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Indigenous students’ work to be featured in 15th annual research symposium

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Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez is a first-year graduate student in the College of the Environment and a member of the Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars. The group is hosting its 15th annual indigenous research symposium, titled "Scholarship as Resistance: Indigenous Research Unsettling the Academy."

The Native Organization of Indigenous Scholars (NOIS) will be holding its 15th annual research symposium, “Scholarship as Resistance: Indigenous Research Unsettling the Academy,” beginning 9 a.m. Friday at the wǝɫǝbʔaltxw Intellectual House.

NOIS was founded in 2001 with the mission of increasing awareness of the research, work, and achievements of indigenous scholars at the UW. The research symposium is a chance for graduate and professional students to share their research with the greater campus community. 

“This is such a great opportunity for graduate students to get their work out there,” said Patrick Lozar, co-president of NOIS. “They are doing active research in which they can present to discipline-specific conferences all over, but this is something here where they can get their work out to the public to be visible.”

Lozar has been with the organization for three years. Starting as a member and regularly attending meetings, the third-year graduate student eventually wanted a more active role within NOIS, and has since been working to increase its awareness and presence on campus. 

Jessica Hernandez is a product of active recruiting, joining NOIS this year as a first-year master’s and postdoctoral student in the College of the Environment. NOIS helps students like Hernandez adjust to a large campus environment by providing a safe place to come together and focus on research and studies that affect indigenous people. 

“They have been a supportive group,” Hernandez said. “That’s something as graduate students we sometimes need, especially in a big campus like the UW. … If you want to feel at home you have to travel two hours to be with a tribe, but having coworkers and colleagues that are at the same level, it’s very helpful.”

In addition to providing a welcoming and open environment that is accessible for graduate, professional, and undergraduate students, NOIS also invites guests to share their research and experience as indigenous professionals.

The research symposium will host Jennifer Nez Denetdale as the keynote speaker. An associate professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico, Denetdale is the first-ever Diné, Navajo person to earn a Ph.D. in history. She strives to foster academic excellence for students studying Native history and culture. 

Denetdale’s recent book, “Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita,” explores her family history — she is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Chief Manuelito — and the broader issues in Navajo historiography.

“It’s inspiring because, in any field usually when you get a guest speaker, you can’t relate to them aside from your field of study,” Hernandez said. “I feel like, in some ways, when we have a career panel or a diversity panel, most of the speakers are not indigenous, and having a keynote speaker who has been successful is kind of breaking those barriers for other students and myself.”

NOIS hopes to inspire the greater UW community with students’ work and Denetdale’s words. The symposium is sponsored by the department of American Indian Studies, the Canadian Studies Center, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, and the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program. The event will provide free lunch to attendees and will feature nine other presenters aside from the keynote speaker. 

“[We want to] emphasize this movement in academia to indigenise the academy, decolonize methodologies in the humanities and the social science — actually disciplines all across campus — and to try to capture that and assert it in our own way, in our own campus community,” Lozar said.


Reach Sports Editor Alexis Mansanarez at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @almansanarez

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