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Man In The Maze From the Tohono Odham Tribe of Southern Arizona

Appendix F
Conducting a Legacy Project Interview

Materials & Arrangement
Structure of the Life Tape Interview

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The following is an outline of the basic requirements and procedures for conducting a Legacy Project interview.

In doing the Legacy Project, one is encouraged to do interviews with various family members in order to record thoughts of their growing up, stories about various events in their lives, as well as events with the available family and with each specific parent, grandparent, brother, sister and cousin whom they wish to include. Thus, as the family dialogue unfolds it can include and emphasize social, emotional, cultural and significant events in one's life and the importance of his or her family's experiences together. This beginning can evolve into the continuing collection of memories, which can be shared and expanded upon with additions at various future get-togethers, and even become a tradition for succeeding generations.

A. Materials & Arrangement
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Recording equipment needed: a tripod for camera, adeqtheiruate lighting and inexpensive video camera equipment makes videotape recording the medium of choice, although audiotape recordings can still be used. The decreasing cost of digital video recording equipment makes it an ever more attractive option, particularly for its ease of editing and reproduction.

Seating should be arranged in a semi-circle such that participants can see each other and can be readily filmed by the interviewer. Make sure that room lighting is in front of the participants - avoid strong back lighting. Family members should sit fairly close together, sitting next to his or her significant other. Young children may often be held on their parents' laps.

B. Procedure
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Pre-interview preparation. Provide a list of possible questions or topics one to several days prior to the scheduled interview to allow the subjects to think and list significant life events and to consider how much he or she wishes to disclose about coping with life problems. Review these topics with the patient on the day of the interview. Find out the names of relatives (e.g., grandparents) that the patient would like to talk about and create a brief family tree genealogy. Immediately prior to beginning, describe the process to all participants and encourage family members to volunteer their memories of and feelings about the family members - particularly the ways in which the family members have influenced them, and what they have learned or observed.

Conducting the interview
Begin the interview by having everyone introduce themselves and state their relationship to the patient. Often filming memorabilia (e.g., photographs of forebears) with the patient narrating their stories helps establish their role in the family. Alternatively, this may be done at the end of the interview. Proceed by asking questions of key family members. Solicit family members' feelings, memories, and reactions that are stimulated by the stories being told. Camera time will be devoted to family members - particularly as they begin speaking. The camera should focus mostly on the key family members as they speak or react to the words of others. Continue to the end of the interview, pausing the recording when necessary for participants to get comfortable or for interruptions. Plan for about 90 minutes of interview time.

A five-minutes-to-go signal should be pre-arranged for the end of the interview in order to avoid an awkward or abrupt ending, and to give participants a last chance to voice their feelings.

C. Structure of the Life Tape Interview
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The interview can be seen as having three phases.

Phase 1 - Beginning the interview; birth to young adulthood such as what are your earliest remembrances. Begin with somewhat more factual and safe questions about the participant's ancestry, upbringing, and early life. For example, What is your earliest memory of life? Move on through high school and college.

Typical questions might include:
Describe your relationship with your parents and grandparents.
What do you remember them teaching you?
What was it like being a teenager?
What were you learning at this time in your life?
What was college like for you? Did you have a favorite area of study?

Proceed to later periods in life and significant relationships and events.
What did you do in your twenties/thirties?
Talk about your job and family.
Were there any significant others that came into your life at this time?
How did they influence you?

Phase 2 - Middle of interview. This phase occurs naturally as the patient begins to reveal himself or herself in detail. Explore major turning points in life and career up to a few years ago and important lessons learned. Bring out the significance of events and people for who the patient is today. Family participation is common during this phase - particularly when the interview turns to rearing children and important events that the family shared.
How/when did you meet your future husband/wife?
What discoveries did you make during this time?
How did that experience influence who you are today.
How did having children affect you?
What are you most proud of?

Phase 3 - End of interview. Questions deepen. Patient discusses coping with life, personal legacy, feelings about spirituality and the afterlife, regrets, etc.
What has affected you and your family most?
What has been the most significant change you see in yourself?
What is a typical day like for you now?
During this time, what is of most importance to you?
Talk about your philosophy of life. What values do you hold most dear?

If you have agreed that a discussion of dying and/or the afterlife would be appropriate, guide the interview there. However, be aware that not all participants are prepared to talk about such matters directly.
What do you think happens when a person dies? What do you believe?
Do you consider yourself religious? Spiritual?
Have you become more spiritual or religious lately?
What is your legacy and lessons you hope to have passed to your children?
Ask children to comment.
How do you hope you will be remembered? What kind of legacy would you like to leave with your family?

End the interview with a couple of final summary-type questions.
If you were to live your life over again, what would you do differently or change? What would you keep the same?
What are you most grateful for?
What were your major achievements?
What are your future plans?
What is your family legacy?

These questions were modified for the Legacy Project from the Life Tape Project interviews developed by Alison Siegel, MFT.

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