Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium
17th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium 2022
The purpose of the Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium is to honor the life and continue the work of one of the nation’s foremost authors, scholars, and intellectuals who passed away on November 13, 2005. Throughout his life Deloria maintained ties with friends, tribes, and institutions in the Northwest. One of his final public appearances was as the plenary speaker at the Robert K. Thomas Symposium held in 2005 at Northwest Indian College. Following this event he expressed his desire to make the college the site of a yearly symposium in indigenous studies. It is with this mandate in mind that we not only seek to carry out his wishes, but also to name the symposium in his honor.
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2022 17th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium Details:
This year’s Symposium will be in a duel-modality with restricted in-person attendance (based on pandemic guidelines), we will have ample virtual attendance with details forthcoming. The Symposium will be recorded and available afterward.
The 17th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium will focus on Tribal College Origin Stories: The Origin Story of Northwest Indian College. The inspiration for this year’s theme comes from two books, Indians of the Pacific Northwest: From the Coming of the White Man to the Present Day by Deloria Jr, Frank, and Pavlik 2016 and Power & Place: Indian Education in America by Vine Deloria, Jr. & Daniel Wildcat 2001. In addition, this year’s Symposium is carrying on the work from the 16th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium, which focuses on Indian Education and exploring further. The VDS planning committee would like to clarify the goal of this year’s Symposium is to hold space for the appropriate people to come forward and tell the NWIC origin story. We recognize this is the start of this work and want to support this as it continues to grow.
Power & Place: Indian Education in America by Vine Deloria, Jr. & Daniel Wildcat inspired the work done in the 2021 Symposium as we looked at the struggles, progress, and successes in Indian Education. We recognized this work was not complete and have carried the intention of looking at Indian Education into this year with a deeper focus. We do this with inspiration from “…a simple equation: Power and Place produce personality. This equation simply means that the universe is alive, but it also contains within it the very important suggestion that the universe is personal and, therefore, must be approached in a personal manner.” (Deloria Jr. & Wildcat, 2001, 23). Deloria discusses the importance of relationships as an intricate factor in one’s ability to determine how this world should function. He states, “Completing the relationship focuses the individual’s attention on the results of their actions. Thus, the Indian people were concerned about the products of what they did, and they sought to anticipate and consider all possible effects of their actions” (IBID). This year we wanted to follow through and put these words into action. Therefore, we focused our attention on the founding institution of the Symposium, the Northwest Indian College, to understand the previous relationships and open the door to start an exploration of the origin of NWIC.
Each year the co-coordinators of the Symposium do various rounds of visiting and listening with elders, community members, and scholars that contribute to and mold the theme for the upcoming Symposium. A common element came through this year due to our visiting rounds. That was to continue looking at Indian Education. This year we are exceptionally inspired by our elder Tom Sampson (Coast Salish, WSANEC, Tsartlip First Nation; Nez Perce), a long-time Symposium speaker, attendee, and consultant. During a visit with Tom, he echoed similar words from Power & Place to continually reflect on “what you said you would do, what are you doing now, and what do you need to do in the future .” In this conversation, Tom referred to the “we” as any group of people, be it a college, Symposium, or tribe. So we determined this was an ideal time to do some reflecting.
The other essential inspiration for this year’s Symposium theme comes from Indians of the Pacific Northwest: From the Coming of the White Man to the Present Day. During our visiting rounds, the comments we heard also inspired this year’s theme. People discussed the complex history of NWIC and the Lummi tribe. The Indians of the Pacific Northwest was initially published in 1977 and was seen as the first text that rectified many lies and misconceptions about PNW tribes. As a part of this text, Deloria provides an overview of various devastating ramifications of European migration and settlement into territories and the effects on Northwest Indian Tribes starting in the 1850s. We took inspiration from the content, which provides some insight into the shared struggles, hardships, and barriers PNW tribes were facing in adapting to the education systems. In addition, Deloria specifically highlights the Lummi Day School and the foundational actions to form the Lummi Indian School of Aquaculture. This text also inspires this year’s theme as Deloria reiterates, “For the Indian tribes of the Pacific Northwest it has always been—and will always be—about survival” (Deloria Jr, Frank, and Pavlik 2016, 160). We recognize this is a similar contributing factor to establishing many tribal colleges to help Indian people survive. In addition, the passion and perseverance of tribal people, especially the Lummi, to educate their own as a means of survival leads us to focus on those involved in the history of NWIC.
This year, we seek to reflect on the past to understand how we got here as a Symposium. More importantly, we want to recognize and honor the relationships, perseverance, and passion that went into creating what is now known today as the Northwest Indian College. As a result of this process, we want to celebrate and acknowledge the heroic acts of courage, survival, and sacrifice. This year we are trying to put the words of Dr. Deloria, Jr., Dr. Wildcat, and Mr. Sampson into action. We are looking to the past in hopes it will provide us strength today to help us plan the bright future our ancestors wanted for us all.
“Traditional education gives us an orientation to the world around us, particularly the people around us, so that we know who we are and have confidence when we do things. Traditional knowledge enables us to see our place and our responsibility within the movement of history.” -Vine Deloria, Jr.
NWIC students are encouraged to engage and integrate into the life of the institution. Students are offered opportunities to participate in enrichment activities through Student Affairs, student government, and residence life.
Northwest Indian College administers a broad range of financial aid, scholarships, and work-study programs for students who can demonstrate financial need.
NWIC Extended Campus Locations
Northwest Indian College‘s main campus is located at the Lummi Nation. The College also has six full service extended campus sites located at Muckleshoot, Nez Perce, Nisqually, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Swinomish, and Tulalip. Please use the location links to view details for each extended campus site.