Indigenizing universities

Patty Loew talks about Indigenizing universities. Plus writer Rita Pyrillis explains Indigenous musicians.

Patty Loew is a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

She's a citizen of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Lowe is also a documentary producer and former broadcast journalist. 

Patty is the award-winning author of three books including Native People of Wisconsin, which is used by 15,000 Wisconsin school children. She joins us today to talk about Indigenizing universities.

Orchestras are broadening the definition of classical music--to embrace works by Native American composers. An article in Symphony Magazine by Cheyenne River writer Rita Pyrillis explains how Indigenous musicians express their traditions in a western framework. 

Plus Stewart Huntington has more on an Alaskan village seeking the return of its ancestral lands. If you or someone you know has a story about boarding schools, click the link to tell us more.
Help us find the answers to what has happened to these lands. 

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are out and now some people are being told they can take off that face covering. 
  • The CDC estimates there are 17 million adolescents in the country and now those children between 12 and 15 can get vaccinated. 
  • In Tuba City in northern Arizona, one man is capturing the impact of the pandemic through his camera lens. 
  • The incoming leader of the University of Alaska Anchorage has a controversial history with tribes.
  • Small museums and private institutions that accepted federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains.
  • The pandemic is creating Oklahoma’s first brewery owned by Native Americans 

Some quotes from today's show 

Patty Lowe 

“I think when most universities look around, they're thinking in terms of color, do we have black faces? What about brown faces? What about red faces? We have enough Asian-Americans, but they're not really committed to the diversity of worldview. And, and so, the Ph.D.s that are hired are expected to conform to academic standards, which are published or perish. And I have never gone into Indian country. When asked, you know, what can I do? What can I say, how can I help this community nobody's ever said. Patty, we need a peer reviewed journal article in a top tier research journal, I think there's a disconnect there”.

“So it does make a difference when people of color are in leadership positions. The problem is sometimes there are so few of us that when we do wind up in leadership positions, we're the only ones. And then, you know, we wind up being overextended because it's either will you accept this appointment to this committee? And will you serve on that committee? And if we say, yes, we're just really spreading ourselves too thin. If we say no, then it means that our community doesn't have a voice. So it's really a trap in some cases”.

Rita Pyrillis

"I think what really struck me is that we know orchestras are a very predominantly white Eurocentric institution. And one of them we're one of the least diverse arts organizations and yet native composers right now are having a pretty big moment where orchestras are commissioning more work than ever before from native composers. And what the composers bring is their identities as native people. They're bringing themselves fully to the orchestra world and expressing indigenous worldview expressing the stories of their families, the stories of their lands the stories of their ancestors in a way that is, that is well uniquely indigenous and and an interest in their pieces is, is growing. Orchestras are also traditionally, highly competitive, not very collaborative environments at times, difficult to break into. And so it's been really heartening and inspiring and just really interesting for me to kind of get a glimpse into that world and how, and see how native people are navigating it”.

"It's a bridge, you know, it's a path to healing not just you know, healing communities and bridging communities. But also, you know, it's a path for healing for the composers themselves. And I think one of the most inspiring parts of the story for me was talking with some of the young people that have been involved in like the native American composers academy”.

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

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