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.
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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.