Events to Mark Recommitment to Native American Education

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The lawyer in a major lawsuit over Indian trust funds will speak next week.

Room in the Hood Museum with various items including beaded boots on exhibit
“This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World” will be on view through July 23. (Photo by Rob Strong)

Former Ambassador Keith Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, will visit Dartmouth next week for a conversation about human rights, one of a series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dartmouth’s recommitment to the education of Native American and Indigenous students.

“Promoting Human Rights in an Increasingly Challenging and Autocratic World” is set for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Kreindler Conference Hall (Haldeman Hall 41), and will also be livestreamed. The moderator will be Victoria K. Holt, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

The first Native American to be named an ambassador in the United States, Harper served as U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council from 2014 to 2017.

Keith Harper
(Photo courtesy of Keith Harper)

Harper represented a plaintiff class of 500,000 Native Americans in a landmark lawsuit over the mismanagement of Indian trust funds by the federal government that was settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion.

Currently, he is a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block and a senior nonresident fellow at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. He also is senior adviser to the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative, which works to promote justice, economic opportunity, and human dignity.

While at Dartmouth, Harper will also visit a class, “Federal Indian Law,” taught by Bruce Duthu ’80, chair of the Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies.

“Ambassador Harper is a luminary in the field of Federal Indian law,” according to Duthu. “We look forward to his discussion on Brackeen v. Haaland, a major case coming before the U.S. Supreme Court next fall that involves a constitutional challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and related questions about the reach of federal power in Indian affairs.”

Dartmouth celebrates 50+ years of the Native American Program

The events are co-sponsored by the Native American and Indigenous Studies and the Dickey Center. They are among the activities sponsored by various departments marking the 50th anniversary of the steps Dartmouth took relating to the education of Native American and Indigenous students, which included the launching of the Native American Studies Program.

Along with Harper’s appearance, events scheduled for this term include:

  • April 7: Convening: Re-envisioning Histories of American Art, panel discussions with contributors to an upcoming catalogue related to the exhibit “This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World,” Hood Museum of Art, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • April 21-22: In the Court of the Conqueror, a solo show by writer, performance artist, and social justice activist George Emilio Sanchez, looks at 200 years of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have diminished the tribal sovereignty of Native nations, 7:30 p.m., Hopkins Center for the Arts.
  • April 28: The Urgency of Indigenous Fiction, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) ’76, and Bruce Duthu (Houma) ’80, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies, discuss contemporary Indigenous writing, 8 p.m., online.
  • May 7-8: annual Powwow on the Green, May 7; annual Luau, May 8. The weekend events will serve as a gathering point for a reunion of Native and Indigenous Dartmouth alumni.
  • May 25: Conversations and Connections: Unbroken, a discussion with Dillen Peace (Diné) ’19 and Sháńdíín Brown (Diné) ’20, about the exhibition they co-curated, “Unbroken: Native American Ceramics, Sculpture, and Design,” 12:30-1:30 p.m., Hood Museum of Art.
  • May 26: Unbroken: Native American Ceramics, Sculpture, and Design, a workshop for adults, will explore the concepts of continuity and innovation in the exhibitions “Unbroken” and “Form and Relation,” 6-7:30 p.m., Hood Museum of Art.
Aimee Minbiole