Reflection Post

I think submitting this post last, is a reflection of how I have been able to manage my time this last semester lol. Nonetheless, I think it important to pen some last words at to conclude this semester long project. I first want to thank my project partner Ben Allen, for truly collaborating on this project. I felt no sense of egoism, selfishness, or general unkindness from him at all, which was a breath of fresh air, but also sad because this is the last collaborative project of my undergrad career. My surprise didn’t stop here, the support I got from Dr. Welsh and Dr. Wallace and Leah and Cassidy were more than I could hope for. I believe in my heart of hearts that this feeling of support revitalized my want to not only finish the project, but to finish the project the best way I knew how. The only thing I wish I could have changed about this project, is that I did it in another semester that wasn’t my last, and when I didn’t have to write my Senior Thesis. I think if nothing else, this site will be a testament of the intensive and collaborative scholarship I engaged in during undergrad. I am indeed proud and exited to continue learning about the Eastern Band and its politics. I have been telling people that I am most excited about this post-graduation summer to read recreationally and I don’t doubt that Cherokee history will make the list.

Course Reflection

From the beginning this course wasn’t exactly what I had been expecting, but the ways in which it was not have been ways that I feel have allowed for my own growth as a student. I came in thinking the bulk of my work over the course of the semester would be my research, but ultimately the research was only one component of a much larger project. Even with the research I set out to do, I ran into multiple difficulties that I was forced to deal with. Doing so has allowed me to learn both new skills and perfect some of those I already had.

When this semester began, I was looking forward to getting to do some kind of original research. Whether in physical archives with manuscripts or via the Internet, I was excited to zero in on something that hadn’t received much attention in the past. Kayla and I did find a subject that I think has been largely neglected, that of the Eastern Band Cherokee and voting rights. The larger story of Native American citizenship and voting rights is more widely known and studied, but from the standpoint of a “public facing” project also felt like it could use some attention. I feel proud of the work Kayla and I were able to do in making a website to highlight these subjects. I don’t know if anybody will ever read them, but at least we put something together that I feel provides some positive value.

In terms of original research, I ended up doing less than I had originally hoped. If minutes from American Legion meetings or the meetings of local election officials in Jackson and Swain Counties exist, I wasn’t able to find them. We were warned away from conducting interviews pretty early on because of the sensitive nature of conducting interviews with EBCI, so that was ruled out.

I did locate what are probably records of the FBI investigation into the American Legion franchise committee’s complaints in 1946, but the requirement to fill out a FOIA request and the time constraints of the course ruled out any further progress in that area. Given the uncertain nature of that investigation’s influence on subsequent events, that might not have been a huge loss. Still, part of me is always going to wonder what information is sitting up there in the National Archives.

If pressure was applied from state legislators on the county election officials, I assume it was “back channel,” and no real records exist. There are signs of what may have happened here, but hard evidence and specific documents were lacking. Thankfully, John Finger’s book on the EBCI contained first hand accounts obtained from interviews by Finger himself of these events. That was as close as we were going to get.

Ultimately, the limited nature of resources for the 1946 resolution of the conflict forced us to broaden the project to cover a more general conflict to provide context, that of Native American citizenship. The research required for this forced me to consider how my specific, local topic fit into a broader conflict. One of my weaknesses as a student in the past, I think, has been when trying to position research I’ve done as part of a larger question. I was forced to exercise that particular muscle for our project, which I feel has been incredibly beneficial.

More generally, the focus of the course on conflict resolution did feel novel and interesting. As a history major I spend a lot of time looking into conflict. A whole lot of time. Trying to focus in on a conflict that was successfully resolved, and trying to think about why it had been resolved, was both interesting and rewarding.

A more mundane skill I worked on for this course was that of planning and executing a long-term project. I had some trouble with Milestone 2, which I won’t make any excuses for, but at least that helped drive home how important it is to make sure nothing is disregarded over the course of a project. I wound up getting sucked into the research so much that I at first neglected the other aspects of the project. If I could do the whole thing over, I would try to wrap up the research much sooner.

This project also forced me to consider my audience more than I ever have before. Especially once work on the website began, it became necessary to constantly take into account the fact that this project is meant for a general audience. Especially since I hope to try my hand at grad school for history, the ability to effectively communicate the facts and findings of a project is critical. I am very glad I got this experience at it.

This is also the first time I worked on a large project in coordination with another student. Thankfully Kayla was a breeze to work with, and we were able to break down our respective areas of the project without any trouble. We both work and go to school full time, so coordinating our schedules did become difficult once or twice, but I don’t think it negatively impacted our final product.

Finally, this is the most work I’ve ever done to create an online version of a research project specifically designed for the public. I feel like I have a decent grasp on WordPress, and am interested in making use of it in the future. I wish I had taken care of research sooner and could have played around with the website a little more, but maybe I’ll go back and put in a few improvements here and there. I am very glad I took a course that forced me to shape a research project for something like a website. I hope it isn’t the last time I get the opportunity.

All in all, this has been a fascinating course. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to take part, and very disappointed at the thought that this may be the final COPLAC digital course ever. I hope it isn’t. This course felt fresher and less rote than a lot of other courses might have. Sorry if I rambled a bit in the middle here, this reflection has been useful on its own as a way to kind of unpack the last few months.


As I touched on at the conclusion of my final presentation, I think the largest takeaways for me were two sentiments, hand in hand, one of which reflects the knowledge I have gained, and another which reflects my thankfulness for the opportunity to do so.

When I look back now on the few brisk December days I spent shivering, underdressed, holding my hands to a burn barrel on the Momentive picket line, I feel as though I am confessing to myself a previous state of ignorance. I had no knowledge of the underlying issues, nor the previous cuts, nor the fact that there was a direct axis between the upper management of Momentive and President Donald J. Trump when I stood on the picket line.

Now I feel I have a clear understanding of all of these interrelated elements, as well as the facts to back up my argument that such setbacks for the middle class are a pretty regular occurrence in modern America. On top of that, I learned how to use WordPress to the extent that I think I would feel quite comfortable using it in the future, perhaps even in a job setting, which I honestly think I might enjoy.

Ultimately, this class granted me a very positive experience, which, especially for a class administered in an online setting, is something I hold in high regard. I am very glad to have taken it.

As a final note, I apologize for the lateness of this post! I am still in the throes of final season here at Geneseo and had quite a busy weekend.

Lillian Rouse – Project Reflection

Wow, this semester has been complicated. From the very beginning when Kendall and I logged in on the first day, driving to the hospital, I knew this would be an interesting semester. It did not disappoint.

Over the course of this COPLAC class, I learned so much. Documenting the non-discrimination ordinance has been a relief from other classwork, and allowed me to channel my interests in research and advocacy all into one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through City Council documents day in and day out, I felt more connected to my community than I have ever felt before. Reading the thoughts and opinions of individuals within our community, finding new documents, scribbling down dates and times and locations, all of it was so fulfilling and interesting. It was like striking gold when I would find an opinion that I hadn’t read before, or an article that was more detailed than the last.

The most challenging part of this project was coming out of my shell. I have always been a shy individual (although it may not seem like it), and interviewing people, even e-mailing community members and requesting their thoughts, was a complicated and often anxiety inducing process. Now that it is done, I look back grateful that I chose to send those e-mails, speak with Dr. Eckelman and record it, and research everything until there was nothing left to research.

The Montevallo community deserves the explanation of what went on during those two years, and to compile all of that information into an easily readable and easily comprehensible format was more so an honor to my community than to myself. I hope that people within the Montevallo City Council and community can look at this project and benefit from the explanation we’ve provided, and maybe even learn something new themselves.

I am really proud of the way the website turned out, both aesthetically and content wise. I will not forget Dr. Welch’s comment, “More rainbows! We want to see more rainbows!” I tried to make it happen, I hope there are enough rainbows! Designing the logo for the website with Kendall was fun, and helped us to calm our nerves regarding this project in it’s initial stages. Once the research began, compiling it all within PaperPile and Google Docs was immensely beneficial for quick reference. When we became confused about what the narrative would look like, we drew it out on a white board.

We worked long hours on this project, not only compiling information, but mulling over the website tweaking little details. There are things I would have changed, but as the website stands now, I think it does great justice to the conflict and subsequent resolution in Montevallo, Alabama.

It has been a difficult semester, no doubt. I have faced some scary health problems, both at the beginning of the semester and towards the end, and both Kendall and I lost our grandfathers two days apart. But I am incredibly proud of the website we created, the narrative we wrote, and the presentation that we gave, even through all those difficulties. I look forward to showing the website to anyone and everyone who will look at it. I thank all of my fellow classmates for their diligence and kindness, and Dr. Wallace & Dr. Welch for being incredible professors.

Thank you all for a wonderful semester, and for being a part of this experience with me. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and will miss the challenges it presented. I feel like it has enhanced my education, and given me something to show people that I am capable of research and execution of projects. I hope we can all keep in touch!

Good luck if you still have finals, and hope you all have a wonderful summer

Lillian Rouse