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Fall 2018

In fall 2019, the American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Speaker Series featured the following scholars every other Friday, 11:15 am- 1:10 pm, 400 Caldwell Hall. 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.

SEP 7: Iokepa Casumbal-Salazar

Assistant Professor, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity, Ithaca College                                                                                                                                                                  

“We’re Not Anti-Science, We’re Anti-Another-Telescope”: Kanaka Maoli and Astronomy on Mauna a WākeIokepa Salazar Flyer 2018

How does the western cultural imperative to build ever-bigger telescopes in Hawaiʻi produce conditions that affirm or challenge settler colonialism? Throughout 2015, thousands journeyed to Mauna a Wākea and dozens were arrested in mass protests of the next “world’s largest telescope.” To Kānaka Maoli, the mountain is a sacred place, an ancestor, and a symbol of Native values of land and water protection, ceremony, and the onto-genealogical love Hawaiians call aloha ʻāina. Yet, in their search for the origins of the universe, astronomers contend the summit is “the best place on earth” to build the Thirty Meter Telescope. While astronomers are imagined as stewards of the land, Kānaka Maoli are criminalized as violent and irrational. I analyze how scientific, legal, and state discourses function to contain Kanaka subjectivities, recasting Hawaiians as foils to modernity and foreclosing other possibilities of being. I argue western law, science, and capitalism cohere around the TMT to manage Kanaka indigeneity and obscure historically situated claims to land and sovereignty. Within territorial, statist, and capitalist assemblages, commitments to astronomy expansion reveal the value of the TMT to the settler state as a fetish of objectivity, industry, and rational authority. The struggle for Mauna a Wākea, however, is more than a contest over land management, scientific knowledge, or a multicultural “co-existence.” Such contests are among the ways in which the settler state reproduces itself. For Kānaka Maoli, the mountain embodies a continuum of self-definition and belonging that has sustained us for generations past, and to come. 

About the Speaker: Iokepa Casumbal-Salazar is a Kanaka Maoli scholar of Hawaiian studies, Indigenous politics, race, gender, culture, and power. He is currently an assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity at Ithaca College where he coordinates the Native American and Indigenous Studies minor. His forthcoming book from the University of Minnesota Press—entitled First Light: Indigenous Struggle and Astronomy on Mauna a Wākea—examines the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope and Mauna Kea. 

Oct 5: Leanne Simpson

Scholar, Writer and Artist 

As We Have Always DoneLeanne Simpson 2018 Poster

In this ground-breaking follow up to the critically acclaimed Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back, renowned Michi Saagiig NIshnaabeg academic, writer and musician,  Leanne Betasamosake Simpson recasts Indigenous resistance as a radical rejection of contemporary colonialism focused around the generative refusal of the dispossession of Indigenous bodies, minds and land. Simpson makes clear that the goal of our resistance project can no longer be cultural resurgence as a mechanism for inclusion in a multicultural mosaic. Instead, using story-telling, first person narrative, academic literature and Nishnaabeg intelligence, she calls for unapologetic, Indigenous alternatives to the destructive logics of the settler colonial state, including heteropatriarchy, white supremacy and capitalist exploitation. Rooted in a deep exploration of Nishnaabeg intellectual processes, theory and methodology, As We Have Always Done is a window into Indigenous worlds manifest through the collective embodiment of our theoretical practices. Centred on a generative refusal of colonial heteropatriarchy, gendered violence and an unapologetic call for Indigenous queer normativity, Simpson champions Nishnaabeg anti-capitalist thought and internationalism, new insights into Indigenous methodological and theoretical practices, movement building and mobilization. As We Have Always Done is a gift to the next generation of Indigenous feminists and breaks opens the door for scholars, activists and thinkers to boldly vision and realize radically different Indigenous presences. It simultaneously holds our relational nationhood and scholarship up, while raising the bar for our solidarity, organizing and action in the future.

About the Speaker: Leanne Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics,  story and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.

Working for over a decade an independent scholar using Nishnaabeg intellectual practices, Leanne  has lectured and taught extensively at universities across Canada and has twenty years experience with Indigenous land based education. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba, is currently faculty at the Dechinta Centre for Research & Learning in Denendeh (NWT) and a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. Leanne's books are regularly used in courses across Canada and the United States  including Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back, The Gift Is in the Making,  Lighting the Eighth Fire (editor), This Is An Honour Song (editor with Kiera Ladner) and The Winter We Danced: Voice from the Past, the Future and the Idle No More Movement (Kino-nda-niimi editorial collective).  Her latest book, As We Have Always Done:  Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance  was published by the University of Minnesota Press in the fall of 2017 and won the NAISA best subsequent book prize.

As a writer, Leanne was named the inaugural RBC Charles Taylor Emerging writer by Thomas King in 2014. Her second book of short stories and poetry, This Accident of Being Lost is a follow up to the acclaimed Islands of Decolonial Love and was published by the House of Anansi Press in Spring 2017 and was a finalist for the.Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Trillium prize for fiction.

As a musician combining poetry, storytelling, songwriting and performance in collaboration with musicians to create unique spoken songs and soundscapes. Leanne's second record f(l)light , is a haunting collection of story-songs that effortlessly interweave Simpson’s complex poetics and multi-layered stories of the land, spirit, and body with lush acoustic and electronic arrangements. Leanne was named Outstanding Indigenous Artist in 2018 in Peterborough.

Leanne is Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg and a member of Alderville First Nation.

Oct 19: Michael Dunaway

Ph. D. candidate in the department of Natural Resources at Cornell University

Factors for Technological Appropriateness of Renewable Energy Options in Indian CountryMichael Dunway 2018 Image

Tribes are shifting to investing in renewable energy projects. Technological appropriateness is fundamental to knowing which renewable energy project is a viable investment for tribes. Because tribes have limited resources, they need to know two primary aspects of technological appropriateness:  mechanical efficiency and economic efficiency. Both are based on the geography of the reservation. Using GIS, I have evaluated the mechanical and economic efficiency of solar, biodiesel and wind renewable energy systems for every reservation in the United States. In addition, I have examined in more depth the Yakama, Standing Rock Sioux, and the St. Regis Mohawk reservations to determine what mix of these technologies to create an effective renewable energy portfolio based on several factors that could affect tribes’ investment decisions. The goal of this research is to provide tribes with a tool that will help them to partner with government and academic institutions to build renewable energy systems to strengthen the tribe’s sovereignty.

About the Speaker: Michael Dunaway is a Ph. D. candidate in the department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. His research is at the nexus of renewable energy systems and Native American sovereignty. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Haskell Indian Nations University in American Indian Studies with and emphasis on decolonization and sovereignty theory. He also earned his Master’s degree in Geography at the University of Kansas with an emphasis on Indigenous Geography and a graduate certificate in Environmental Studies. As a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Michael has committed his academic career giving back to Indigenous communities. He served as a mentor for the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Institute for five years teaching Indigenous undergraduates the skills that they would need to be successful in graduate school. He has also been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Alfred P. Sloan Diversity Fellowship. As Michael transitions to becoming a professor, he plans to use his skills and knowledge to help tribes build and maintain renewable energy projects.

Nov 4: Belin Tsinnajinnie

Assistant Professor Indigenous Liberal Studies, Institute of American Indian Arts

Parallels Between Discourses in Identity, Indigenous Education Sovereignty, and Rehumanizing Mathematics EducationBelin Tsinnajinnie Poster

In the era of Trump, we have seen renewed and explicit policies and practices aimed to further dehumanize historically marginalized communities.  Indigenous peoples will note their own histories of family separations, displacements from homelands, and assimilationist tactics through formalized education.  Indigenous educators and researchers have sought to assert tribal sovereignty by reclaiming curricula and pedagogical practices in efforts to revitalize culture, language, land, and identity.  Such conversations bear resemblance to conversations regarding equity among mathematics educators and mathematics education researchers.   Mathematics education researchers have criticized long-standing practices in mathematics education that not only strips the humanistic elements of mathematics, but strips students of their identities entirely. These critiques are often intertwined with discourses of power in mathematics education.  This talk will explore parallels between efforts towards tribal sovereignty through education in Indigenous communities and discourses in mathematics education calling rehumanizing mathematics and mathematics education.  I argue that if Indigenous peoples are to realize education as a tool for empowerment and resistance, we must examine both the gatekeeper and empowering roles of mathematics in the current educational system. 


About the Speaker: Belin Tsinnajinnie is Diné and Filipino from Na’ Neelzhíín, New Mexico and is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of Arizona.  His doctoral thesis focuses on notions of mathematical identity in the context of Indigenous and Latinx students.  While he started his academic training in mathematics, Belin switched his focus to mathematics education to provide greater opportunities to work with and for Indigenous communities.  His involvement as a research fellow with the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latino/s (CEMELA) helped to shape is understanding of the relationships between language, culture, and mathematics education.  He is now an Associate Professor in Indigenous Liberal Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM.  Belin’s interests are tied to social justice and equity in mathematics education, particularly in the contexts of Indigenous communities. 

NOV 16: Victor Masayesva  Victor Masayesva Poster

Artist, Filmmaker, Photographer and Educator                                                                                               

The idea of Sanctuary in our time is colored by the politics of human immigration. As contemporary media consumers, we are saturated with threats and security measures originating from alerts about immigration into our neighborhood. Today state borders have restricted and closed the numerous routes blazed by migrants and only wild birds and animals move freely without visas.

Humankind has been in constant movement since the emergence, leaving a oppressive order, seeking a better life, seeking sanctuary.  For our age sanctuary can be not only far across the politic border but the hope we carry in our soul. Sanctuary is the best we can be at the moment, and in the future.

About the Speaker: Victor Masayesva, Jr. A member of the Hopi Tribe from Hoatvela Village, he has been a life long advocate for the implementation of the indigenous aesthetic in multimedia productions. He has promoted this aesthetic by curating programs at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and serving as artist in residence at the School of Art Institute of Chicago, Walker Art Center, Banff Centre for the Arts and featured director and jurist at the Yamagata International Film Festival, and the CLACPI Festival in La Paz, Bolivia.

Honored with the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award, Masayesva is a Hopi Independent filmmaker who has been at the forefront of experimental filmmaking in the Native American media community.

His publications include, Husk of Time. from the University of Arizona Press and his photographs are in the permanent collections at the Center for Creative Photography. Tucson, AZ.Museum of Modern Art. NYCHouston Museum of  Art. Houston, TX, and the Corcoran Gallery. Washington DC.

This seminar is led by Dr. Troy Richardson, Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor, American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS). For a full course description please visit our Online Course Roster