Indigenous Ecologies Symposium

Thursday, April 12, 2018
6pm | Wilson 142

Indigenous Ecologies: Interdisciplinary Conversations on Sovereignty, Justice, Indigenous Environmental Knowledge, Collaborative Research, and Community Care


Thursday April 12th – Wilson Hall 142

6pm-7.30pm - “New Constellations of Practice in the Humanities: Backbone, Earth-Keeping, Country, Oceania” 

A talk by Joni Adamson (Arizona State University, Department of English & Environmental Humanities, Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability)

Eight Humanities for the Environment Observatories around the world are networking humanists, social scientists and natural scientists to engage in wider conversations about the Anthropocene, which seek alternatives to teleological notions of progress. Four Observatories in four regions of the world have made indigenous concepts and diverse ontologies central to their discussions and projects.  This talk focuses on how these concepts (Backbone: North American Observatory; Earth-Keeping: African Observatory; Country: Australian-Pacific Observatory; and Oceania—Asian-Pacific Observatory) are contributing to new constellations of practice in the humanities that are piloted by associated networks.  

Friday April 13th – Brooks Hall Common Area

11am-12pm – Welcome and Meet & Greet

1-3pm – Panel and Discussion: Community Care for Country

  • Marama Muru-Lanning (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto), University of Auckland, Anthropology, Director of the James Henare Maori Research Center, Tupuna Awa: People and Politics of the Waikato River
  • Darren Ranco (Penobscot Indian Nation), University of Maine, Anthropology, Center for Sustainability, Director of Native American Research, Developing a Climate Adaptation Baseline for Wabanaki Tribal Nations: Diplomacy, Methods, and Priorities
  • Edward LoureUjamaa Resource Trust, Community Land Rights Activist, Goldman Prize Recipient for 2016, We Call It Home: Collective Land Titles, Community Control, and Caring for Tanzania’s Maasai Steppe.

Friday April 13th – One West Range, Hotel A

6-8pm – Dinner and Book Talk 

Please join us for dinner and listen to Environmental Historian, Rosalyn LaPier talk about her book, Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers, and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet.

 Saturday April 14th – Wilson Hall, 142

10am-12pm – Round Table: Knowledge Sovereignty and the Politics of Sciences

  •  Rosalyn LaPier (Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis), University of Montana, Environmental Studies and Research Associate, National Museum of  Natural History, Smithsonian Institute
  • Kyle Powys Whyte (Citizen Potawatomi Nation), Michigan State University, Timnick Chair in the Humanities, Philosophy & Community Sustainability

This round table addresses the complex and contested histories of indigenous environmental knowledge and western hegemonic knowledge systems, with specific reference to the current “science wars.” Its point of departure is the Indigenous Science Declaration of Support for the 2017 March for Science, in conversation with two of its authors.See:

1-3pm – Round Table: Flawed Environmental Justice and Human Rights Processes

  • Ryan Emanuel (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), North Carolina State University, Center for Geospatial Analytics, Department of Forestry an Environmental Resources
  • Elifuraha LaltaikaMatumaini University, Law Faculty, Director of Association for Law and Advocacy for Pastoralists, Member of the Permanent U.N. Forum on Indigenous Issues

This round table addresses the shortcomings of official legal arrangements meant to safeguard people’s rights to healthy environments and uphold the territorial sovereignty of indigenous communities. Its point of departure is Ryan Emanuel’s recent letter in Science concerning the inadequacy of environmental justice instruments related to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline ( and Elifuraha Laltaika’s observation that regimes centered on the rights of individuals are inadequate to upholding the sovereignty of indigenous communities. This round table will also continue to address connections to indigenous environmental knowledge and community care.  

3:30-5pm – Round Table: Reflections & Futures

In this closing roundtable, invited speakers will offer frameworks and reflections for the future of interdisciplinary collaborations at UVA and beyond, particularly between the Humanities and Sciences, and in relation to indigenous communities. Among other perspectives and frameworks, this roundtable will revisit observatories/conservatories, environmental justice, indigenous environmental knowledges and sciences, memory, and resilience.

For more information about the symposium, contact Jim Igoe,

Supporting Organizations

Virginia Environmental Humanities Colloquium - Page-Barbour Workshops - The Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation - Institute for Humanities and Global Culture - Environmental Thought and Practice - Department of Anthropology Speakers Series - Global Studies - Environmental Resilience Institute  - Global Water Initiative - Office for Diversity and Equity - Virginia Indian Programs-Virginia Humanities