WHA Conference poster

2019 Western Humanities Alliance Conference

In partnership with the University of Oregon’s Native American Studies program and the Native Strategies Group, the Oregon Humanities Center will host the 2019 Western Humanities Alliance conference on November 8 and 9, 2019 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. The University of Oregon and the City of Eugene are situated on Kalapuya Ilihi, the traditional homelands and political territories of the Kalapuya peoples, whose descendants are now citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. (List of cosponsors)

“Engaged Humanities: Partnerships between Academia and Tribal Communities”

Humanities scholars, universities, and centers across the West are increasingly thinking about ways to expand institutional strengths and resources for the benefit of the public good, what many are now calling the “Public Humanities.” Centered around three thematic axes—Climate Change, Sovereignty, and Place—this conference explores the challenges and opportunities of such work as it relates to partnering and collaborating with the First Peoples and Nations of the lands our institutions occupy. Responding to the calls of scholars such as Linda Tuhiwai Smith to decolonize methodologies, archives, and institutions; to center Indigenous knowledge, culture, and voices in contemporary work; and to improve relationships with and responsibilities to tribal communities, this conference explores how institutions might more productively engage tribal communities based upon core principles of respect, reciprocity, consultation, stewardship, and service.

All conference events are free and open to the public without registration.

Conference presenters

Conference map and resources

Lodging information

Conference preview (interview with Kirby Brown (Cherokee Nation)
and Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde)

Schedule (details subject to change)

All events will take place in the Giustina Ballroom, Ford Alumni Center, 1720 E. 13th Ave., on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene on Kalapuya Ilihi.

Friday, November 8, 2019

8:30–9 a.m.          Informal Coffee

9–9:30 a.m.          Opening Ceremony

  • Opening remarks: Paul Peppis, Director, Oregon Humanities Center, and UO professor of English, and Kirby Brown (Cherokee Nation), UO professor of Native American Studies and English
  • Blessing: Marta Lu Clifford (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), Elder
  • Welcome remarks and song: Esther Stutzman (Komemma Kalapuya/Coos tribal affiliation and enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians), Elder and Storyteller
  • Welcome remarks: Michael Schill, President, University of Oregon

9:30–11:30 a.m.          Keynote #1
6th Annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture
Clarita Lefthand-Begay (Navajo Nation), University of Washington professor, Information School, and director of the Tribal Water Security Project; and Fawn Sharp (Quinault Indian Nation), Tribal President, and President-elect of the National Congress of American Indians

Opening remarks: Mark Carey, UO professor of History and Environmental Studies, and Kathy Lynn, Director, UO Tribal Climate Change Project

Student respondents (UO Ecotrust Scholarship recipients):

11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.    Lunch on your own
The Native American Student Union at UO’s Many Nations Longhouse will hold a Frybread Taco Sale benefiting the annual NASU Mother’s Day Powwow (cash only). For additional lunch options, see printed program.

1–2:30 p.m.            Panel #1
Decolonizing History and Restorying Place in the Public Humanities

Facilitator: Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), UO professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies

2:30–2:45 p.m.            Break (refreshments provided)

2:45–4:15 p.m.            Keynote #2
“Beyond Settler Apologies: Land grant Institutions and Indigenous Futurities” Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda Band of Seneca), UCLA professor of American Indian Studies

Facilitator: Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), UO professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies

4:15–4:45 p.m.           Break (refreshments provided)

4:45–6:45 p.m.            Community-based Art and Performance-as-Activism
Concert reading and discussion of Salmon is Everything by Theresa May

Presenters: Theresa May, UO professor of Theatre Arts; and Marta Lu Clifford (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), Elder

The concert reading is presented by the UO Native Theatre Group and will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

Salmon Is Everything is a play developed in collaboration with Karuk, Yurok, Hupa, and Klamath/Modoc tribal communities following a devastating fish kill on the Klamath River in 2001.  A moving account of historic events and a complex public debate that is still with us, this multi-vocal play centers and celebrates the voices of tribal members and their unique relationship with the salmon and the river.  It has been performed numerous times, both as a stage production and a concert reading. This afternoon’s reading will feature Native faculty, students and staff, along with UO and community theatre professionals.  (Book available at http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/salmon-is-everything)​

Saturday, November 9, 2019

8:30–9 a.m.          Informal coffee

9–10:30 a.m.          Panel #2
Community-based Research, Institutional Partnerships, and Giving Back

Facilitator: Jimmy Snyder (Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas), UO PhD candidate, Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education, College of Education

10:30–10:45 a.m.        Break (refreshments provided)

10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.  Film screening: Promised Land

Promised Land is a social justice documentary that follows two tribes in the Pacific Northwest: the Duwamish and the Chinook, as they fight for the restoration of treaty rights they’ve long been denied. In following their story, both in our regions’ shared heritage and in their modern struggles for federal recognition, the film examines a larger problem in the way that the government and society still looks at tribal sovereignty.

12:30–1:15 p.m.          Panel #3
Discussion of the film Promised Land

Facilitator: Kirby Brown (Cherokee Nation), UO professor of Native American Studies and English

1:15–2:30 p.m.           Lunch break on your own

2:30–4 p.m.               Panel #4
Respectful Research Relations: Centering Tribal Needs and Knowledges in Collaborative Partnerships

Facilitator: Paul Peppis, Director, Oregon Humanities Center, UO professor of English

  • Geoffrey Rockwell, President, Western Humanities Alliance, University of Alberta professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing, Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study
  • Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), UO professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies
  • Janne Underriner, Director, UO Northwest Indian Language Institute

4–4:30 p.m.          Closing Ceremony

  • Closing remarks: Paul Peppis, Director, Oregon Humanities Center, and UO professor of English
  • Closing song: Native American Student Union

Additional activities (on your own)

Self-guided Indigenous UO Walking Tour is a collaborative project between Native American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies ARC, Native community members, and the GIS department at the University of Oregon. Anchored in principles of relationality, reciprocity, responsibility, and place, the project seeks to re-presence Indigenous peoples, histories, cultures, and contemporary lives on campus and remind viewers that the UO occupies what was, is, and always will be Kalapuya Ilihi. The map highlights the key points of interest related to Native American and Indigenous history on campus and is an ongoing project of the was created and developed by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Academic Residential Community.

The In-Between: Anthony Hudson/Carla Rossi
Exhibit at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History
A member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Hudson/Rossi is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, and filmmaker who uses performance to confront white supremacism, complacency, and the confusion of “mixed” identities—of living in-between, particularly sexually and racially.

Gifts from My Ancestors: Lillian Pitt
Exhibit at the White Lotus Gallery, 767 Willamette St. (on view through December 7, 2019)
Born on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, Lillian Pitt is one of the most highly regarded Native American artists in the Pacific Northwest. A descendant of Wasco, Yakama, and Warm Springs people, Pitt creates work that draws on over 12,000 years of Native American history and tradition of the Columbia River region.


University of Oregon

Native American Studies Program
Many Nations Longhouse
Tribal Climate Change Project​
North American Indigenous peoples materials in UO Libraries’ collections
Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Northwest Indian Language Institute
Sapsik’ʷałá Program in College of Education
Resources for UO Native American Students
GEO University of Otago Exchange


The Nine Tribes of Oregon
Chifin Native Youth Center
Lane Community College Longhouse
Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland
Oregon Indian Education Association
Senate Bill 13: Tribal History/Shared History


Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission
Mapping Indigenous LA
Karuk Climate Change Projects
Plateau Peoples’ web portal