The 2012 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Annual Meeting—co-hosted by Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Yale University—will take place on sovereign reservation territory at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center in Uncasville, Conn., from June 3 to 6. This is the first NAISA meeting in New England and the first academic conference at the Mohegan Sun. More than 800 attendees are expected.
With more than 700 members from over a dozen countries, NAISA is the premier professional organization dedicated to supporting scholars and others who work in the academic field of Native American and Indigenous Studies.
“This event is really the singular place where scholars from various disciplines dedicated to Native Studies can come together for a comprehensive dialogue,” says N. Bruce Duthu, member of the NAISA Executive Host Committee, and chair of the Native American Studies Program and Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth. “In the past, people who worked in this area of study would attend gatherings about their respective fields. Now everyone with a common interest in the study of Native peoples has an organization to call their own.”
Dartmouth’s participation as a co-host of the 2012 NAISA Annual Meeting reflects a longstanding commitment to providing opportunities for Native Americans in higher education that dates back to its founding. According to the 1769 charter from King George III, the College was created “for the education and instruction of youth of the Indian tribes in this land … English Youth, and any others.”
Two hundred years later, John G. Kemeny, Dartmouth’s 13th president, reaffirmed the College’s mission of providing higher education opportunities for Native American students by establishing the Native American Program in1970 to recruit and mentor Native American and Indigenous students. Over the past 40 years, 885 Native American and Alaska Native students have graduated from Dartmouth, more than the total number at all the other Ivy League institutions combined, and today there are currently 185 Native American students at the College.
This year’s NAISA conference marks the fourth annual meeting and will feature more than 150 sessions with leading scholars on Native Studies from throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as from Australia, New Zealand and Central and South America. Special events include a poetry reading showcasing indigenous New England writers, a screening of We Still Live Here: Reawakening our Mother Tongues, a film about the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and a Strawberry Social hosted by the Mohegan Tribe at their Tribal Government and Community Center. For more details, please see the preliminary program.
“The sessions explore issues important to Indigenous people today, such as: economic development; health; language; legal status and protection of sites; and hunting and fishing and other subsistence rights, among others,” says J. Cedric Woods, co-chair of the NAISA Executive Host Committee and director of the Institute for New England Native American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
“By bringing together students and scholars dedicated to the study of the Native American and Indigenous peoples, we can positively transform scholarship and work together in our continued efforts towards Native empowerment,” says Kathryn Shanley, NAISA President 2011-2012 and professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana.