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This fall the American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Speaker Series will feature the following scholars every other Friday, 12:20-2:15 pm. These lectures are part of a bi-weekly graduate seminar (required for graduate students getting a minor in AIIS). They are open to the public to attend.


Director, Indigenous Law Institute     

“Native Americans as Infidels in U.S. Law and Policy: Conceptual Roots of the Current Ecological Catastrophe"           
Steven T. Newcomb (Lenape, Shawnee) is an internationally recognized author, scholar, and educator. For more than four decades he has been researching and writing about the origins of federal Indian law and international law dating back to the early days of Western Christendom, most notably focused on what he calls the idea-system of discovery and Christian domination. He is one of the foremost authorities on the Vatican papal decrees of the fifteen century and their destructive impact on Original Nations and Peoples. The idea-system of domination found in those documents have resulted in the decimation of Original Nations and Peoples of Mother Earth, destroyed sacred life-ways, and sustainable ecosystems, and deprived humanity of vitally important Sacred Indigenous Teachings and Wisdom.

Newcomb is author of Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery (Fulcrum Publishing, 2008) and co-producer of the 2015 documentary film, “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code” directed and produced by Sheldon Wolfchild (Dakota). The film is based on Steven’s book and his extensive body of research. 

In 1992, Newcomb and Birgil Kills Straight, a Traditional Headman and Elder of the Oglala Lakota Nation founded the Indigenous Law Institute and called upon Pope John Paul II to officially revoke the papal bull of May 4, 1493 and other such decrees. 

In May 2016, he met with Pope Francis prior to a meeting that same day with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Vatican City.   

SEP 27: Cristobal Martinez (Cherokee) - 400 CALDWELL HALL

Artist & Chair, Art and technology, San Francisco Art Institute

"Art is Tecpatl — A Flint Knife Tongue"

Cristóbal Martínez, PHD is an artist in the collectives Postcommodity and Red Culebra, and in 2003 founded the indigenous hacker ensemble Radio Healer.  Martinez is the Chair of Art and Technology at the San Francisco Art Institute, and is a scholar in linguistics, rhetoric, art, and technology. Martínez positions metaphors that mediate complexity at sites of dromological, spatial, social, cultural, political, ecological, and economic anxiety. By interrogating our human behaviors within these contexts, his work reveals the complex and often incongruent nature of our memories, behaviors, beliefs, values, assumptions, choices, and relationships.  In Postcommodity, Martinez and his collaborators are recipients of grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2010), Creative Capital (2012), Art Matters (2013), Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (2014), Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (2017), and Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship (2017-2018). The collective has been exhibited nationally and internationally,  including: Contour the 5th Biennial of the Moving Image in Mechelen, BE; Nuit Blanche, Toronto, CA; 18th Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, AUS; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Scottsdale, AZ; 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY; Art in General, New York, NY; documenta14, Athens, GR and Kassel, DE; the 57th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, PA; Desert X, Coachella Valley, CA; Art Institute of Chicago, in Chicago, IL, and their historic land art installation Repellent Fence at the U.S./Mexico border near Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, SON. The collective was awarded the Fine Prize for their contribution to the Carnegie International, 2018 titled From Smoke and Tangled Waters, We Carried Fire Home.

OCT 18: Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa) - 400 CALDWELL HALL

Filmmaker & Associate Professor, Department of Performing and Media Arts, Cornell University

"Words from a Bear: Defining Indigenous orality on the screen"

Jeffrey Palmer is an Indigenous (Kiowa) filmmaker and media artist. As a Dean's Fellow at the University of Iowa, he received his M.F.A. in Film and Video Production in 2012, with an emphasis in documentary film and video installation. He also received his M.A. in Native American Studies, focusing on Native American exploitation in early cinema and his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Film at Cornell University, in the department of Performing and Media Arts. His films have screened around the world at the Sundance Film Festival, HotDocs, Seattle International Film Festival, The Berlinale European Market, PBS Online Film Festival, Maoriland Film Festival, Borneo International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE, Festival International du Film Ethnographique du Québec (FIFEQ). His work has also been featured in the Hollywood Reporter, IndieWire, Indian Country Today, and the Native American Times. He received awards and recognition from the Sundance Institute Creative Producers Award, Sundance Institute Native Program Lab fellowship and Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow. He has received grants from ITVS, The Ford Foundation Just Films, PBS American Masters, and Vision Maker Media. He just completed his directorial feature debut, "N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear", which world premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, received the Ted Turner award for filmmaking, and will be nationally televised on the PBS series American Masters in the fall of 2019.

NOV 1: Jonathan Jones (Wiradjuri & Kamilorol of SE Australia) - MILSTEIN AUDITORIUM

Artist, Kaidor Public Art Projects (KPAP), Sidney, Australia

NOV 15: Margaret Bruchac (Abenaki) - 400 CALDWELL HALL

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania     

"Revisiting Wampum in Museums: Recovering Object Memories and Messages"

Native American and First Nations shell wampum beads and belts are often interpreted, in museums, as evidence of mute artistic creations from an unknowable time and place. Wampum is, however, an evocatively potent method of messaging designed to embody relations across time and space among humans, objects, landscapes, and other-than-human beings. In this talk, using examples from her 2018 book – Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists – and from her museum research project – "The Wampum Trail" – Dr. Margaret Bruchac demonstrates how reverse fieldwork can be effectively deployed to recover crucial data on wampum belts and other examples of misrepresented Indigenous cultural heritage. By carefully reconsidering the materiality of these objects, the socio-political encounters that brought them into being, the texts that emerged from them, and the discourse that reveals (or conceals) their meanings, even some of the most fractured memories can be recovered.

About the Speaker: Margaret Bruchac Margaret M. Bruchac—in her multi-modal career as a performer, ethnographer, and historian—has long been committed to revitalizing and repatriating cultural heritage through the use of restorative methodologies that challenge erasures and stereotypes. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Bruchac​​​​​​ is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Associate Faculty in the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, and Coordinator of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Her book – Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists (University of Arizona Press 2018) – received the inaugural Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award. She directs a restorative research project—"The Wampum Trail"—that focuses on the history, materiality, curation, repatriation, and revitalization of historical wampum objects over time.

DEC 6: Gilda Posada - 400 CALDWELL HALL

Ph.D. Student, Department of History of Arts and Visual Studies                                                                                   

This seminar is led by Dr. Jolene Rickard, Director, American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP), and Associate Professor, Departments of History, of Art and Visual Studies, Art, and AIISP. For a full course description please visit our Online Course Roster