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Date: June 10, 2008

Indigenous Historian Awarded UVic's Newest CRC

An historian who studies how settler societies have impacted Indigenous societies and how Indigenous nations can recover their traditional values is the University of Victoria’s newest Canada Research Chair.

Dr. Waziyatawin (pronounced Wah-ZEE-yah-tah-ween) joins UVic’s Indigenous Governance Program on July 1 as the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples.

“Through years of collaboration with Indigenous Peoples in Canada and elsewhere, UVic has become a North American leader in research related to governance and developing an understanding of how to redress the ways that Indigenous Peoples have been historically treated by the rest of society,” says Dr. Howard Brunt, UVic’s vice-president research. “This Canada Research Chair will build on those strengths.”

The Canada Research Chairs program is designed to attract the best talent from Canada and around the world, helping universities achieve research excellence in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

Waziyatawin, who is a Wahpetunwan Dakota from southwestern Minnesota, says that UVic’s Indigenous Governance Program was the only one in North America that she was interested in joining. “What drew me is the program’s intellectual commitment to Indigenous liberation and its dedication to personal decolonization and social action,” she says.

Waziyatawin’s research interests include Indigenous women and the struggle for social justice, the recovery of Indigenous knowledge, and truth-telling and reparative justice. She holds an MA and PhD in American history from Cornell University, and spent seven years teaching history at Arizona State University before leaving in 2007 to work as an independent scholar.

Waziyatawin is the author, editor or co-editor of four books, including In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors (2006) and Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities (2004), which addresses the contemporary issues that Indigenous people face at all levels of the academy.

“My work is grounded in Indigenous world views and values, especially from a Dakota perspective,” she says. “That perspective has fostered my deep respect for Indigenous knowledge and ways of being that can be seen in all of my research and writing.”

Waziyatawin’s research frequently challenges the institutions and systems of “settler society” which, she says, continue to oppress Indigenous Peoples in North America. British Columbia is no exception, she notes.

“Obviously, each Indigenous nation is unique with its own distinct culture and relationship to the land, but the historical experiences of Indigenous Peoples on both sides of the Canada-US border are remarkably similar,” she says.

“I am most interested in how colonialism has impacted Indigenous societies and how we can continue our resistance while maintaining or recovering the ways of being that allowed us to live sustainably for thousands of years prior to invasion.”

The latest round of Canada Research Chairs was announced in Ottawa today. Also included were two UVic chair renewals: Dr. Neena Chappell, Canada Research Chair in Social Gerontology, and Dr. Sara Ellison, Canada Research Chair in Observational Cosmology. The renewals are for seven- and five-year terms respectively.
Media contacts:
Waziyatawin is currently in Minnesota but available for phone interviews at 320-564-4241 or by email at waziyatawin@gmail.com
Valerie Shore (UVic Communications) at 250-721-7641 or vshore@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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