process. This question was not resolved at the meeting.
Phyllis stated that she had “ears in
many congressional offices”. She believes that our efforts on the legislative
front are in conflict with the public interest. This was disputed in by Missy
McDonald, who stated that we had been attempting for many years to work out an
agreement with NPS that would result in the preservation of cultural resources
with out much progress. Royce interjected that “the enemy of a fragile cultural
resource is ambiguity”. In other words the lack of action on the part of NPS is
putting these cultural resources at risk. At this point in the discussion,
Phyllis put forward the offer of a formalized partnership between IRFFA and NPS
that would take into consideration the concerns of our members. Obviously at the
top of our concerns is having the ability to continue our activities on the
island in a dignified manner. Our members also understand that any agreement
between IRFFA and NPS that allows us to stay on at the island may require our
families to participate in a more formal way with the public and NPS so that the
tan ngible public benefit we bring to the island is clear for all to see.
ended around 1:30pm. We agreed to meet again on June 14th in Duluth
to talk more about the partnership agreement. We have clearly reached a crucial
time in our relationship with NPS. The next several months may determine whether
or not we will ever reach the goals that we established in 2001. The support of
families and friends is now more important then ever. Hopefully every family
will participate fully in our efforts this summer.
NPS Oral History
David C. Barnum
I received from Liz Valencia, Isle
Royale Chief of Cultural Resources and Interpretation, as list of 95 Oral
Histories that were done between 1965-1994. Some of the names on the list are
Edgar Johns, Ed & Ingeborg Holte, Pete Edison, Milford and Myrtle Johnson, Glenn
Merritt, Sam and Elaine Rude, Westy Farmer, Wayne and Marge McPherren, Ruben
Hill, Stanley Sivertson, and John Skadberg. Many of the others are former NPS
rangers, Coast Guard and lighthouse folks.
One of the reasons this list was
available to me at this time is to help us to put forward names for Dr. Scarpino
to interview this summer. Any suggestions that members have will be greatly
appreciated. Dr. Scarpino indicated that he would be interviewing about 5 family
It is not clear what the quality and the
content of these histories are. I believe that one area that IRFFA can be very
helpful to NPS and the public is to take it upon ourselves to help ensure the
tapes are cataloged and preserved. Perhaps much of it could be made available to
the public via the internet. I plan to discuss strategies with Liz about what we
can do with this material to increase its value to Isle Royale. I know many of
our members will be anxious to hear some of these tapes. I will keep everyone
advised as to the status of these oral histories.ō
ISLE ROYALE 2007 CALENDAR
IRFFA Summer Meeting July 21st on
2007 Summer Meeting at Belle Isle
The Isle Royale Families and
Friends Association (IRFFA) will be holding its 6th summer meeting on
Belle Isle on July 21st. We plan to begin the meeting at 3pm
EDT. Following our meeting we will be gathering on Johnson Island for a dinner
hosted by the Andersons. We will be joined by Dr. Phil Scarpino who is heading
up the Context Study. This will be a great opportunity to meet him and discuss
As always logistics are
challenging. To date, we have been successful in our 5 other island meetings.
The key is in knowing who plans to come and who can help with food, transport,
and other logistics. We hope to accommodate about 40 people at our gathering.
EVENTS OF OTHER LAKE SUPERIOR
NATURAL HISTORY ASSOCIATION
IIRNHA 2007 Members
Meeting on Isle Royale
Sunday, July 29
**2:00pm - 3:00pm ~ Annual Membership Meeting, Rock Harbor Auditorium
3:30pm - 4:45pm ~ Membership Program to be announced, Rock Harbor
**5:00pm ~ Membership Picnic whitefish & brats on the Rock Harbor
Waterfront. $12 for adults, $6 for children.
**These events for IRNHA members only.
Times & events subject to changes. Please check here or Rock Harbor Visitor
Center Bulletin Board for updated information.
2007 Members' Service Trip on Isle Royale ~
July 20 to July 28, 2007
For only the second time in over 70 years this venerable organization will be
holding its annual Rendezvous on Lake Superior July 15th-July 18th.