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Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium

Home > About NWIC > 2021 Vine Deloria Jr. Indigenous Studies Virtual Symposium – VDS

16th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Virtual Symposium 2021

Mission Statement

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.

Ranalda Tsosie, Navajo, 2019 VDS Speaker

Ranalda Tsosie, Navajo, 2019 VDS Speaker


Victoria Walsey-Honanie

Vine Deloria Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium Co-Coordinator

Work Phone: (360) 392-4267


Emma Norman

Vine Deloria Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium Co-Coordinator

Work Phone: (360) 392-4309

2021 16th Annual Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium Theme:

Connecting to Power, Place, and Personality and Revitalizing Intergenerational Knowledge

The challenges we have lived through over the last year have forced us to reevaluate how we connect to a place and find our power to move forward. American Indians had faced difficult and challenging times before and persevered. One of the biggest challenges today is maintaining and building connections using technology that separates us, but brings us together. According to Vine Deloria Jr. in Power and Place: Indian Education in America, “…Power and place produce personality” (Deloria & Wildcat 2001, 23). If we think about this through the lens of education, we see how influential a place can be on personality. So, we ask how can we maintain our personality when we are separated from important places that help us socialize, work, or practice ceremony.  We lean on our ancestors’ words and find strength in the teachings that will guide us through these challenging times to adapt and ultimately move the next generation forward.  

A teacher’s job is to impart wisdom, and this is true of an elder.  Deloria discusses intergenerational knowledge and the role of elders who “…are basically reporting on their experiences or on the experiences of their elders” (Deloria & Wildcat 2000, 22).  These elders describe knowledge living in the world based on their lived experiences, including “..very accurate knowledge of the lands they inhabited and the plants, animals, and other life-forms that shared their environment” (21).  Deloria also discusses the importance of Power and place “Here power and place are dominant concepts–power being the living energy that inhabits and/or composes the universe, and place being the relationship of things to each other” (Ibid 22).  This year we reflect on these words from Deloria and Wildcat and others to look forward as we overcome these challenging times like so many before us.   The theme is based on the book,  Deloria, Vine, Vine Deloria Jr, and Daniel Wildcat. 2001. Power and Place: Indian Education in America. Fulcrum Publishing.

CEU Credits will be available for the Symposium, more information can be found here about CEU credits.

Tom Sampson, Tsartlip First Nation, 2019 VDS Speaker

Tom Sampson, Tsartlip First Nation, 2019 VDS Speaker

Past Events

Vine Deloria, Jr. Symposium 2019

Vine Deloria, Jr. Symposium 2018

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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.

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