Conference poster

2019 Western Humanities Alliance Conference

In partnership with the University of Oregon’s Native American Studies program, 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 Community and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

“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.

The conference-rate hotel is The Phoenix Inn Suites, 850 Franklin Blvd. The WHA Conference room block is available until October 7, 2019. To make reservations, please call 541-344-0001 (toll free 800-344-0131) and ask for the Western Humanities Alliance Room Block.

conference map  |   UO campus map
conference map

Tentative 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
Facilitators: Kirby Brown (Cherokee Nation), UO professor of Native American Studies and English; and Paul Peppis, Director, Oregon Humanities Center, and UO professor of English

  • Blessing: Marta Lu Clifford (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), Elder
  • Welcome remarks and song: Esther Stutzman (Kalapuya), Elder and Storyteller
  • Welcome remarks: Michael Schill, President, University of Oregon

9:30–11:30 a.m.          Keynote #1
Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture
Clarita Lefthand-Begay (Diné Nation), University of Washington professor, Information School, Climate and Native Health; and Fawn Sharp (Quinault Indian Nation), Tribal President
Opening remarks: Mark Carey, UO professor of History and Environmental Studies, and Kathy Lynn, director of the UO Tribal Climate Change Project

  • Student respondents: UO Ecotrust Scholarship recipients

11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.    Lunch on your own
Indian Tacos will be available for individual purchase to support the Native American Student Union at UO’s Many Nations Longhouse (cash only) 

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

  • UO/Karuk Partnerships: Cultural Revitalization and Indigenous Land/Resource Management
    Ron Reed (Karuk) and Kari Norgaard, UO professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies:
  • Northern Paiute History Project:
    Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), UO professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies; and Myra Johnson-Orange (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs), Elder
  • Kalapuya Talking Stones:
    David Lewis (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), Marta Lu Clifford (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), and Esther Stutzman (Kalapuya), Elder and Storyteller

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)

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​

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 student, Critical and Sociological 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

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

2:30–4 p.m.               Panel #4
Respectful Research Relations
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
  • Jennifer O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde), UO professor of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies
  • Janne Underriner, Director, Director, UO Northwest Indian Language Institutes

4–4:30 p.m.          Closing Ceremony

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


Native American Studies Program

Many Nations Longhouse

Self-guided Indigenous UO Walking Tour

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