A search for two tenure-track faculty as well as for postdoctoral fellows who work in the field of indigenous studies are among the latest Northwestern initiatives to address recommendations from the 2014 task force report on Native American outreach and inclusion.


Conversations and efforts to facilitate a University-wide focus on Native American history, culture and inclusion at Northwestern have been taking place across the University following the task force recommendations, according to an update by the Office of the Provost.  

A major goal is to build a strong group of scholars working in indigenous studies across the University.

Guided by the provost’s office, the conversations have involved just about every area of the University as well as leaders from the Native American community and scholars doing leading work on evolving research about Native American culture, art, health, literature and history.

“We are excited about bringing new faculty to campus in addition to the faculty we’ve hired recently in indigenous studies,” Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer said. “Their work will address important local, national and global concerns and play a key role in our evolving efforts to integrate Native American scholarship, culture and perspectives into the life of the campus.”

The leadership of Jabbar R. Bennett, who joined Northwestern in July as the inaugural associate provost for diversity and inclusion, will be central to Northwestern’s Native American inclusion efforts. The University also recently announced a search for an assistant director for Native American student outreach and inclusion.

The new assistant director will be jointly employed by Undergraduate Admissions and Multicultural Student Affairs, providing an important bridge for carrying out strategic goals of the two units. He or she will coordinate recruitment of underrepresented students, with an emphasis on Native Americans, and join a team that does programming for the multicultural student population. 

“This new assistant director position provides Northwestern with a great opportunity to advance diversity, a key strategic priority,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said. “We strongly believe that people of different backgrounds challenge and broaden our understanding of the world and are integral to the education we provide at Northwestern.”

The initiatives also include new courses, faculty hires and an appointment to an academic chair named after an early Native American alumnus leader.

“The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America” is the recommended “One Book” read for the entire University this year and the centerpiece of lectures, films and other programs. The author, Thomas King, recently participated in discussions related to the book on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

And this fall, the Dittmar Gallery hosted an exhibit of works by descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre, graphically illustrating the focal point of a study by Northwestern scholars and leading experts in Native American and U.S. history from other universities that led to the formation of the task force and its report on Native American outreach and inclusion.  

The massacre occurred Nov. 29, 1864, when John Evans, one of Northwestern’s founders, was the governor and superintendent of Indian Affairs of the Colorado Territory. During the massacre, U.S. Army Cavalry soldiers slaughtered approximately 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho, most of them women and children. In its aftermath, Evans was forced to resign.

For the second year, a commemoration of the Sand Creek Massacre and other events will take place on campus during Native American Heritage Month in November.

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