University of Oregon apply visit give
Oregon Humanities Center logo; page header
Robin Wall Kimmerer

Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks on indigenous concepts
of personhood and the notion of the public good

Plant ecologist, writer, and mother Robin Wall Kimmerer will present the 2017–18 Robert D. Clark Lecture on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 in a talk titled “We the People”: Expanding the Circle of Citizenship. The lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. in 182 Lillis Hall.

In describing her talk, Kimmerer explains, “Current debates on the future of public lands call for a focus on who is included in the ‘public.’ Who is inside the circle and who is not? Whose voices are heard, and whose are silenced? Indigenous people have largely been excluded from decision-making involving public lands—as has their sophisticated environmental philosophy and practice, derived from traditional ecological knowledge. How might the indigenous concepts of the personhood of non-human beings expand our notion of the public good? This talk will explore facets of how respectful engagement with indigenous knowledge might re-draw the boundaries of “We, the People” as we consider our relationship to ancestral ‘public’ lands.”

Kimmerer is a Distinguished Teaching Professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. She is also the founding director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, whose mission is to create programs which draw on the wisdom of both indigenous and scientific knowledge for our shared goals of sustainability. Her research interests include the role of traditional ecological knowledge in ecological restoration and the ecology of mosses. In collaboration with tribal partners, she and her students have an energetic research program in the ecology and restoration of plants of cultural significance to Native people. She is active in efforts to broaden access to environmental science education for Native students, and is engaged in programs which introduce the benefits of traditional ecological knowledge to the scientific community in a way that respects and protects indigenous knowledge.

As a writer and scientist, Kimmerer’s interests in restoration include not only restoration of ecological communities, but restoration of our relationships to land. She is the author of numerous scientific papers on the ecology of mosses and restoration ecology, and on the contributions of traditional ecological knowledge to our understanding of the natural world. In addition to her scientific writing, Kimmerer is also the author of numerous literary essays and two books, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (2013), which was awarded the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and Gathering Moss (2003), which incorporates traditional indigenous and scientific perspectives.

Of European and Anishinaabe ancestry, Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a book sale and signing. For more information, or for disability accommodations (which must be made by March 6), contact (541) 346-3934 or

next story

Sign Up: OHC email list
uo footer

careers privacy policy about uo find people