The Ohlone Augmented Reality Tour

I teamed up with SCU Professors Amy Lueck (English) and Lee Panich (Anthropology) to submit a proposal that was awarded a 2023 Whitham Family Collaborative Scholarship Award for interdisciplinary research. The award ($30,000) will fund our creation of an augmented reality (AR) tour of the Santa Clara University campus that tells the story of the Ohlone, the Native Americans who have stewarded the land of our campus for hundreds of years. Drawing inspiration from alternative walking tours, such as the race and slavery tour at the University of Alabama, the AR tour allows people to visit about 20 stops on the campus, hold up their phone, and encounter the past, present, and future of the Ohlone in new and provocative ways. For example, a tour participant might walk around a life-size 3D model of traditional dwellings prior to colonization or see the tribal flag superimposed atop a flagpole on the campus. Our self-guided augmented reality tour has the potential to reach the campus and tribal community and the many visitors (including thousands of school children) who visit the university campus each year.

Our project brings together faculty and students from Computer Science, Anthropology, and English with Native community partners. Such truly interdisciplinary collaborations are rare, but can contribute to breakthrough research and social change. We will use the learnings from this process to create “The AR Toolkit for Social Justice Tours,” a guide and set of resources that empowers educators and storytellers around the world to create alternative tours that challenge traditional narratives.

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