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AIIS 6010 - Speaker Series

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AIIS 6010 - Speaker Series - Fall 2020

Fridays, 11:30AM - 1:25PM; Lectures are open to the public

Speakers and talk titles subject to change

September 4 - Discussion of select scenes from "More Than a Word" (2017). Full film available on Kanopy with current Cornell NetID

More than a word flyer image

Discussion of select scenes from More Than a Word (2017)

An exploration of Native American-based mascots, especially the Washington R*dskins, and their impact on real-life attitudes, issues, and policies. Through interviews with scholars, tribal leaders, lawyers, policy experts, activists, and Washington R*dskins fans, the film explores the history of the slanderous term "redskin," and delves into cultural stereotypes of Native Americans and their relationship to history. Ultimately, the film argues for representations that honor and celebrate the humanity of Indigenous people.  John Little and Kenn Little, co-filmmakers and brothers, are both enrolled members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Together, they are writing Indigenous people into the historical and cultural narrative.

Full film is available to view with a Cornell NetId through Kanopy at the link here.

September 18 - Professor Eric Cheyfitz, AIISP Cornell; "Resisting the Anthropocene: Linda Hogan's Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World"

Eric Cheyfitz speaker series flyer image

In this paper, I begin by analyzing the epistemological difference between foundational Indigenous and Western thought that precludes the Anthropocene from being a concept in the former. This difference centers on the West’s classic opposition between nature and culture, an opposition that does not occur in an Indigenous world view, where, we might say, what the West terms “nature” is always already part of Indigenous social and cultural life. Thus, prior to the settler-colonial invasion of the globe in 1492, the Anthropocene, which conceptualizes the human invasion of nature, was logically and practically unthinkable in Indigenous epistemologies. Given this epistemological divide, in the remainder of the paper, I analyze, using the environmental essays of the Chickasaw novelist and poet Linda Hogan what can only be Indigenous resistance in thought and action to the Anthropocene. In particular, I am interested in the way Hogan proposes anti-apocalyptic answers to the apocalyptic pronouncements that the idea of the Anthropocene has generated in what she calls its “stories of endings.”

October 2 - Assistant Professor Ivanna Yi, Cornell Department of Asian Studies; "Changing Woman and the Collective Voice in Navajo and Korean Literature: Oral Tradition and the Poetry of Luci Tapahonso and Kim Hyesun"

Ivanna Yi speaker series flyer image

How does the oral tradition continue to flourish in written literature? This talk examines and compares the use of the collective voice by leading contemporary Diné/Navajo and South Korean poets Luci Tapahonso (b. 1953) and Kim Hyesun (b. 1955). Centering on the Diné conception of hózhó (beauty, order, and wholeness), the talk considers the significance of the oral tradition in renewing a state of hózhó in (post)colonial contexts in North America and Korea.  

October 16 - Associate Professor Heidi Bohaker, Department of History - University of Toronto; "Anishinaabe Women and the Law of Treaties"

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Building on the important work of Brenda Child, Heidi K. Stark, and Cary Miller, this paper shows how core concepts from Anishinaabe cosmology and epistemologies are essential for understanding the significance of Anishinaabe women in governance.  Professor Bohaker shows how such a framework makes possible a re-reading of the colonial archive against the grain of Euro-American settler authors,  who interpreted the actions of Indigenous women, if they saw them at all, through the lens of their own preconceptions.  Anishinaabe women, unlike their settler counterparts, were not “less favored by law.” Rather, in common with Indigenous women in other civilizations, Anishinaabe women participated fully in the political life of their communities.  They bound council fires and communities together through Anishinaabe treaty law, which defined alliances as relationships of interdependence forged between ensouled beings.  Recognizing the historic role of Anishinaabe women as treaty-makers and maintainers is crucial to interpreting existing settler-Anishinaabe treaties today.

October 30 - Julia Watson, landscape designer and educator, urban design lecturer Columbia and Harvard University; "Design by Radical Indigenism"

Julia Watson speaker series flyer image

Three hundred years ago, intellectuals of the European Enlightenment constructed a mythology of technology. Influenced by a confluence of humanism, colonialism, and racism, this mythology ignored local wisdom and Indigenous innovation, deeming it primitive. Today, we have slowly come to realize that the legacy of this mythology is haunting us.

Designers understand the urgency of reducing humanity’s negative environmental impact, yet perpetuate the same mythology of technology that relies on exploiting nature. Responding to climate change by building hard infrastructures and favoring high-tech homogenous design, we are ignoring millennia old knowledge of how to live in symbiosis with nature. Without implementing soft systems that use biodiversity as a building block, designs remains inherently unsustainable.

Lo—TEK, derived from Traditional Ecological Knowledge, is a cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices, and beliefs, countering the idea that Indigenous innovation is primitive and exists isolated from technology. It is sophisticated and designed to sustainably work with complex ecosystems.

November 13 - Kaighn Smith, Jr., attorney and Distinguished Practitioner in Residence Fellow at Cornell Law School (Spring 2021); "Labor and Employment Law in Indian Country"

AIIS 6010 speaker series: Kaighn Smith Jr. flyer

The governance of labor and employment relations in Indian country foments a clash between fundamental principles of tribal sovereignty and assertions of federal power over the affairs of Native Nations.  A number of federal laws, including the National Labor Relations Act (governing unions and collective bargaining) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (requiring workplace safety measures) are silent about whether they apply to Indian tribes or not. The lower federal courts are at odds about whether such laws apply to Indian tribes and their enterprises, and the Supreme Court has yet to address the issue. But it may well do so in the case of Secretary of Labor v. Red Lake Nation Fisheries, Inc., recently heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In that case, the Labor Department seeks to fine a commercial fishing operation of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians under OSHA for failing to provide personal flotation devices to two Band citizens who tragically drowned when the fishing boat they worked on capsized on Lower Red Lake. Does it matter that the accident happened within the treaty reservation of the Band? Does it matter that the employees were citizens, as opposed to non-citizens, of the Band? Smith will give an overview of the law in this developing area and discuss the Red Lake Nation Fisheries case in particular.

December 4 - Dr. Meredith Palmer (Tuscarora), Cornell Presidential Scholar, UC Berkley; "Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Strawberries, data and meeting kin in the archive"

Indigenous data sovereignty: Strawberries, data and meeting kin in the archive. Dr. Meredith Palmer flyer

Measures and metrics of racial disparities in health and social inequality data—despite their claims to inclusion or eventual repair—often retrench and naturalize an historical figure of a damaged, deficient, or vanished “Indian:” a figurative product of US colonialism. This talk will focus on early 20th century case files and modern archives as technologies and techniques of occupation, and their imbrication in the lives of Haudenosaunee people then as today. Delving into the archives of the Thomas Indian School (1855-1957) near Gowanda, NY, I find that the efforts of TIS administrators to separate and isolate children from broad kinship systems relied on anti-Indigenous practices of measurement and containment. I take strawberries I found as archival data—which sits in a central position in Haudenosaunee worlds as relation and as medicine—as a guide in the school’s archives and a medium through which Native futures have been maintained despite the abuses of the school. Historically grounding the use and limits of data, I show how practices of data-making are continuously refracted through US colonial politics of recognition. Engaging practices of repair, I suggest that the ethical demands of US colonial redress—to restore and restory Indigenous relations to land and life—must reckon and refuse measures and metrics that underlie current calls for equity and inclusion.