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Nestled between the Mission and Swan mountain ranges in west-central Montana, the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society is expanding its outreach through Next Exit History.
Back in June, I wrote about the Pend Oreille Basin Heritage Project and the opportunities for using mobile technology to satisfy requirements of regulatory compliance or to serve as creative mitigation. A component of that work was collaborating with the Kalispel Indian Tribe in northeast Washington to both interpret their history and to do so in a way that recognizes the cultural significance of places and the ongoing preservation of the Salish language. This has much broader application than just including tribes as stakeholders in projects and throwing in a few Native American sites to broaden the sweep of historical interpretation: it can aid in the preservation of language and, in a dynamic way, provide tribal communities a way to both tell their stories through their own voices (literally) and promote heritage tourism in the process.
The beauty of an app like Next Exit History lies in its flexibility. The ability to take a large network, add your own network and connect your content to others in a way that is valuable to both you as a site and app users. Flexibility helps to ensure that no matter your goals and how often they change, there are ways to incorporate the features of Next Exit History to make it work for you.
The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society in Condon, Montana operates a small, locally funded and staffed museum in West Central Montana. The Society has been in existence since 1988, but didn’t acquire its museum until 2011. Since then, the organization has collected artifacts and constructed displays about the valley’s Native American, Homesteading and Logging History in the main, log building. It also has collected and restored 5 additional, smaller structures and located them on the museum grounds.
Heritage organizations have an agenda. We want the public to discover historical and cultural sites and value the stories they tell. We also want visitors to support the preservation of cultural resources and the organizations that act as their stewards. While our agendas are certainly ambitious, well-planned interpretation can go a long way toward helping us succeed.
One of the great adventures of working with technology is finding what uses lie beneath the original intended purposes. Besides getting to know the technologies and functions it posses, there are hours spent creating new and different ways to bring that technology to new groups to meet needs and serve groups of people potentially left out previously.
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Washington DC has its “Capital Fourth”. Boston has its "Pops" and outstanding fireworks over the Charles River from its Esplanade. Here in West Central Montana, we celebrate the holiday in an equally patriotic, if less extravagant manner.
It took Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery two years, four months, and ten days to reach the Pacific Ocean after leaving their winter camp in St. Louis. Along the way, the group mapped and surveyed thousands of landmarks; made countless zoological and botanical discoveries; met with members from dozens of Native American tribes; and proved plausible the Jeffersonian ideal that the United States could one day stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
It seems like only yesterday (January of 2007 to be exact) that Steve Jobs stepped onto the stage of the Macworld Conference & Expo to announce to the world that Apple was releasing its most revolutionary product yet; the iPhone.
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What do you think of when you hear the term “historical interpretation”? Perhaps a roadside sign? A brochure? Maybe a website? If so, you’re not alone. But in a world where the majority of Americans own smartphones and use their mobile devices to learn about history and culture, it’s critical that we rethink the means by which we convey information related to history and heritage sites. This is why when the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District (PUD) in northeast Washington State reached out to us a few years ago to develop 21st century tools to interpret the history of rural Pend Oreille County, we suggested the Next Exit History mobile app.