March 20, 2020 8:30 AM to 5:00 PMUptown Campus
What makes someone Native American? How has Native identity changed over time? For many Indigenous peoples, their identities have always been self-evident, and are grounded in generations long relationships to lands, waters, and other Indigenous communities.
New Orleans Center for the Gulf South invites you to the 3rd Annual Indigenous Symposium, Being Native Today: Indigenous Identities in the Gulf South. This conference will seek to foster conversations about identities among Indigenous nations today. Speakers will discuss Tribal communities and identity during the colonial to the modern era and what factors have shaped the lives of the diverse Native nations of the Gulf South.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most people in North America understood Native people as part of sovereign, autonomous, Indigenous nations, and Native people did not primarily use racial ideologies to talk about their identities. However, the American Republic expanded in the early nineteenth century, and racist policies, promoting expansionist U.S. settler colonialism, increasingly impacted Indigenous people. Federal policy makers endeavored to convert these pre-existing, yet “foreign” Native nations into racial minorities within the American empire through concepts of blood quantum and scientific racism.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, federal policies both forcibly included and, simultaneously, systematically excluded Native people from participation within the nation. Over the last century, these regulations became ever more complicated as the Federal Government began to question and to arbitrarily decide on the criteria that qualified and determined Indian identity. This process evolved over time and was codified in 1978 with the formation of the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and accompanied by the creation of the Federal Recognition Process. This process demanded that Indian Nations meet seven distinct criteria in order to be federally recognized. This process quickly proved to be cumbersome and another burden by which Indians were forced to prove their own identity to an outside entity for approval and validation.
For Native people who ground their identities in traditional concepts of kinship, US federal frameworks have created many challenges, and they have also led to the development of two, largely separate, conversations about Indigenous identities among Native and non-Indigenous people. In the wake of these exclusionary and discriminatory twentieth century policies, Tribal Nations also began to re-evaluate their criteria as to who belonged or did not in their nation. The centrality of race, blood, and biology in federal policy has also shaped how some Native people identify who belongs, and these inherent tensions have manifested in recent years in conflicts within Native communities. This conference aims to bridge these conversations and to highlight the less well-known perspectives of Indigenous scholars, artists, and community members on these issues.
Through dialogues with different members of Tribal Nations, this symposium seeks to address these dynamic components of Indian identity and open a conversation about the variety of ways in which diverse Native peoples understand what it means to be Indigenous today.
Co-sponsors for the event include: The Murphy Institute Tulane University, Center for Public Service Tulane, Department of Anthropology Tulane University
For more information, https://indigenoussymposium.tulane.edu/.
Photo: Emery Billiot, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe; Photo Credit: Patrick Bresnan
Program Committee: Rebecca Snedeker, Executive Director New Orleans Center for the Gulf South Laura D. Kelley, Ph.D., Adj. Professor & Director Dublin Study Abroad, Tulane University Denise Frazier, Ph.D., Assistant Director New Orleans Center for the Gulf South John Barbry, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Elizabeth N. Ellis, Ph.D., New York University, Citizen of Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma Judith Maxwell, Ph.D., Anthropology, Tulane University Chris Rodning, Ph.D., Anthropology Tulane University Maura Sullivan, Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation Ph.D. Student, Linguistics, Tulane University