Tag Archives: Recruitment

John S. Jacoby in Nepal & South Africa

Country of Service: Nepal; South Africa
Place of Service: Bastipur (Nepal)
Service Type: Teacher at Bastipur High School in English (grades 6 & 7), Science (grade 6-8), & Math (grade 6); Peace Corps Country Director for South Africa
Dates in Service: 1970-1972; 2011-2014
Keywords: Agriculture, Architecture, Business, Community Development, Education, Environment, Health, HIV/AIDS, Information Technology, Libraries, Literacy, Sports, Urban Planning, Youth

Accession Date: April 4, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Reports
  • Publications

“Project Peace Pipe”: Developing the Program

What makes a good Peace Corps volunteer? Is it experience and compassion, leadership or flexibility? Or, is it confidence? What does it mean to be a Peace Corps volunteer, and what do we expect to gain from volunteering abroad? These were the questions that Peace Corps officials mulled over as they prepared a special training program directed at young Native American volunteers.

Ladonna Harris is speaking to a group of people out of the frame, wearing a blazer and carrying a hat in her left hand. Her right hand is raised as she speaks.

LaDonna Harris in 1976. (2012.201.B0250.0666, photo by P. Southerland, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).

Developing the Program

“Project Peace Pipe” was created in 1966, as a collaborative program between the Peace Corps and a Native-led organization called Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity (OIO). The project specifically recruited and trained Indigenous adults for service in the Peace Corps, following OIO’s mission to improve the lives of American Indians by offering programs for community development, work experience and placement, and youth activities.[1] Comanche political activist and OIO founder LaDonna Vita Tabbytite Harris hoped that Peace Corps service would help the volunteers develop “talents for organization and skill in mobilizing community action…applicable to the problems of Indian communities in all parts of the United States where skilled Indian leadership is needed, but often unavailable.”[2] Not only would these volunteers return with practical skills, OIO envisioned that American Indian RPCVs would have greater opportunity to work in federal agencies and provide healthy role models for other Indigenous youths.

Photograph of Donald I. Broadwell with biographical data, reading "Donald, 19, born in Park Rapids, Minnesota, is from Fosston, Minnesota. He studied at Bemidji State Collece, Bemidji, Minnesota, majoring in English and French. He has extensive experience in library materials circulation. He has experience in grounds maintenance and with pre-sensitized photographic plate processing. He also has general farm background. He attended Peace Corps pre-training program in Peurto Rico. Don has held various leadership positions in 4-H and other school and college organizations. He has done volunteer teaching in remedial reading. Hobbies include skiing, swimming, hiking and other individual sports."

Donald Broadwell, Peace Corps Escondido, Summer 1968. Colombia Rural Community Development Group B, August 28-October 14, 1968.

Donald Broadwell, a PCV recruited through this program, also believed that the project operated under the assumption that Native Americans would have a greater ability to understand with the life experiences and bond with rural Colombians, many of whom were subsistence farmers with strong Mayan backgrounds.

As for the Peace Corps, the project was one of the first attempts to attract volunteers with working-class and marginalized backgrounds. Although the Peace Corps sought to emphasize “self-reliance, racial equality, the right to self-determination, and social justice,” the organization struggled to attract volunteers of color.[3] An article in the Journal of Black Studies reported that in the 1960s, most Black youths considered the Peace Corps to be “an agency for White, middle-class Americans.” While service was possible to many white, middle-class individuals fresh out of college, many people of color and working-class graduates took jobs to support their families or sought to improve their own communities. [4]

Peace Corps officials used the interest in Project Peace Pipe to counter this WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) image and attempted to create more accessible avenues for “socio-economically deprived minority group youngsters.”[5] While there are no available records that mention the origin of the project’s name, the use of the term “peace pipe” traces back to the arrival of European colonists, who applied the term to Indigenous ceremonial pipes.[6] It is likely that the name “Project Peace Pipe” may have just been the result of the Peace Corps’ desire for “peace” imagery, and the irony was not lost on volunteers.

In an article in the August 1968 issue of the Peace Corps Colombia monthly newsletter, Porvenir, one editor commented:

“Regardless of the appropriateness of this name, it is curious that a program, intended to integrate, labels the group in question with a title that differentiates them. Names serve to categorize and tell things apart; why make a distinction when the intent is to show the similarity of different Americans when working toward a common end? Even if the title “Operation Peace Pipe” proved useful in training and recruiting, that should be the extent of its function.”

The unique title was not the only difference that set the group apart from the other volunteers. The OIO and Peace Corps officials designed the program around the idea that Native youths, “because of their lack of self-confidence, felt they had little to contribute to persons overseas.” Working under this assumption, the program designed targeted recruitment processes and a five week pre-training to build confidence and develop communication skills.

Peace Corps-Indigenous Relationships and Red Power

Project Peace Pipe was not the first interaction Native communities had with the Peace Corps. In fact, impoverished conditions on reservations were so similar to underdeveloped areas in Latin America, Africa, and Asia that the Peace Corps used them for preliminary community development training. In at least one instance, in 1962 volunteers stationed at the University of Arizona prepared for service at Gila River Reservations in Arizona. The Peace Corps Volunteer reported other development programs at the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. [7]

Black and white photo of three men dig in dirt with shovels. Another group of men stand along a wooden fence in the background.

Peace Corps Volunteers during training at the Gila River Reservation in Arizona. 1962. University Archives Photographs, Arizona State University Library.

The Project also coincided with the rise of the Red Power movement. Across the country, Native Americans mobilized to protest and rewrite the history of American Indigenous peoples, address high levels of poverty, and bring legal suits against states stealing Indian land and violating federal treaties.[8] During the 1960s, communities formed organizations like the National Indian Youth Council (NYIC) and the American Indian Movement (AIM), leading groups to Washington, D.C. to occupy the offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, called the “Trail of Broken Treaties.”

In fact, three volunteers recruited through Project Peace Pipe were Sioux members from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where the town of Wounded Knee is located. Growing up in Pine Ridge, these volunteers were likely influenced by the violent confrontations between white supremacists and their community, and the increased political militancy of the organized Red Power movement. If the volunteers returned after their service in 1970, they could have been involved with the AIM occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973; however, no available records mention this. To learn more about the history of Wounded Knee, visit Democracy Now and the History Channel.

Landscape color photo of the Pine Ridge road sign, covered in bullet holes.

Pine Ridge Sign, October 17, 2016. posted to Flickr Creative Commons by Orientalizing.

So why did a Native-led organization like Oklahomans for Indian Opportunity join forces with a federal agency at the height of the Red Power movement? The answer lies with activist LaDonna Vita Tabbytite Harris. Harris founded OIO after Oklahomans elected her husband Fred Harris to the Senate. After her family relocated to Washington, D.C., Harris loudly advocated for Native rights and legislation, including championing the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act. Her determination and husband’s political networks put her in a place to help Indigenous communities gain federal recognition and push for change. Seeing an opportunity for youth engagement, Harris instigated a partnership with Peace Corps and established authority over the program design from the onset. 

Moving Forward

Only 5 years prior, President Kennedy announced to the nation, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” before establishing the Peace Corps.  Project Peace Pipe also considered what Peace Corps could do for Indigenous youths. But how did the actual volunteers compare with the judgments made by OIO and the Peace Corps?

Project Peace Pipe Part 2 will explore the practical aspects of specialized training, the experiences of volunteers, and the outcome of the program following the merge into the rest of Peace Corps Colombia- Rural Community Development-B.

References:

Amin, Julius A. “The Peace Corps and the Struggle for African American Equality.” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No.6, July 1999, 817. (Accessed January 22, 2019) https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2645886.pdf

Chavez, Aliyah, “LaDonna Harris ‘stumbled’ into a legacy of impact,” Indian Country Today. August 18, 2019.

Harris, Mrs. Fred R. and Leon H. Ginsberg, “Project Peace Pipe:Indian Youth Pre-Trained for Peace Corps Duty”, Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 7 No. 2, January 1968

Moore, Powell A. (1959). The Calumet Region: Indiana’s Last Frontier. Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved 20 August 2015.

Old Elk, Hunter “127th Remembrance of the Wounded Knee Massacre,” Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Decmber 29, 2016. (Accessed January 27, 2020) https://centerofthewest.org/tag/wounded-knee/

Peace Corps Division of Volunteer Support, The Peace Corps Volunteer, a Quarterly Statistical Summary, (Columbia University: The Division, 1962), 13. https://books.google.com/books?id=mIOKCxx-scUC&pg=RA16-PA13&lpg=RA16-PA13&dq=peace+corps+training+on+indian+reservations&source=bl&ots=grUjRQ3-TY&sig=ACfU3U1fOyhvcjnt_zwg5KA-EumuUzxTaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwie_rKY7YXnAhWQq1kKHRbRBUMQ6AEwEnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%20indian%20reservations&f=false

Peltier, Leonard “Wounded Knee II, 30 Years Later,” Democracy Now, May 9, 2003. (Accessed January 27, 2020) https://www.democracynow.org/2003/5/9/wounded_knee_ii_30_years_later

“The Native American Power Movement,” Digital History, 2019. (Accessed January 27, 2020) http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3348

“Wounded Knee,” History, November 6, 2009. (Accessed January 27, 2020) https://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/wounded-knee

[1] Mrs. Fred R. Harris and Leon H. Ginsberg, “Project Peace Pipe:Indian Youth Pre-Trained for Peace Corps Duty”, Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 7 No. 2, January 1968, 22.

[2] She left OIO in 1968 after President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to the National Council on Indian Opportunity (NCIO), but the organization’s inaction led her to resign and continue grassroots activism.  Mrs. Fred R. Harris and Leon H. Ginsberg, “Project Peace Pipe:Indian Youth Pre-Trained for Peace Corps Duty”, Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 7 No. 2, January 1968, 21.

[3] Julius A. Amin, “The Peace Corps and the Struggle for African American Equality.” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No.6, July 1999, 811. (Accessed January 22, 2019) https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2645886.pdf

[4] Julius A. Amin, “The Peace Corps and the Struggle for African American Equality.” Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 29, No.6, July 1999, 817. (Accessed January 22, 2019) https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2645886.pdf Marshall, M. (1984, October). The Peace Corps: Alive and well, and looking for Blacks. Ebony Magazine, pp. 48-54.

[5] Mrs. Fred R. Harris and Leon H. Ginsberg, “Project Peace Pipe:Indian Youth Pre-Trained for Peace Corps Duty”, Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 7 No. 2, January 1968, 22.

[6] Moore, Powell A. (1959). The Calumet Region: Indiana’s Last Frontier. Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved 20 August 2015.

[7] Peace Corps Division of Volunteer Support, The Peace Corps Volunteer, a Quarterly Statistical Summary, (Columbia University: The Division, 1962), 13. https://books.google.com/books?id=mIOKCxx-scUC&pg=RA16-PA13&lpg=RA16-PA13&dq=peace+corps+training+on+indian+reservations&source=bl&ots=grUjRQ3-TY&sig=ACfU3U1fOyhvcjnt_zwg5KA-EumuUzxTaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwie_rKY7YXnAhWQq1kKHRbRBUMQ6AEwEnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%20indian%20reservations&f=false

[8] “The Native American Power Movement,” Digital History, 2019. (Accessed January 27, 2020) http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3348

Lorelei Christl Robinson and Gary D. Robinson in Colombia

Name: Lorelei Christl Robinson and Gary D. Robinson
Country of Service: Colombia
Service Project Title: Peace Corps Staff, 1965-1971
Dates in Service: 1961-1963-; 1963-1965
Keywords: Education

Accession Date: January 17, 2020 (updated May 7, 2021)
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1.5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Photographs
  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Training Materials

Playing in the Archives? A glimpse into the board game “Join the Peace Corps!”

This summer, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer A. Michael Marzolla donated materials from his service as an Agricultural Cooperative Volunteer in Guatemala and El Salvador. One of my first tasks as the 2019-2020 PCCA Fellow was to organize Marzolla’s collection, which featured his hand-drawn educational graphic books and a homemade board game titled “Join the Peace Corps!”

The game includes Marzolla’s hand-drawn board and 42 cards within twelve categories separated by themes: the application and acceptance process, training, on the program site, the termination process, and readjusting upon return to home country.

As I sorted the game cards and read the directions, I was struck by a flurry of questions about the game’s origins. Luckily, Marzolla agreed to answer my burning questions about the history of the game:

"Join the Piece Corps!" Game Board, hand drawn in the shape of a dove carrying and olive leaf.

“Join the Piece Corps!” Game Board, A. Michael Marzolla

I designed “Join the Peace Corps!” while working as a recruiter in Boston circa 1978-1980. I wanted to create a game that would simulate the Peace Corps experience from application through training, placement and in-country to the close of service. I had input from my RCPV recruiter colleagues, friends, and contacts so that every card was based on an experience someone had as a volunteer. The game was played three or four times—sadly, it was never published although people who played the game seemed to enjoy the experience.

With 42 different card options, Marzolla presented an amusing repertoire of experiences, from “you begin adopting local dress and customs” to “you are accused of being a spy for the CIA.” Both cards contribute to the historic context of the game and reflect true or rumored events within the Peace Corps. For example, when certain host countries accused Peace Corps volunteers of spying for the U.S. government, the CIA released a statement in 1965 that publicly barred volunteers from gathering military intelligence for any country in which they volunteered (however this lapsed after 5 years of resignation).

Arrow points to game board square and reads "You want only a warm sunny country with sandy beaches. You ask if the PC supplies suntan oil. Go back one and miss a turn."

“Join the Peace Corps!” Game Board Tile

The game also clearly punishes the negative qualities of a potential volunteer, represented in the board tile: “you want only a warm country with sandy beaches. You ask if the PC supplies suntan oil. Go back one and miss a turn.”

Of course, I immediately wanted to play this game. Associate archivist Leslie Nellis and I contacted local RPCVs and a few others from the American University community to join us. Library staff Matthew, Sarah, and RCPV Alayne agreed to help us try it out.

From left to right: Sarah, Matthew, and Leslie play "Join the Peace Corps!" with game board in front of them.

From left to right: Sarah, Matthew, and Leslie play “Join the Peace Corps!”

On Wednesday, September 11, we assembled in the archives processing room. Aside from difficulties shuffling the cards and defining when to move forward, the game was an enjoyable glimpse into the Peace Corps. We looked to Alayne to compare her own experiences as a volunteer in Nepal with the stories feature on the game board. She found that the lengthy application period and digestive complications upon arrival were true to form.

Enjoyment value aside, Marzolla’s game introduces an interesting aspect of archival materials. Whereas archives traditionally collect, preserve, and share materials for research purposes, interactive items such as board games challenge the definition of what it means to “share” collections. Thanks to Michael Marzolla and his donation, we were able to consider these complexities while rolling the dice.