🔗NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow: High Plains Drifter: Public Lands and Public Memory in the American West
American Conservation Experience
This Fellowship is placed with the High Plains Group of Parks (Amache National Historic Site, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Capulin Volcano National Monument, and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site) located in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. The four parks of the High Plains Group represent two distinct eras of public lands and public memory.
The High Plains Group of Parks is seeking one postdoctoral Fellow to contribute to research, interpretation, outreach, and educational and digital programming initiatives guided by the geographic scope and period of significance of the group of parks. While seemingly disconnected, there is a cohesive story driven by Indigenous peoples, European colonization, Westward expansion, trade, and agriculture leading to distinct moments of opportunity, tragedy, and persecution. The Mellon Fellow will help the parks of the High Plains Group in applying new scholarship and new perspectives to resource documentation, interpretation, and partnership outreach.
Each NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow will complete work in four areas. Fellows will (1) perform project-based research; (2) share research results; (3) produce and substantially contribute to interpretive and educational products; and (4) pursue career-focused work.
1) Project-Based Research: The main product for year one will be research the context of each park’s establishment and management to study the changing values of preservation and conservation on the High Plains. The remainder of the year will be devoted to developing interpretive products, such as updating digital content, reviewing exhibits and waysides, and writing scholarship briefs for front line staff. The second year will include time for the Fellow’s proposed project, additional interpretive product development, and updated baseline documentation for park resources and a project to research potential common political and cultural themes between the Sand Creek Massacre and the establishment and operation of Amache. The specifics of work in year two will be developed in conjunction with the Fellow’s mentorship team, as well as other subject matter experts as needed.
2) Sharing Research Results: The reconstructed fort at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site represents an opportunity to examine the site’s bicentennial legacy as the Fellow would improve the scholarship used at the site and assist all four park units in truly representing an inclusive telling of history that would include themes of the commemoration of America’s 250th such as the denial of civil liberties and experiences of people on the High Plains. Amache National Historic Site’s recent designation and impending establishment also provide the Fellow with a unique opportunity to be one of the first to actively contribute to delivering interpretative products to the agency and the public. The work of the Mellon Fellow will go a long way in increasing the capacity and relevancy of historical research for the group and lead the development of a cohesive narrative that connects all four park units.
The Fellow will be expected to develop and sustain connections with program-provided mentors and host staff, associated NPS staff, members of their Fellowship cohort, and other Fellows across the tenure of the program. In addition to being provided mentorship and support themselves, the Fellow will have the opportunity to mentor others and to enrich staff knowledge by organizing events such as virtual speaker series and presentations. Twice a year, the Fellow will participate with their cohort and other Fellows in a virtual conference for NPS staff and partners to provide updates about their research. The Fellow will be responsible for tracking and reporting accomplishments and for supplying copies of interpretive, educational, and research products to their host and to the National Coordinator.
3) Interpretive and Educational Products: The Fellow will work with their mentors and support team to identify feasible interpretive and educational products informed by their research. Examples of potential interpretive and educational products developed for this Fellowship opportunity could include: advising on a short film intended for wide distribution to all NPS units; authoring content on NPS.gov highlighting research findings as well as syntheses of applicable secondary source materials; reviewing a handbook for use by NPS staff and the public; critiquing existing interpretive programming and media; and developing content for in-person programming at NPS and partner sites. Ensuring that these products are historically accurate and reach as wide an audience as possible will be a priority of the Fellowship.
4) Career-focused Research and Products: In consultation with their mentors, the Fellow will carry out a career-centered project. About 20 percent of the Fellowship will be dedicated to this scholarly work that advances the Fellow’s career path. The Fellow will be supported by a multidisciplinary team that draws on local, regional, and agency-wide expertise. In addition to NPS staff, the Fellow will also have an external mentor whose work addresses public history.
Essential Responsibilities and Tasks:
- Conduct original research into the history of interconnection of trade, tragedy, and public memory across four National Park units in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico; synthesize existing research to share with NPS and partner sites through in-person and virtual meetings and on multiple digital platforms.
- Review interpretive programs and products and develop resources for Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site and Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.
- Review interpretive programs and products and develop resources for Amache National Historic Site and Capulin Volcano National Monument.
- Conduct research related to the establishment and management of the four parks and how they reflect changes in American conservation, preservation, and use.
- Research the commonalities and differences between Colorado politics and citizen reactions to the Sand Creek Massacre (1860-1870) and the operation of Camp Amache (1941-1950).