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16th Annual Vine Deloria Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium 2021  Through the eyes of their ancestors: revitalizing intergenerational knowledge to connect to power, place, and personality


The Theme

The focus for 2021


Power & Place: Through the eyes of their ancestors: revitalizing intergenerational knowledge to connect to power, place, and personality.


A Place Based Agenda 

Making Connections to Place in the Agenda


The Symposium originates and broadcasts from the ancestral lands of the Lhaq’temish people. The program recognizes the 13 Moons Calendar and the significance of seasonality and presence of Camas and Wild Onion in Coast Salish Territory. 

Virtually hosted by the Northwest Indian College – Lummi Nation in collaboration with Children of the Setting Sun Productions

The Agenda

Framing the Agenda

 The agenda features thirty-two speakers from across Indian country.  The Northwest Indian College Guiding values and beliefs frame this program:
Sәla-lexʷ: Our strength comes from the old people. From them we receive our teachings and knowledge and the advice we need for our daily lives.
Schtәngәxʷәn: We are responsible to protect our territory. This means we take care of our land and water and everything that is on it and in it.
Xwlәmi-chosәn: Our culture is our language. We should strengthen and maintain our language.
Leng-e-sot: We take care of ourselves, watch out for ourselves and love and take care of one another.
Xaalh: Life balance/sacred
VDS 2022 Speaker

Celebrating & Reflecting 

Highlights of the Symposium 

We acknowledge and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication for Power & Place Indian Education in America by Vine Deloria, Jr. and Daniel R. Wildcat.  We feature Dr. Danial Wildcat to reflect on the effect his book has had over the last 20 years.  

We focus on the journey and history of the Vine Deloria, Jr. Library Collection housed at NWIC. We also recognize and honor the work of Senator John McCoy on the Washington State Legislature- Since Time Immemorial Curriculum.  We feature over eighteen different panels and sessions both recorded live and pre-recorded with thirty-eight speakers.



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.
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