Sea and Cedar Internship, Anthropology 479

Whatcom Museum Education Internship

Local Native American Culture and History

Western Washington University Contacts
Judith Pine

Museum Contact
Victoria Blackwell, Director of Exhibitions & Programs

Museum Internship Description and Overview

The People of the Sea and Cedar is a favorite school tour provided by the Whatcom Museum for local schools. Each year, the museum provides this workshop/tour to many third and fourth grade students studying Native American history and culture as part of their curriculum. The workshop focuses on the Northwest Coast Native peoples.

Whatcom Museum Education Department is offering an Internship to students interested in learning about the culture and history of local native tribes and the mechanics of museum workshop preparation, planning and delivery. Students will also learn about other museum education activities and programs. The internship includes training for the People of the Sea and Cedar hands-on workshop and facilitation of this workshop to school groups.

A student must commit to two consecutive quarters. These can be either Winter and Spring with 1 credit in the Winter for training and 3 in Spring when training is applied in workshops with students (for a total of 4 credits) OR 3 credits in the winter that includes both the training and some workshop facilitation and 3 credits in the spring continuing to run workshops (for a total of 6 credits).

WORKSHOP TRAINING - Learning about the program

  • The training reviews the culture, history and life skills of the native people through lecture, demonstration, video, and hands-on activities.
  • Student training includes required reading, observations of the workshop program and some hands-on experiences.

WORKSHOP FACILITATION - Giving the program

Students have the opportunity to facilitate the People of the Sea and Cedar workshop after having completed the basic training. This is available in Winter/Spring.

Learning Outcomes

The internship is designed to:

  • Teach students about museum education programs for school groups including planning, preparation, delivery and classroom management.
  • Provide training in the skills of leading museum tours and workshops and offer experience in facilitating workshops.
  • Assist students in learning about local native culture and history.

Student responsibilities include:

  • learning about local native tribes and their culture through lecture and reading
  • learning techniques of native crafts and daily life
  • presenting a hands-on workshop up to two days per week to local school groups
  • completing course assignments for the Anthropology Department in Winter quarter and a research paper for Spring quarter
  • completing a Self-evaluation and a Summary of Learning

Internship Details

Credits and Hours. The internship includes approximately 10 hours of onsite training and independent reading. Students then assist in or facilitate the People of the Sea and Cedar workshop with school groups, prepare materials for the workshop or complete other museum work such as the Museum’s Down on the Homestead pioneer tour/workshop or support other historical or cultural events and activities. Students will also complete museum assignments and research as assigned by the Anthropology Department.

Student Learning. Student interns will learn native techniques for weaving, cedar bark preparation, cedar ribbon preparation, twining, woodworking, steam-bending and bentwood box cooking methods. They will also learn to identify Native American artifacts in the museum collection and be able to replicate the museum workshop including training of volunteers, introduction of workshop and facilitation of students' rotations through five workshop stations. Reading will include accounts of local native culture, and specific materials related to the museum’s People of the Sea and Cedar tour and workshop. Potentially students will take a field trip to learn more about local native people.

The Native American workshop facilitation includes:

  • Workshop materials preparation: students learn to set up the workshop, maintain the workshop stations and prepare materials such as cedar ribbons.
  • Training parent-helpers to teach at the stations: approximately 45-minutes is allotted for the parent training prior to the student workshops. Interns learn to train them to facilitate the stations for students.
  • Workshop facilitation: a one-hour hands-on workshop with 5 learning stations includes: cedar bark preparation, cedar bark twining, yarn-making and weaving, woodworking, steam-bending and tool sharpening. The tour leader also demonstrates the technique of cooking salmon in a traditional bentwood box. During the workshop the intern provides a brief introduction to the workshop, demonstrates cooking in the bentwood box, directs the flow of the students through the stations and concludes the workshop.

Grading and Additional Details

10% of the final grade is based on written work submitted to the sponsoring professor. ALL FIRST TIME INTERNS MUST COMPLETE THE CANVAS COMPONENT OF THE COURSE. Once students are registered for Anthropology 479 they will automatically be linked to Anthropology 470 on Canvas.

90% of a student's final grade is based on the work done in the museum. Ordinarily, museum hours are completed by the end of the last week of classes. In extenuating circumstances, museum hours can be completed by Wednesday of Finals Week with permission of the museum supervisor. However, if more time is needed to complete hours, the student must make arrangements with the museum supervisor and notify the supervising faculty member no later than the beginning of Finals Week to secure an incomplete for the quarter and make arrangements for completion. Students may ask museum personnel for a copy of the evaluation form sent to the supervising faculty member after the completion of their museum work but no later than one month after completion. 

Students are encouraged to ask supervisors for letters of recommendation for their portfolios if the skills they acquire and the responsibilities they undertake are deemed significant for their future endeavors.

Required Texts for the Course

First Time Interns

  • Museum Basics by Timothy Ambrose and Crispin Paine. 2018. 4th edition

Second and Third Time Interns will find several books on reserve from which they may draw for their papers. These will include, but are not limited to:

  • Exhibiting Cultures edited by Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine
  • Museum Frictions edited by Ivan Karp, Corinne A. Kratz, Lynn Szwaja and Tomas Ybarra-Frausto
  • Transforming Museums in the 21st Century by Graham Black
  • Reflections of a culture broker: a view from the Smithsonian by Richard Kurin

Written Work

First Time Interns

  • Weekly reading assignments and essay questions for first time interns will be posted on Canvas. Beginning the first week of the quarter, answers are to be submitted by midnight on Friday of each week. Other announcements pertinent to interns may also appear on Canvas.
  • A three page paper that summarizes a student's internship experiences and offers reflections and insights is required by noon Wednesday of Finals Week.

Second and Third Time Interns:

  • Students will also write a three page experience/reflections paper that is due by noon Wednesday of Finals Week.
  • In addition, they will read essays of their choice from books such as Exhibiting Cultures, Museum Frictions, and Transforming Museums in the 21st Century (on reserve) and write a 3200-4000 word paper (up to 5000 words is OK) on a museum topic that draws upon at least three essays. Supplemental readings may also be used for this paper. For example, an exploration of the subject of authenticity in exhibiting might be chosen. The paper could draw from ideas of authors in Exhibiting Cultures which addresses the topic of authenticity. Ideas on the topic from other sources and a student's own thoughts on the topic, informed by lessons learned as an intern, could supplement ideas from the essays. The paper is due by noon on Friday of the FIFTH WEEK of classes.

    The University of Chicago formatting style is encouraged. Other formats are allowed but there must be consistency in the use of any given format.

    Please include the word count at the end of the text of your paper. Your bibliography is not to be included in the required word count.

Application Process

The internship is offered to junior- or senior-level college students or students who will reach junior status by Winter quarter. Interns should be comfortable working with people, hold an interest in Native American culture, and be willing to have an open schedule two days a week during both quarters of the internship. Students must be able to work between the hours of 9 am to 12:00 pm. Dates are either Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays and Thursdays during Winter and Spring quarters. 

Interested students should contact Victoria Blackwell, (360) 778-8947or and provide the following:

  • A brief description of career goals
  • A short overview of related coursework and skills related to the internship tasks
  • A short (one page or less) account of how you feel the internship will support your goals and what you can bring to the program.
  • An override is required from a sponsoring professor (See the top of this announcement).