Center for Native American and Indigenous Research Hosts Symposium

Photo courtesy of Patty Loew

The Center for Amerindian and Native Research, located at 515 Clark Street CNAIR hosted its third annual research symposium on Thursday.

The Northwestern Center for Native American and Native American Research hosted its third annual research symposium on Thursday, inviting the community to engage with the centre’s scholarships.

The symposium, which included two panels and a keynote address, celebrated the efforts throughout the year of the centre’s 11 undergraduate, graduate and faculty members who completed their research with funding and resources. of CNAIR.

CNAIR Director Patty Loew, a citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwé, opened the event by reflecting on the “beautiful and fascinating” topics the fellows studied. Their research ranged from making black-native veneers in Mexico to reluctance to vaccinate in Native American communities.

The event also marked the launch of the CNAIR minor in Native American and Native Studies, the growth of the department to over 40 members, and a year-long effort to foster community through virtual open houses and healing of fires.

“The research took place – not exactly the way we thought it was going to unfold, but through creativity, ingenuity and innovation our community of academics was able to achieve remarkable goals,” said said Loew.

The afternoon began with a panel of presentations from the six CNAIR undergraduate fellows, whose projects explored the reinvention of museums, the repatriation of ancestral lands, the exposure of environmental injustice, understanding the intentions of vaccination and documentation of a 35-year relationship with wild rice.

SESP senior Haku Blaisdell’s research has focused on Indigenous interventions at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, ranging from the installation of murals by Indigenous artists to recording racial slurs in the room. Arctic Peoples of the Field.

These projects, explained Blaisdell, were intended to intervene in how the Field Museum has often portrayed Indigenous cultures as “artifacts of the past, frozen in time and strongly decontextualized from the stories and voices of real people.” Blaisdell’s research will take the form of a zine and website to serve as a resource for his museum advisers in their community engagement work.

“This project has shown me not only that the Field Museum is a site of historic and continuing violence against Indigenous communities, but it is also an important site of revitalization, resistance and community building,” said Blaisdell.

PhD Candidate Bobbie Benavidez focused her research on how indigenous knowledge systems can mitigate the development of metabolic disease risk. She conducted her analysis through a case study of the Mayans located in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

According to Benavidez, what is lacking in most Western and Eurocentric disease prevention and intervention interventions is an indigenous perspective, drawing on ecological knowledge and traditional food practices of the community to implement. more efficient and collaborative solutions.

In the communities Benavidez studied, for example, the solution might be bees – especially Melipona bees, whose honey can be used to effectively combat everything from healing small cuts to helping with reversal of child malnutrition.

“The CNAIR community really challenged me to think about what I mean by ‘integration’ and what I mean by thinking about these biomedical frameworks and thinking about indigenous knowledge,” said Benavidez. “It’s really important to place this in the specific context and engagement with the communities you are trying to help.”

The symposium concluded with an introductory presentation by history professor and full professor at CNAIR, Doug Kiel, on engagement with a concept that cuts across scholarship recipients’ projects and the discipline of Amerindian and Indigenous studies as a whole: la sovereignty.

The presentation challenged the misconception that indigenous sovereignty is “given” and not an inherent right of any people. Kiel, who is a citizen of the Oneida nation, argued that people should not only view sovereignty as fluid artistic expression, but also as an inherent concept belonging to all fields of study.

He concluded by noting that despite the diversity of academic backgrounds for scholarship recipients, each project focused on the two core ethics of CNAIR: collaborative thinking and public engagement.

“Working together on different areas and issues – these are the values ​​of our CNAIR community and what is so great about what comes together year after year here at our symposium,” Kiel said.

E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @daisy_conant

Related stories:
Researcher donates collection of Native American and Native American books and texts to NU
The CNAIR community connects through virtual open days


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