[Diverse] Community Is Key for Native American Scholars

By Lois Elfman
November 15, 2018

Building a supportive network is crucial for Native American scholars, many of whom are the only scholars in their field at a college or university.

While academia is replete with associations and conferences, for Native American scholars connections with other Native American scholars are fundamental to their success in the academy. Whether it is supportive conversation or research collaboration, the joining together with fellow indigenous scholars alleviates isolation and informs important decisions.

“Many institutions have a desire to have Native American Studies courses, but not necessarily the desire to fund those programs as they should,” says Dr. Jami Powell, the first associate curator of Native American art at the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College. “It does often end up being one person or maybe two people, oftentimes adjunct faculty, teaching in those positions.”

Thankfully, creating community is integral to Native American tribal nations. Institutions such as the University of Oklahoma, which has an extensive department of Native American Studies, serve as gathering places and drive scholarship by creating opportunities.

Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham, professor and chair of the department at Oklahoma, says that for decades tribal nations have been engaged in Native nation and capacity building, and institutions of higher education are a crucial part of that.

“Once Native Americans began entering the academy, many of us have had the goal of creating indigenous spaces,” says Cobb-Greetham, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

“These networks are how we survive and thrive,” says Dr. Shannon Speed, director of the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA, associate professor of gender studies and anthropology and president-elect of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). “They are important professionally  sharing opportunities, providing organization and promoting each other’s work.”

Read the full article at https://diverseeducation.com/article/131946/