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Seminar 1: Indigenous Rhetorics: Clearing a Path for Meaningful, Responsible, Relational Practice

Primarily Synchronous (May 24-May 28)

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Seminar Leaders

Malea Powell, Michigan State University:
Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, Grand Valley State University:

This seminar will focus on the concepts, practices, and relations necessary for creating an Indigenous orientation to rhetorical scholarly practice. If you’re invested in teaching, studying, or working with Indigenous thinkers, writers, makers, or communities, this seminar will create space for practicing responsible relational engagement with the historical, embodied, material, and cultural knowledge-making traditions of Indigenous peoples in North America. At least part of our time together will be spent thinking about how Indigenous rhetorical practices work to “make” meaning for Indigenous cultures and communities (tribal and pantribal) as well as how those practices can be in conversation with rhetoric studies as a discipline.

Since Indigenous knowledge is immersive and relational, participants can expect an experiential and hands-on approach to engaging with the topics and materials for the seminar. You bring your own interests to the table. We’ll organize some readings and experiences. Together, we’ll spend our days working to understand and practice relational accountability (Wilson 2008), the common pot (Brooks 2008), and mapping Indigenous practices (Erdrich 2003, Simpson 2014, Brooks 2008, Kimmerer 2013). Collectively we’ll work to understand and locate the histories and intellectual practices of the Indigenous peoples from the region where we’ll be gathering—the people of the Northeast and the Great Lakes; we’ll engage with work produced by Indigenous scholars who locate themselves in Rhetorical Studies (Driskill 2016, Haas 2008, King 2017, Anderson 2018, Weiser 2017, etc.), Native American & Indigenous Studies scholars who locate themselves in other disciplines (Brooks 2018, Simpson 2018, Konkle 2004, etc.), and engage with knowledge-makers who are not in academia (for example, the Onaman Collective, Idle No More, #NODAPL, or local activist groups.) Additionally, we will set aside time to make things together—a story share, beadwork, or wampum making.

By weaving the scholarship within Indigenous rhetorics and Indigenous studies with the actual histories and spaces of Indigenous people, our work together will offer all participants the opportunity to craft an understanding of Indigenous rhetorics, an understanding about what it would mean to adapt an Indigenous-oriented scholarly practice, and a path to carry this knowledge forward in their own work as scholars, teachers, and human beings.

Malea Powell Malea Powell is Professor of Research in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University where she is a faculty member in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. She is editor of College Composition and Communication, lead organizer of the Cultural Rhetorics conference, director of the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium, founding editor of constellations: a journal of cultural rhetorics, past chair of the CCCC, and editor emerita of SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures. A widely published scholar and poet, her current book project, This Is A Story, examines the continuum of indigenous rhetorical production in North America, from beadwork to alphabetic writing. Powell is a mixed-blood of Indiana Miami, Eastern Shawnee, and Euroamerican ancestry. In her spare time, she hangs out with her grand-daughters and with other Native aunties, artists, poets, and healers, and does beadwork.


Andrea Riley-Mukavetz Andrea Riley-Mukavetz is an Assistant Professor of Integrative Studies at Grand Valley State University where she teaches courses in intercultural communication, story as methodology, interdisciplinary research methods, and dialogue. She received her PhD (2012) from Michigan State University in indigenous and cultural rhetorics and has published in College Composition and Communication (June 2020), Composition Studies (2018), SAIL (2018), enculturation (2014, 2016), and Rhetoric, Professional Communication, and Globalization (2014). Her research interests are cultural rhetorics, decolonial theory, community-engaged research, and Anishinaabeg contemporary rhetorical theory. Additionally, she is the co-founder and co-organizer of the Cultural Rhetorics Conference and the editor of the Pedagogy Blog for constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space. Andrea is a citizen of the Deshkan Ziibiing Anishinaabek (Chippewa of Thames First Nation) and of Chaldean and Lebanese ancestries. In her spare time, she gardens, makes ribbon skirts, spends time at Lake Michigan, and hangs out with her family and community.  

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