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EWU Lands Major Grant

Published: August 26, 2016

CHENEY, Washington - Eastern Washington University has received a $179,713 Landmarks Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a collaborative project that will examine the history of Grand Coulee Dam and its impact on different social groups.

The title of the project is Grand Coulee Dam--The Intersection of Modernity and Indigenous Cultures. It is a joint effort between EWU and faculty from several universities, including the University of Arizona, Washington State University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The project directors are Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Eastern, and David Pietz, UNESCO Chair of Environmental History at the University of Arizona.

The Grand Coulee Dam project will provide workshops during the summer of 2017 to two cohorts of 6-12 grade teachers. The workshops will explore how different social groups experience history - actual historical events, and the memory of those events. More specifically, the project will unpack the history of Grand Coulee Dam as a landmark of contested narratives. One narrative celebrated the social, economic and cultural power of modernity. The other focused on the loss of indigenous cultural identities and practices.

Participants will explore these historical dynamics in discussion with experts, site visits and engagement with primary historical material including oral histories, art, song and photographs.

The project's goal is to equip teachers with unique and meaningful analytical frameworks to engage their humanities and social science students in conversations centered on how social groups experience and interpret transformative changes of the landscape.

For further information, please contact Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted at


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