Adventure Lab spotlight: Interview with the creator of MSU’s Native American art and culture tour

In partnership with Geocaching HQ, Montana State University (MSU) recently launched a public Adventure Lab experience that takes players on a journey to locations that honor Native American heritage on campus. Suzi Taylor, director of the Science Math Resource Center worked with MSU’s American Indian Council to create the Native American art and culture Adventure Lab. Read more about what Suzi learned along the way.

HQ: How did you come up with the idea for the Adventure Lab?

ST: Native American Art and Culture is an important topic at our university and one that we want to share more broadly. However, it is not my personal area of expertise, so I spent quite a bit of time researching the topic in order to put forth an Adventure we can be proud of. I got to connect with people in Arts & Architecture, Earth Sciences, and Native American Studies.

HQ: What did you discover throughout the building process?

ST: I discovered several new resources on our campus that I didn’t know about despite having worked here many years, including a digital collection of images from our library called Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains.

“This one was a little more of an intellectual journey and a chance to collaborate with some of my MSU colleagues.”

John Pepion, left, and Ben Pease, featured Native American artists, attend the opening reception of SUB Hallway Art – Indigenous Art in Time, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, at Montana State University Strand Union Building, in Bozeman, Mont. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

HQ: Did you have any challenges?

ST: Because I was developing this project in the winter, I had to make sure that the landmarks would not  get covered in snow. I discovered a cool grove of trees and bushes native to Montana – each one has a nice sign that says how they were used by Native Americans. One day when I went back to check my coordinates, the sign I wanted had been completely buried at the end of a snowplow run! Another one now required tromping through a few feet of snow to actually read it. I had to adjust and find one close to the plowed sidewalk so this can be a four-season Adventure.

The art installation in our MSU Parking Garage was particularly vexing for me. The installation spans three floors, and I didn’t want to make the clue TOO easy to grasp right when you walk in the door, so I kept looking for a clue that required a trek to the top floor. Well, every time I checked it, that means I got to trek to the top floor so I ended up getting quite a bit of exercise for this clue.

About the MSU Adventure lab: 

In addition to the five locations on campus, the MSU Adventure includes current and historical photos and video clips that help participants learn about Montana’s American Indian tribes. You can experience the free Native American Art at Montana State University Adventure yourself, or download the free Adventure Lab app and search for an Adventure lab in your area.

To learn more about partnering with Geocaching HQ and how you can create an Adventure Lab experience on your campus, visit geocaching.com/promotions.

Students, faculty, and community members gather fro a round dance during a celebration of Indigenous People’s Day, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, on the Montana State University campus mall in Bozeman, Mont., after an announcement of the building of the Native American Hall with the help of a $12 million pledge from the Kendeda Fund combined with contributions from donors. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez
Ellis
Ellis is a geocaching Lackey and amateur weekend warrior. Her passion for travel and adventure has taken her to remote villages in the Brazilian Amazon, ski mountaineering in the Andes in Patagonia and sailing the isolated islands of the Kingdom of Tonga. She now resides in Seattle where her daily adventure involves competing with traffic while bike commuting and making frequent side trips to the beautiful Cascades and Puget Sound. She loves incorporating geocaching into all of these activities!