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Tulane University

In Spring 2021, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South (NOCGS) will host the 3rd Annual Indigenous Symposium, Being Native Today: Indigenous Identities in the Gulf South. This year, activists, authors, and scholars will discuss how land and language affect Native identity from the past to present and the future.

Indigenous identity in the Gulf South is informed by several factors within and beyond the control of individuals. Colonial settlers interacted and heavily depended upon the Tribal nations in the Lower MS River Valley for protection, trade goods, and food among other items. A complicated relationship that evolved throughout the 18th century took a distinct turn in the 19th century with the Louisiana Purchase, the arrival of Americans and the expansion of slavery. Different Indigenous nations of this area made different decisions on how to confront these changing circumstances. Some Tribes chose to withdraw into the bayous and waterways of Southern Louisiana and isolate themselves while others migrated further West to give but two examples of strategies employed. How have the actions and reactions of different Tribes to different historical forces shaped identity? How does it inform their decisions today?  

This symposium will create a space to listen to Tribal members directly as they discuss what it means to be Indigenous today both in terms of identity and of belonging. Dr. Laura D. Kelley, Co-Chair and one of the organizers of the conference is excited to see this symposium grow and evolve over the last three years. “There is a strong interest by the public to learn more about the importance of First Nations to the history and cultural heritage of this area and a subject that has been neglected far too long. Having a forum for audience members to be able to listen and to learn more about the numerous Native communities in and around this area is a great opportunity for all and we look forward to seeing the Indigenous Symposium continue for many more years to come.”  

This event will be free and open to the public. For more information, contact Regina Cairns at (504) 314-2854 or  

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