Why did I decide to pursue an internship at the Sam Noble Museum? Was it because of my fascination with Indiana Jones movies? Was it because of my research focus of Native American Culture? Or was it because of the Dinosaurs?
To anyone who has visited the Sam Noble, the answer would probably be the dinosaurs! For me, it was a bit of all three. The actual reason is my fascination with Native American Culture, and yes, the chance I might get a tour of the paleontology department’s dinosaur collections, but also the far greater dimension encompassed within the total Sam Noble collections.
My own background was originally studying Native American History and culture. When I changed from pursuing a Master’s degree in History, I went into Museum Studies. The history of human material culture has always fascinated me. From my early years watching PBS documentaries rather than Saturday morning cartoons, and my ever-present obsession with digging, I knew I would work within the fields of history or material culture.
When the opportunity came to select an internship I would pursue, The Sam Noble was the top of my list. The variety and size of the collection, the relatively close geographic location, and the reputation of the museum itself, all made my choice for me. There was no other place that I could work with so many of the artifacts that fascinated me. The Sam Noble was the obvious choice, and having made that choice, I sought permission to internship here with Susie, the collections manager in the archaeology department. I am glad she accepted me, because, as so many students do, I had no backup plan. This was the goal, and I was going to get it. After being accepted, I found that I would be working in the archaeology department, and specifically with NAGPRA artifacts and other Native American artifacts- which thrilled me greatly.
My focus on Native American History made this internship an especially rewarding one. Having the opportunity to work with NAGPRA collections, and learn more of the respectful practices and traditions of the tribes with which we work is something I will always cherish. When you catalog a simple rock- it is a rock… it will never be more interesting than a rock. When you catalog a rock that was utilized for a specific purpose by a Native American, it is special- it tells a story. The history of Native Oklahomans is a story yet to be fully revealed or told, and the work we do every day helps reveal that story.
When I chose this internship, I felt like Harry Potter being brought to Hogwarts for the first time. The marvel, the magnificent displays, the history and the Dinosaurs…! I admit- It was hard not to geek out.
I truly love my time here, and would encourage anyone with a love of natural history to volunteer or intern at the Sam Noble- you will not regret it!