For Museums, State/National Parks, Heritage Sites, Powwows, Cultural Centers & Schools
Jessica Diemer-Eaton started in the field of historical interpretation in 2001 serving as a museum guide for Waterloo Village's recreated 17th century Munsee-Delaware/Lunaape site in northern New Jersey. She later became a Native American Studies instructor for a private school and camp before moving to southern Indiana in 2004, taking a position as a educational director for a small history park while studying Anthropology at Indiana University (class of 2012). Since founding WIEP in 2006, Jessica has worked in several eastern states conducting public outreach programs, constructing and furnishing exhibits, and consulting. She also writes and illustrates educational materials... A few of her articles have been featured in magazines, though most of her work can be accessed online (through WIEP website or social media). Jessica’s husband Mark is a machinist and the proud grandfather to seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He is the backbone of WIEP’s interpretive camps, a talented craftsman supplying WIEP programs with corn mortars, pestles, lodge bark, etc., and assists Jessica during most public programs.
WIEP is woman-owned. WIEP is not Native-owned. WIEP works for both Native and non-native organizations, supporting Native and non-Native educational initiatives, and encourages those we work for/with to seek Native voices and participation. WIEP has and continues to recommend Native educators and organizations to those we work with.
WIEP is a sole proprietorship. WIEP receives no, nor relies on no constant or general funding, such as those that would be provided through grants and large donations. Though WIEP receives no stable funding that could cover underfunded or unfunded work, WIEP still strives to provide free, accessible educational material, and free or discounted services to tribal organizations as able to. Most organizations WIEP works for are non-profits.
WIEP is not a museum, center, or site of destination… WIEP is primarily a service to educational entities, supporting/adding to their programming. WIEP has worked for museums, heritage sites (including state/national parks), nature centers, historical events, powwows, schools, public school Indian Education departments, and sugarbushes in the the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New Jersey… on-site (public programs, exhibits) and remotely (consulting, exhibits).
WIEP interpretation and program methodology utilizes elements of living history and public history. WIEP participates in some living history and cultural events, however Jessica, who dresses in Native-style period clothing at some of these engagements, does not act in “first person.” Non-native persons “acting Indian” is disrespectful and counterproductive. “First person” interpretation also insinuates ownership of culture, as if speaking from the viewpoint of a member/representative of a Nation, which is misleading. WIEP utilizes an inviting, engaging, and respectful program format and methodology.
Living History, Period Garments, and Our Ethics: WIEP participates in/works for many living history, powwow, cultural events and heritage/historic sites. For this reason, and at the request of the events, we dress in period cultural clothing… Mark in typical clothing of European trader or interpreter (a mixture of Anglo and Native clothing influences), and Jessica in Woodland Native-style clothing. While there is merit in a living history approach to educating the general public, it comes with condemnation particularly to the representation of Indigenous Peoples and histories by non-natives. It is important to note that because Jessica is not indigenous, wearing such clothing is a conflict of ethics. While Jessica has been shown support based on her living history approach (specifically wearing period Native-style clothing without acting/persona and being upfront about her non-native status), that support doesn't reflect all Native opinions.
The bottom line is dressing in Native-style period clothing as a non-native is inherently problematic, something WIEP acknowledges. WIEP knows there’s merit minimizing “dress out” time for programs not reliant on living history approaches to outreach education. In 2007 WIEP established a “no dress-out” policy for school programs… that is Jessica did not feel it necessary or appropriate to don period clothing for regular (non-powwow affiliated) WIEP in-school programs. WIEP had looked forward to expanding the “no dress-out” policy to include all non-exclusively living history environments, or events without Native representation, or sites without permissions obtained through Native partnerships allowing WIEP living history “dress out” by 2020. Unfortunately due to Jessica’s inability to conduct public programs after spring of 2018 (due to illness), this goal was never fully realized. (This goal will be met upon Jessica’s return to public programming). More than half WIEP public programs are conducted at events with Native participants, where WIEP content is among Native voices,… or at sites with Indigenous partners/consultants that have deemed WIEP acceptable programming.
WIEP works towards a common goal - to see this work dominated by Native interpreters, Native educators, Native scholars, Native voices in the very near future. Towards that end, Jessica is proud to participate in Indian Educational programs that teach enrolled children (or children of enrolled tribal members), to have donated consulting time, materials, and image rights to organizations or programs serving tribal youth, and to give personal communication and support to Native persons starting/wanting to get into historical interpretation. We work with purpose, we work with reverence, and we work with the underlying goal to see this field dominated by Native voices.
Absolutely No Copying Photos or Images on This Site. Do Not Reproduce and Sell Any Images On This Website. Do Not Copy and Post WIEP Photos or Illustrations On Any Blogs or Websites Without Permissions. The Photos That Appear on This Site are Our Property or Used Specifically With Special Permissions ONLY for Our Site; Permissions of the Photographers of the Photos, and/or the Event's Permissions at Which They Were Taken, and/or Those Who Appear in the Photos. We Have No Authority to Extend Their Permissions To Others.