Native American Studies

‘A Monumental Step’ in Reclaiming a California Indigenous Language

For his graduate research comparing languages around the world, Lewis Lawyer couldn’t find a single published reference book on Patwin, an endangered language once spoken in hundreds of Northern California communities, including what is now Davis. So, on his way to completing his UC Davis doctorate, Lawyer wrote one. With the release of "A Grammar of Patwin," the findings of his dissertation are now available to scholars as well as to Patwin/Wintun people working to revitalize their ancestral language.

Graduate Student Symposium Celebrates Indigenous Scholarship Around the Globe

To celebrate and connect Indigenous activist-researchers across the hemisphere, UC Davis Department of Native American Studies graduate students are holding their ninth annual research symposium April 26-29. The theme this year is “From Red Power to Wallmapu Libre and Land Back” and the event will feature a lineup of Indigenous scholars and activists, as well as 25 graduate student researchers from UC Davis and beyond who represent a multitude of disciplines and collaborate with numerous Indigenous communities.

The Nature of the Humanities

Through a rich and interwoven mix of the humanities — literature, human rights, ethnic studies, art — UC Davis faculty and students are deepening the world’s understanding of climate change and its lasting grip on the human experience.

Recent graduate Jumana Esau (B.A., English, ’20) combined her passions for literary scholarship and human rights to explore climate change and its impact on overlooked and vulnerable populations. Her honors thesis examines African futuristic works in climate fiction.

Rethinking Wildfire: Cultural Burning and the Art of Not Fighting Fire

Devastating wildfires raging across California this year have been perceived mostly as a destructive force. But prior to European arrival in California, Native Americans used fire as a restorative land management technique that cleared underbrush and encouraged new plant growth.

The practice of “cultural burning” is being explored at UC Davis by students and faculty in collaboration with tribes through the Native American studies course “Keepers of the Flame.” 

Alumna Anthropologist and Media Scholar Receives MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

UC Davis alumna Mary L. Gray, an anthropologist and media scholar who investigates how labor, identity and human rights are transformed by the digital economy, has been named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow. Gray (B.A., anthropology and Native American studies, ’92) is one of 21 fellows announced Oct. 6 by the MacArthur Foundation.

Two Alumni Named ACLS Emerging Voices Fellows

Two alumni scholars who use digital media to help Indigenous communities recover their history and ancestral language have been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies as inaugural Emerging Voices Fellows.

The Show Goes On

UC Davis College of Letters and Science graduate students aren’t letting the lack of a physical space stop them from celebrating and sharing their work with the public. The Arts & Humanities 2020 Graduate Exhibition, usually held at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, will instead take place on the museum website May 28–June 28.

NAS Colloquium Explores Environmental Justice, Academic Activism and Other Topics

The UC Davis Department of Native American Studies Colloquium Series continues during the winter and spring quarters. The talks are held from noon to 1 p.m. in Hart Hall, Room 3201. Jan. 9

“Environmental Justice in Indian Country”
Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes), director and senior research associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies and American Indian studies professor at CSU San Marcos.