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Native American Students in Advanced Academia Annual Symposium

January 1, 2010

NASAA President Karen Capuder (Kanien’keha:ka) is a PhD Candidate in the University of Washington’s Sociocultural Anthropology Program. Ms. Capuder’s collaborative ethnographic research with a local Tribal Elder is grounded in the Kaianereko:wa, the Great Law of Peace, of the Roti’nonshon:ni (Iroquois Confederacy).

On April 23 and 24, 2010, Native American Students in Advanced Academia (NASAA) hosted their Ninth Annual Symposium of Native Graduate Student and Faculty Research at the University of Washington. This year’s symposium, entitled Indigenous Research and Relationships, featured keynote speaker Dr. Shawn Wilson, an Opaskwayak Cree author and educator from northern Manitoba who currently lives with his wife and sons in New South Wales, Australia. Dr. Wilson’s 2008 book, Research is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods, is grounded in Cree teachings and life experience working with Indigenous peoples worldwide and is quickly becoming one of the most highly valued foundational texts for Indigenous and Indigenist researchers in both the social and physical sciences. Dr. Wilson’s keynote address, as well as his discussion forum on day two of the event, provided UW graduate students and community members with profound insights into the levels of relational accountability involved in culturally appropriate, ethical research.

NASAA was also deeply honored to host Cree/Metis filmmaker Loretta Todd, creator of the Aboriginal Media Lab, in partnership with the First Nations Studies Department at the University of British Columbia. Ms. Todd’s eloquent film, Kainayssini Imanistaisiwa: The People Go On explores the significance of land, memory, and knowledge in the lives of the Kainai Blood peoples of Alberta. Ms. Todd engaged in deep discussion with many of the film’s attendees after the screening, enabling the genesis of fruitful cross-border relationships, knowledge sharing, and community.

NASAA would also like to acknowledge the work of Michelle Daigle, member of the Constance Lake Cree First Nation and MA Candidate in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria. Ms. Daigle currently lives in Seattle, and is a treasured new member of the NASAA community. Her presentation, “Awuwanainithukik (Living a Cree Way of Life): A Discussion on the Transmission of Indigenous Knowledge,” showed the promise of a young, gifted, critical Indigenous scholar, and was an inspiration and reminder to all of us of the passion and good-mindedness that we Indigenous scholars bring to the academy as we do our work grounded within our own ancestral values and teachings.

This year’s symposium, supported by the notions of relationships and relationality, brought diverse Indigenous and Indigenist scholars together for two full days of much needed ceremony. NASAA would like to extend their appreciation to the many gifted scholars from UW and beyond who shared their work with all of us. NASAA is also grateful to the Canadian Studies Center for their generous support for this year’s symposium and film screening, for their commitment to Indigenous education at UW, and for providing opportunities for members of UW’s Indigenous community to transcend borders.

This project was supported, in part, by funding from the Center’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship Grant, US Department of Education, Office of International Education Programs Service.

By Karen Capuder