Indigeneity in the Americas – Fall 2018

This semester’s theme will explore the meaning and importance of Indigeneity in the Americas in relation to both reservation and urban Native communities and their neighboring non-Native communities. More specifically, we will explore the ways that power and privilege in the dominant society has related to Native and Indigenous subjectivities, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexualities, and class. For example, to what extent do historical policies imposed by nation-state governments – like blood quantum – disproportionately discriminate against or disadvantage Indigenous peoples of multiracial ancestry, Indigenous women, and Indigenous peoples of the third and fourth genders?

We will also address how Indigenous scholarship continues to chart new frameworks for analyzing Indigenous cultural production, Indigenous activism, and Indigenous innovation across disciplines, genres, and regions. How do Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, for instance, come to know and relate to terms like subjectivity, agency, power, privilege, race, gender, or settler colonialism? How do these terms, in turn, shape Indigeneity in the Americas? Finally, we will address the question of Indigeneity in the Americas in order to ascertain how bridging Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge is already and will continue to contribute to the critical study of a host of economic, political, social, and cultural issues—from climate change to violence against women to the inequality of resources– being faced by Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike.

Jane Mt. Pleasant

Cornell University

The Paradox of Productivity: Lessons from an Indigenous Agriculture

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Live Stream Link

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) agricultural systems in the 17th and 18th centuries were three to five times as productive as their European counterparts at the same time. This lecture provides insights into this ‘paradox of productivity.’

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and a Civic Learning and Engagement Initiative Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and co-sponsored by the Churchill Fund and the departments of anthropology & archaeology, American studies, environmental studies, philosophy, history and the food studies program. It is part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series and its semester theme, Indigeneity in the Americas.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Jane Mt. Pleasant, associate professor in the Horticulture Section of School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, studies indigenous cropping systems and their productivity. Using her expertise in agricultural science, she examines agriculture from a multi-disciplinary perspective that includes history, archeology, paleobotany, and cultural/social anthropology. Although much of her work has focused on Haudenosaunee agriculture in the 16 through 18th centuries, more recently she has expanded her research to include pre-Columbian agriculture in eastern and central North America.

Mt. Pleasant received her B.S. and M.S. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. (in soil science) from North Carolina State University. She is of Tuscarora ancestry.

Video of the Lecture

Dovie Thomason

Storyteller and Activist

Residency: Monday, October 29 – Friday, November 2, 2017

How the Wild West was Spun

Thursday, November 1, 2018
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7 p.m.

Thomason’s story begins in 1887, eleven years after the battle of the Little Big Horn, when Buffalo Bill Cody brought his premiere of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West to Europe, cementing Cody as one of the most famous people of his day. His show, which he called The Drama of Civilization, attracted millions and affected perceptions of history to the present day.

This residency is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and a Civic Learning and Engagement Initiative Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and co-sponsored by the Churchill Fund and the departments of English, anthropology & archaeology, sociology, history, American studies, and theatre & dance.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Dovie Thomason has been a storyteller and lecturer for over thirty years, sharing the importance of Indigenous narratives and arts to give voice to untold stories of Indigenous America. Her  ability to craft tales that not only enchant audiences––but also
raise provocative questions about Indigenous realities ––has long made her an inspiriting contributor to schools and organizations across the globe. The wry humor and subtle graces that infuse Thomason’s work enable her broad and modern appeal, while a lifetime of study and tradition bearing ensure the deep cultural roots of her craft remain intact. When she adds personal stories, the result is a contemporary voice, speaking with elegance , wit, passion and intention.

As an adult, Thomason never strayed far from the legacy her grandmother gave her. She  graduated college in 1970, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre, with a concentration in Native Studies.  Following graduate study in secondary education, she began to teach high school students in Ohio, as well as work with urban Indian centers and Headstart programs which continue to this day. During her time in the classroom, she came to understand that stories were often the most effective way of reaching learners. This realization confirmed the importance of weaving her grandmother’s lessons into formal education, and increased her drive to understand more about her ancestral craft.

Thomason has been aided in her commitment to Indigenous oral traditions by tribal elders of many nations. The work and support of Vine Deloria (Dakota ) was a critical inspiration to her drawing from writings of his aunt, Ella Deloria , and Gertrude Bonnin, aka Zitka la -Ša (Nakota ). Making the commitment to share these stories publicly was particularly encouraged by the example and direct guidance of Alfonso Ortiz (Tewa ). From them, as well as many other seasoned tradition bearers, Thomason continues to hone her understanding of the ancient craft of storytelling. She was entrusted with new tales from neighboring cultures, different interpretations of familiar stories, and the tales of her  maternal Lakota ancestors. Learning to convey these stories to audiences young and old, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, became Thomason’s vocation.

In the three decades  following her decision to become a professional storyteller, Thomason’s dedication to sharing Indigenous voices has taken her down many roads. She has worked with countless schools and universities, acting as a guest or artist-in-residence for institutions from New  England to New Zealand. She has taught Native studies and regularly visits universities as a visiting lecturer or artist-in-residence, most recently with the Center for Creative Writing and Oral Culture at the University of Manitoba, which also hosts the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. She has presented keynotes, workshops, and consultations for noted organizations, including the National Headstart Conference, TEDx Leadership Conference, and NASA. Her storytelling has been featured on countless prominent stages, including the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Museum, London’s Barbican, and Shakespeare ’s Globe Theater, working with artistic director Mark Rylance. Thomason has also found the time to work on a variety of special projects, lending her voice to narrations for the BBC, NPR, PBS, RTE, and the National Parks Service. She has also produced award-winning audio recordings of her own, receiving the Parent’s Choice Gold Star, the American Library Association’s Editor’s Choice Award, and the Audiofile Earphones. Other notable recognitions include the National Storytelling Network’s  ORACLE: Circle of Excellence Award, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers’ Traditional Storyteller Award, and acknowledgment as a master traditional /teaching artist by the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Smithsonian Associates.

Thomason represented the U.S. as the featured  storyteller in Estonia : EU City of Culture  and Derry/Londonderry: UK City of Culture and Freedom Park in South Africa. She has been hosted multiple time s by The National Museum of the American Indian, as well as international storytelling festivals around the world. Thomason has used her storytelling  to advise the UCLA Film School on narrative in modern film, NASA on Indigenous views of technology, the Smithsonian Associates’ Scholars Program and the premier TEDx Leadership Conference. Her role as a traditional cultural artist has been honored by the National storytelling Network’s ORACLE: Circle of Excellence Award and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers’ Traditional Storyteller Award.

Dan Longboat – Roronhiakewen (He Clears the Sky)

Trent University

Honoring Indigeneity: Indigenous Knowledge(s) and Indigenous Sovereignty

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7 p.m.

For millennia Indigenous Nations have cared for and actively engaged with the landscape and through our respective cultures and unique ways of life have worked to create the bio-diverse richness of the Americas. Today, the Americas are confronted by a complexity of issues and problems that Indigenous Knowledge(s) can help to address. But we’ll need to start from the beginning, opening our minds to learning, understanding and honoring the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.

This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Churchill Fund and the departments of anthropology & archaeology, American studies, psychology, environmental studies, and earth sciences. It is part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series and its semester theme, Indigeneity in the Americas.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Dan Longboat – Roronhiakewen (He Clears the Sky) is a Turtle Clan member of the Mohawk Nation and a citizen of the Rotinonshón:ni (Haudenosaunee – People of the Longhouse), originally from Ohsweken – the Six Nations community on the Grand River. Longboat is an associate professor in the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University, founding director of the Indigenous Environmental Science/Studies program (IESS) and acting director of the newly formed Indigenous Environmental Institute (IEI). He was also the first director of studies of Trent’s Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program. Longboat designed and developed the IESS program – the first of its kind on Turtle Island. Granting both B.A. and B.Sc. degrees since 2009, the IESS program is an innovative and multidisciplinary undergraduate program that brings together principles of both Indigenous and Western (or neo-European/colonial) Knowledge systems for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. It is based on a collaborative partnership between university departments. Unique IESS courses, along with courses in Indigenous Studies and Environmental Resource Studies and Sciences, form the curriculum.

Longboat is celebrated for his Traditional Rotinonshón:ni Knowledge and embeds this into his teaching and in developing the IESS program ongoing. Dan also acts as a cultural advisor and instructor for several programs at the First Nations Technical Institute, Ryerson University and several Ontario universities and colleges. Longboat is invited to share across Turtle Island and lectures and teaches on diverse topics including Indigenous environmental knowledges and philosophy, Indigenous responses to environmental issues, interactive science and Indigenous Knowledge systems, Indigenous education, pedagogy and Indigenous ways of knowing as founded upon Indigenous languages and cultures, the recognition and resurgence of Traditional Indigenous lifeways and practices, human health and the environment, traditional Indigenous foods and medicines, natural resource development and restoration, community sustainability, international Indigenous networks, the recognition of treaty and Indigenous rights and understandings of the environmental and human impacts of colonialism. Longboat stresses the importance of learning from Indigenous elders and knowledge holders as the critical foundation for Indigenous identity, vision and life purpose. He creates links between traditional Indigenous teachings and science and promotes using a “Good Mind” as part of our responsibilities in taking the collective actions needed to restore the earth for the next seven generations.

Longboat and Professor Chris Furgal created the TRent Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge and Science Initiative (TRACKS), in 2011, alongside IESS faculty. TRACKS is a youth education and outreach program that offers classroom and after-school workshops, outreach programming and summer camp experiences for children with a focus on weaving Indigenous knowledges with math and science curriculum. Oshkwazin is a new TRACKS program, which works to develop Indigenous Youth Leadership and Advocacy. In 2018, the Indigenous Environmental Institute (IEI) is a non-profit dedicated to public education, professional development and training, and community-based research.

Longboat has a B.A. from Trent University in Native Studies with a special interest in Human Psychology. Dan completed his M.E.S and Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at York University where his dissertation, The Haudenosaunee Archipelago: The Nature and Necessity of Bio-Cultural Restoration and Revitalization won the Faculty of Graduate Studies prize in 2009.

Related Links

Selected Publications
Kulnieks, A., Longboat, D.R., & Young, K. (Eds.). (2013). Contemporary studies in environmental and Indigenous pedagogies: A curricula of stories and place. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Selected Videos 2017 – Indigenous Studies/Dan Longboat (3.29) This features Dan and has information on IESS courses.
2017 – Dan Longboat: A Way of Life: Indigenous Knowledge to Sustain the World (1.22.04) Dan shares teachings at Dalhousie University’s College of Sustainability in Halifax, NS with an introduction by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall.
2016 – Sustainability and Indigenous Understandings – Trent Talks (16.13) Dan expounds on Indigenous frameworks for making daily changes in the face of the current environmental issues we face.
2015 – Trent University: Centre for Teaching and Learning – Dan Longboat (4.52) Dan shares understandings of Indigenous Knowledge and pedagogies, Traditional teachings and the benefits of bringing Indigenous Knowledge systems into the academy.

Video of the Lecture