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New Center for Native and Indigenous Studies set to launch in fall 2023
Muscogee Nation group photo on emory campus

Emory College’s Center for Native and Indigenous Studies, launching in fall 2023, will deepen the university’s partnership with the College of the Muscogee Nation and expand innovative research and teaching in Indigenous Studies.

— Sarah Woods, Emory Photo/Video

Emory College of Arts and Sciences is set to launch a new Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies this fall to advance and inspire research, scholarship, teaching and learning rooted in and related to Indigenous studies.

Earlier this year, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Emory University and the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) in Oklahoma a $2.4 million grant to develop collaborative and independent programs advancing Native and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and the preservation of the Mvskoke language in a unique partnership between the two schools.

The new NAIS center will put into action the goals associated with the Mellon Foundation grant to build a strong partnership with CMN and support Emory’s evolving relationship with the Muscogee Nation, which includes the university’s land acknowledgment that it was founded on Muscogee land. 

Malinda Maynor Lowery, Cahoon Family Professor of American History and a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, will lead the center with support from Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Center for the Study of Race and Difference.

“The launch of the Center for Native and Indigenous Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences will further our partnership with the College of the Muscogee Nation,” says Lowery. “Emory has an incredible opportunity to learn from CMN’s degree program in Native American studies as we develop a new approach for scholarship, teaching and collaboration that centers Indigenous knowledge and values. This approach will advance cutting-edge scholarship and pedagogy in ways that will also promote an education that heals the trauma of dispossession and forced assimilation.”   

The initial work of the center will include welcoming Emory College’s first Distinguished Fellow in Indigenous Knowledge, Laura Harjo, a Mvskoke scholar and an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma who teaches Indigenous planning, community development and Indigenous feminism.

Harjo will work with Emory faculty to develop pedagogical approaches for the NAIS minor as well as facilitate a year-long faculty seminar focused on Indigeneity, including interdisciplinary scholars across both campuses.

Building on Emory’s existing Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, the center ultimately aims to build a vibrant intellectual community for faculty that supports research and teaching, as well as opportunities for students to engage with NAIS and indigenous communities throughout their four years, says Carla Freeman, interim dean of Emory College. 

“Working with professor Malinda Lowery and President Monte Randall of the College of the Muscogee Nation to launch this initiative is a profoundly meaningful collaboration,” says Freeman. “I have every expectation that Emory’s new Center for Native and Indigenous Studies will deepen our collective understanding of our past, draw upon new modes of knowledge creation and aesthetic expression, and enhance the intellectual life of faculty and students across humanistic and scientific fields of inquiry.

“The establishment of the Center draws upon the passionate engagement by faculty, students, staff and community members past and present,” Freeman continues. “I am proud that Emory is taking an important step to recognize and contribute to this dynamic academic arena.”

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