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Co-Directors' Welcome

Boozhoo (Hello),

It’s been one trip around the sun together and what a year it’s been! The strength of our Center is our community of students, faculty, and staff. We are so excited about the return of our Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies students and the arrival of new students for whom Native studies is a focus.  Work continues on a Native American and Indigenous Studies minor.  The proposal is in its final draft and soon will be submitted to the NU powers-that-be.

We’re excited to share that Dr. Kelly Wisecup will serve as CNAIR’s co-director in 2018-2019.  Kelly’s specialty is Native American literatures. She returns from a well-deserved sabbatical and will coordinate facets of the Center involved with graduate students, fellowships, and programming.

Our community has grown to include Pam Silas (Menominee/Oneida), our new Associate Director of Outreach and Engagement, who brings decades of experience in leadership positions with national Native organizations, like the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES); the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), and the National American Indian Housing Council. Pam will help us strengthen our external relationships with Native nations, organizations, and industry.

We also welcome Dr. Megan Bang to Northwestern. Megan’s research focuses on the introduction of indigenous culture into science classrooms and the impact it has on Native learning. For years, she and Psychology professor Dr. Doug Medin have collaborated on research projects with the Menominee Nation and with the American Indian Center here in Chicago.

Speaking of Doug Medin, che miigwech (thank you) to our out-going co-director, who was a prime mover in getting the Center off the ground.  He co-chaired the John Evans Steering Committee that recommended many of the initiatives that the Center now leads. Even though he claims to have retired, we hope he and his wisdom will continue to be part of CNAIR.

We also welcome new affiliates Josh Honn, NU’s Digital Humanities Librarian who has been instrumental in helping CNAIR faculty ideate new strategies to teach and learn from cutting edge technology. We also welcome Abigail Foerstner  (Medill School of Journalism), who is writing a new book about the ancient indigenous city of Cahokia; and Janet Dees (Block Museum of Art), who has partnered with us to host Native artists on campus.

A special shout out to Jennifer Michals, CNAIR’s Program Assistant. You can imagine what it’s like to design a new program from scratch. Jennifer’s fingerprints are all over CNAIR’s procedures, structures, and activities. We are really grateful to have someone as capable and dedicated as Jennifer helping to lead our new initiatives.

This year, we are excited to host a number of exciting conversations, workshops, and collaborations, all of which contribute to our commitment to making Northwestern a hub for Native Studies research and to building partnerships with campus and off-campus collaborators.  On Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 8), we are showing the new documentary, The Eagle and the Condor: From Standing Rock with Love and participating in a Facebook Live event that will connect NU with screenings across the continent.  On November 29, in collaboration with the Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies and the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, we’re hosting a Sovereignty Symposium.  Three scholars—Jenny Davis (Illinois); Doug Kiel (Northwestern); and J. Kēhaulani Kauanui (Wesleyan)—will take up questions of Indigenous sovereignty in the context of the increased emphasis on “homeland security” in the U.S.  On February 15, we’re collaborating with the American Indian Center of Chicago to co-host a panel discussion at the AIC about Chicago as a hub for Native literary and activist work.  Kiara Vigil (Amherst) and Laura Furlan (University of Massachusetts) will discuss their new books, each of which examine key figures in these activist movements.  In April, we’re excited to host Elizabeth Hoover (Brown) for a discussion of her award-winning book, ‘The River is In Us;’ Fighting Toxins in a Mohawk Community.  Finally, in spring 2019, CNAIR will host graduate students and faculty from five universities who, with Doug Kiel and Kelly Wisecup, are part of a Humanities without Walls grant studying “Indigenous Art and Activism in Changing Climates: The Mississippi River Valley, Colonialism, and Environmental Change.”

We look forward to seeing you at these events and to working together to build a space for Native Studies research at Northwestern. 

Patty Loew & Kelly Wisecup, CNAIR Co-Directors

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