Patrick Lozar, now an assistant professor at the University of Victoria, was one of 10 fellows supported by the Canadian Studies Center as part of a Mellon Foundation sub-grant in 2015.
My name is Patrick Lozar and I am assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia. I am also an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. I earned my Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington in 2019. In my research, I explore the experiences of Indigenous communities in the interior Northwest whose homelands were bifurcated by the Canada-United States border in the 19th and 20th centuries. Native nations, including the Okanagan, Sinixt, and Ktunaxa, endured the border’s increased enforcement and found their families separated on one or the other side of the imposed boundary line. At the same time, the peoples’ persistent relations, traditions, and sense of homeland sustained their Indigenous nationhood beyond and across the forty-ninth parallel. Practices of Native nationhood exposed the artificiality and incomplete nature of Canada and the Untied States’ shared border well into the 20th century.
Though I had wondered about these Indigenous cross-border relationships growing up on the Flathead Reservation, where our Kootenai or Ktunaxa band is related to Ktunaxa bands in British Columbia and Idaho, I began my research on this topic in earnest while in my Ph.D. program at UW. In 2015, I came across and applied for the Area Studies and Indigenous Ways of Knowing fellowship offered through the Canadian Studies Center and funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation. My project was selected for the fellowship. The funding allowed me to conduct research at archives all over the Northwest and British Columbia—from Victoria to Cranbrook and from Pullman to Helena. I was able to immerse myself in the archival records and collect the research materials that served as the foundation of my larger history project. I was then in the position to engage with these archival records alongside Indigenous community histories and anthologies, which profoundly enriched my research.
For the purposes of the Area Studies and Indigenous Ways of Knowing fellowship, I wrote an essay based on this research and presented my work at the fellows’ symposium later in 2015. The scholars attending the symposium provided excellent and encouraging feedback on my essay and I gained a great deal by way of networking at the event. The essay I composed as the culmination of this fellowship served as a first draft of my first article submission to an academic journal. While still in my Ph.D. program, I submitted an article manuscript on the topic of Indigenous communities and international borders to the journal of Ethnohistory, which the journal published in 2018. The support I received from this fellowship at that juncture in graduate school proved fundamental to my success in my Ph.D. program, which then put me in a competitive position for securing a tenure track academic job upon graduation.
In 2015 the College of Arts and Sciences awarded the Canadian Studies Center $40,000 for the proposed Mellon grant project, Area Studies and Indigenous Ways of Knowing. The funding went to support students from across campus who were engaged in research on the topic.