8th Annual Indigenous and American Studies Storyteller's Conference to be Held March 23-24

Scholars to address the global and transnational phenomenon of settler colonialism

Release Date: March 9, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Colonizing settlers will be under the microscope March 23-24, when the University at Buffalo Graduate Students Association in American Studies presents "Challenging Settler Colonialism," the 8th Annual Indigenous and American Storyteller's Conference.

It will feature talks by noted author Jennifer Nez Denetdale, PhD, (Dine/Navajo) of the University of New Mexico, and Susan M. Hill, PhD, (Mohawk) of Wilfred Laurier University, Ontario, Canada. For conference program details contact Steve Demchak at sdemchak@buffalo.edu.

The conference will be held in honor of two late UB American studies faculty members and indigenous intellectuals, John Mohawk, PhD, and Barry White, both members of the Seneca Nation of Indians, who taught the legacy of colonization and its impact on those living in settler colonial societies.

On any continent or in any region in which they appear, colonizing settlers are not just migrants. Dutch, Roman, Israeli, Spanish, English, Chinese -- whatever their origins, they are invaders who come to stay and carry with them a sense of supreme or ultimate power. After overcoming indigenous populations, they establish political orders and, in general, make use of native labor before trying to make try those natives vanish.

"Settler colonialism" is a subset of the scholarly field of colonial studies, but the phenomenon is studied, as well, in the fields of law, history, genocide studies, indigenous and postcolonial studies, historical geography, philosophy, gender studies and in virtually all the social sciences.

Mohawk and White taught that because colonization continues to affect the lives of native peoples in many ways throughout their colonial and post-colonial history, it must be critically examined. Mohawk passionately advocated for revitalizing indigenous cultures as a way to liberate those cultures from colonial mindsets. White used traditional teachings and knowledge to highlight the differences between indigenous and Western thinking.

The conference will open on March 23 at 6 p.m. with a Haudenosaunee Social in the social hall of Campbell Student Union, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo. It will be followed on March 24 at 9 a.m. with a series of panel discussions in Clemens Hall on the UB North Campus.

A Haudenosaunee-Native American Studies Research Workshop, to be held at 1 p.m. March 24 in 1004 Clemens Hall, will examine the groundbreaking book, "Reclaiming Dine History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita" (University of Arizona Press, 2007), by Jennifer Nez Denetdale, PhD. Discussion of this text will be led by American studies graduate student Steve Demchak, president of the UB Native Graduate Association.

Later that day, Denetdale will present the conference keynote address, "Indigenous Scholarship as Resistance, Dissonance and Celebration" in 120 Clemens Hall.

Denetdale, was the first Dine/Navajo to earn a PhD in history. Today an associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico, she specializes in, among other issues, indigenous nations, colonialism and de-colonialization.

The great-great-great-granddaughter of the well-known Navajo chief Manuelito (1816-1894) and his nearly unknown wife Juanita (1845-1910), Denetdale began to explore her family history as a way of examining broader issues of Navajo historiography.

The conference dinner and commemorative celebration will be held March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel, 310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls, N.Y.

The John Mohawk Memorial Address will be delivered at the dinner by Susan M. Hill, PhD, of the Mohawk Nation, who resides in the Grand River Territory of the Six Nations. Hill, who holds a masters degree from UB and a PhD from Trent University, is on the faculty of the Indigenous and Contemporary Studies Department of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario.

Hill's research interests and publication topics include Haudenosaunee land history and ethics (including the contentious Caledonia land dispute, 2006 to present), indigenous research methodologies and ethnic and Native education. She received the Ontario Governor General's Gold Medal for her doctoral dissertation, "The Clay We are Made of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River" (University of Manitoba Press, 2010) and an Ontario Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowship for academic honors.

Hill's research through the National Aboriginal Health Organization pertains to the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal students to the field of medicine, and a history of First Nations/Inuit/Métis education as it pertains to health human resource capacity building. Hill is a member of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

The conference is co-sponsored by the UB Native Graduate Association, UB American Indian Science and Engineering Society, UB Americanist Group, UB Anthropology Department, UB Global Gender Studies Department, UB Linguists Group, UB Music Department. UB: Native American People's Alliance, UB Humanities Institute/Haudenosaunee-Native American Studies Research Group, UB Department of American Studies, UB Native American Center for Wellness Research, Sub Board I, UB Graduate Student Association, Buffalo State College Native American Student Organization, Native American SUNY: Western Consortium, and the Seneca Niagara Falls Casino & Hotel.

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