History Affects Relationships / Sonoe Nakasone

This study path guides learners through how historical events can affect the ability for libraries, archives, and museums to develop trust with wider communities, and how to begin addressing these historically biased relationships between institutions and the communities they intend to serve.

by Sonoe Nakasone, Community Archivist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries

Learning Objectives

Where you’re going to be at the end:

  • Students should have identified examples of how historical events can affect the ability to develop trust. This experience would ideally develop empathy for community members that may feel distrustful of institutions. This experience may also develop self-awareness of students for how their relationships are affected by historical events.

What kind of path this sets you on:

  • Students should be on a path to have more empathy and self-awareness when working with communities in which they do not have membership.



This assignment asks students to reflect on the ways in which historical events can affect current relations.  Students will read the Mukurtu case study to gain context about why it is important to develop trust when working with communities, particularly underrepresented communities, as an outsider.

Students are asked to imagine that they work at a state library, archive, or museum.  Using at least one provided reading (see “Readings” section) and possibly supplemental readings students identify on their own, students will write a paper, create a presentation, do or record a performance, or some other method of formally reflecting on how and which historical events might introduce barriers to trust.  Here are some examples of ways mistrust might manifest:

  • Not feeling comfortable inviting those outside a community into personal or community spaces
  • Not sharing, lending, or donating personal belongings or sharing personal or community knowledge
  • Not allowing or trusting those outside a community tell stories about the community
  • Not allowing pictures or imagery about a community to be taken or shared

If you are learning on your own, see below for some ideas on how you might think through these questions.



Have students choose from a list of readings and encourage them to find other readings.  Here’s a couple of readings to start with, but you may change the readings to reflect history that is more relevant to you or your students.

Pitzer, Pat. 1994. “The Overthrow of the Monarchy.” Hawaiian Independence Home Page. 1994. https://www.hawaii-nation.org/soa.html.

The above article discusses the history of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy.

Bear, Charla. 2008. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many.” NPR Morning Edition. NPR. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865.

The above article discusses the history of American Indian Boarding Schools.

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