Welcome to the first ever episode of Pathways for People and Planet, a Core Pathways Podcast! This episode discusses Indigenous ways of thinking about and relating to the land. Topics include Indigenous stewardship of land, land back movements, Indigenous knowledge as it relates to the climate emergency, and land acknowledgements.
If you don’t have the time to listen all the way through, here are the locations of our specific questions within the episode:
Indigenous knowledge and movements are topics we had minimal familiarity with prior to this collaboration. Through our planning and involvement with this group and topic, we’ve established a better baseline understanding of historical and ongoing struggles and implications of Indigenous relationships to the land. We realize this is just the beginning of more thoughtful engagement with these issues. We also have come to understand the importance of pairing words with actions when it comes to engaging with Indigenous resistance movements. We hope this podcast can be a starting point for members of the Georgetown community, and beyond, who are seeking deeper consciousness of and involvement in the work of native people everywhere. We are extremely grateful to Abigail, Shelbi, and Cinthya for their continued and thoughtful guidance as we worked to intentionally create this podcast.
Abigail Hils moderated this conversation between Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner and Cinthya Ammerman Muñoz. Further information on our participants can be found below!
Abigail Hils (she/they):
Abigail Hils (she/they) is a Program Associate at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Inclusive STEM Ecosystems for Equity & Diversity. She is a mix of Niitsítapi (Blackfeet), Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk), and white. Hils’ research and work focus on catalyzing and sustaining systemic change and transformation to achieve inclusive and equitable access in the STEM workforce. Her areas of expertise are community/collaborative science, making science accessible and inclusive (language, disability status, and gender identity), and ecological monitoring methodologies. She also advises several organizations for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusive practices, culture, and policies.
Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner (she/her):
Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner (she/her/hers) is a Payómkawichum/Kúupangaxwichem (Luiseño/Cupeño) assistant professor of philosophy at Georgetown University. She is a first generation descendant of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians in San Diego County, California. Meissner’s areas of expertise are American Indian and Indigenous philosophy, feminist and non-western epistemology, and philosophy of language. Meissner teaches and writes about Indigenous knowledge and language systems, specifically how those systems relate to land, climate justice, sovereignty, resistance, memory, feminisms, intergenerational knowledge transmission, critical social work, and coalition-building. Meissner also consults on trauma and resilience-informed approaches to Indigenous pedagogy, decolonizing curriculum design, and tribal child welfare.
Cinthya Ammerman Muñoz (she/her):
Cinthya Ammerman Muñoz (PhD Native American Studies, University of California, Davis) is a multiheritage interdisciplinary scholar from Wallmapu, ancestral Mapuche homelands in southern Chile. She joined the Georgetown Humanities Initiative for the 2021–22 academic year as an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Emerging Voices postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Ammerman’s work centers on hemispheric relationality, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the American landscape to contest the imagined geopolitical boundaries of settler nation-states. Her dissertation “The ‘Dream of a Chilean California’ and the Colonization of Wallmapu” establishes largely neglected socioecological connections between Mapuche and California Native homelands, that foreground the intersection between the history of colonization and the current climate crisis.
This podcast is hosted by the Core Pathways Initiative, an initiative started out of the Red House, and housed at Georgetown University, that is focused on changing the core curriculum at the University. All Core Pathways courses and programming take place (either virtually or in person) physically situated in the original ancestral homelands of the Piscataway and Nacotchtank (Anacostan) people.
The lands within present-day Washington, DC have been occupied and cared for by the First Nations People since as early as 9,500 BCE. The Nacotchtank Tribe is most closely associated with the DC area, having lived on the eastern side of the Potomac River. The Nacotchtank Tribe was loosely associated with a larger confederation known as the Piscataway Chiefdom until English colonialists encroached on their lands. The nascent disease environment introduced by the colonizers proved deadly for the Nacotchank People, and eventually forced them to retreat to Anacostine Island (today’s Teddy Roosevelt Island) in the face of population decline. The Nacotchtank Tribe then solicited protection from the Piscataway Chiefdom and their remaining members were absorbed into the greater Piscataway Tribe. The Piscataway Tribe is now represented by the (1) Piscataway Indian Nation and Tayac Territory and the (2) Piscataway Conoy Tribe, both of which are recognized by the State of Maryland and remain active today.
As an organization that focuses on educational transformation, we acknowledge the role that we have played in supporting forms of knowledge that historically, currently, and continually devalue indigenous ways of knowing. Even as we strive to change current methods of learning at Georgetown University, we are complicit, both historically and today, in upholding colonized education systems that disappear Indigenous history and knowledge.
The Core Pathways Initiative acknowledges that the land on which we host our events was, and is, still inhabited and cared for by the Piscataway Conoy and Piscataway tribes. We are grateful for their past and continued stewardship of this land. The Piscataway and Piscataway Conoy tribes, especially their children, have powerful voices that have often been silenced throughout history.
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