Georgetown University Resources

Support for Indigenous students, supporters, and scholars on campus

In 2020, Georgetown’s Anthropology Department hosted a webinar: IRONIES OF HISTORY AND SOVEREIGNTY,  FEATURING: Tristan Sam (Diné [Navajo]), President, Native American Student Council; Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner (Luiseño/Cupeño) Assistant Professor, Dept. of Philosophy; Bette Jacobs (Cherokee, Shoshone), Professor, Health Systems Administration, co-convenor Indigenous Studies. For event resources, contact

Our Fall 2020 “Coffee and Conversation” series led by Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner (Luiseño/Cupeño) included a Dec. 3, 4-5:15 discussion on “Salvage Anthropology, NAGPRA, and Repatriation.”  It highlighted “Mesa Verde ancestors repatriated after 130 years,” an episode of Native American Calling that features interviews with several Tribal leaders and the US ambassador to Finland as they detail the decades-long process involved in the recent returning of ancestors stolen by a Finish researcher almost 130 years ago: (new window) . On Nov. 19,  4-5:15 discussion was on Philip Deloria’s zinger written for Thanksgiving in the New Yorker — (new window) On Nov. 2, discussion was based on the podcast “When Two Sovereigns Collide,” featuring Matthew Fletcher and Winona Single, law professors at Michigan State University. They beautifully explain Tribal sovereignty in the US context. (new window).

Course Syllabi

The following are sample syllabi for courses in Indigenous Studies and related areas available for undergraduate and graduate students at Georgetown.

CULP 375 “Indigenous Peoples, Conflict and Resilience” 

Spring ‘19 team-taught CBL course by Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer, Faculty Fellow Berkley Center (; Bette Jacobs, Distinguished Professor of Health Administration ( Mondays, 3:30-6PM, in Car Barn 303

What is Indigeneity? What can we understand about resilience among peoples who maintain their distinct identities with a place of origin and their associated bonds and traditions in the face of conquest and colonization? This course enables broad examination of issues facing indigenous peoples, with particular experiential study of tribes in the Western Hemisphere. Opportunities for deep dive learning about indigenous groups in other places of special student interest are provided. Native communities process various kinds of globalization, marginality and colonial legacies with different degrees of self-determination, land-based sovereignty, dispute and resistance. While indigenous peoples may be lumped together as the “fourth world,” their social, economic, political and cultural revitalization conditions vary widely in “glocal” contexts. Activist efforts at various levels of local, regional, state and global interactions reveal case studies of progress and on-going tensions. We debate U.N. statements on indigeneity, U.S. federal or state recognition variations, and concepts of identity within First Nations communities. The course is designed to enhance student understanding of multi-disciplinary, practical, ethical and human rights synergies within indigenous studies. An important focus is on student direct experience with indigenous organizations, in partnerships for mutual benefit and learning. Particular attention is paid to American Indian communities, with international comparisons. Hot issues where student participation may be welcome include ecology protest; health services; legal groundwork for sacred lands claims, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (new window) [NAGPRA] logistics, language revitalization and prison justice. The course builds on and is interactive with our indigenous studies website: (new window)

Eligibility: The class is open to undergraduates in SFS, especially CULP, and Anthropology, with no prerequisites, just enthusiasm. Students from other departments and centers are also welcome. Students interested in Community Based Learning (CBL) and Georgetown’s Diversity initiatives are especially encouraged.

CBL Seminar, Credit and Structure: This 3 credit course fulfills normal SFS and College expectations. It is part of the Center for Social Justice Community Based Learning (new window) faculty cohort that supports active student-community partnerships. Once a week class seminars are augmented by student involvement in community placements for 20 hours per semester. Flexible scheduling enables faculty and CBL staff to help with student projects in specific indigenous-based environments, using outstanding Washington DC area resources for national and international representation. These include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, National Indian Educational Association (new window) (P St. based), National Congress of American Indians (new window), National Indian Health Board , and more. We anticipate small group placements, with some possible individual arrangements. In the final weeks we share reports on experiential learning as well as engaging in overarching theme discussions and debates.

Advising: Mentoring is tailored to the students who constitute the class. While most advising is done in person, some communication can be through zoom, skype, and other interactive tools. Writing Center (217a Lauinger) (new window) use is encouraged.

Grading: Grades are based on a combination of class participation (discussions and debates) [30%], a short essay due just after Spring break [10%], a ‘research and experience’ report in the class [20%], and a finale paper that incorporates class themes and the community project [40%].

Readings and films: Most readings will be articles, documents, or chapters in books, not whole books. Electronic versions will be available for many assignments. Together we will augment and update the recommended reading and film lists on our (new window) website. Student contributions relevant to community projects are especially important. A few core yet diverse books or parts of books are required for shared interpretations. These include:

Brown, Michael 2003 Who Owns Native Culture? (new window) Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [+ Brown’s supplemental teaching materials.] 0674016335 paper [Chpts 4, 5, 6, 8.]

Deloria, Vine, Jr. 2003 God is Red (new window). Golden, CO: Fulcrum. 30 th anniversary edition.  [Chpt 3, 16.] 1555914985 paper. [Note also his classic Deloria, Vine [1969 or later] Custer Died for Your Sins (new window). U. of Oklahoma.]

Erdrich, Louise 1998 The Antelope Wife (new window) New York: Harper Collins. Novel. [Note also LaRose (new window). 2016 Harper, especially 187-202.]

La Duke, Winona 2015 Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming (new window). Chicago: Haymarket, 2nd edition. [Note also Last Standing Woman (new window) 1997 or other editions.]

Simpson, Audra and Smith, Andrea, eds. 2014 Theorizing Native Studies (new window). Durham, London: Duke University Press. [Especially Intro, Chpt. 10 (Vera Palmer)] 9780822356790

Suzack, Cheryl 2017 Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law (new window). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. [Especially Intro, Chpt. 3 and 4].

Tidwell, Alan, Zellen, Barry, eds. 2016 Land, Indigenous People and Conflict (new window). New York: Routledge. [Intro, selected chapters.]

ANTH 387: “Indigenous Peoples, Conflict and Resilience”

Open to undergraduates in Anthropology and SFS, as well as to MA students of the Conflict Resolution studies program. Students from various departments and centers are welcome, with no prerequisites, just enthusiasm. This course is part of the Doyle Engaging Difference Program.

On-Campus Organizations

Native American Student Council

The NASC, under the banner of the Center for Social Justice—Research, Teaching, and Service, promotes awareness of and interest in Native cultures in the DC-Metro area. It also serves as a conduit for Native American students and their allies to discuss Native cultures, tribal affairs, and governmental policies affecting Native American communities across the United States.

Native American Law Students Association

The Georgetown Law School chapter of NALSA promotes the study of Federal Indian law and traditional forms of governance while providing support to Native students on campus.

Departmental and Organizational Resources

In addition to individual faculty on our membership list, programs or groups that have indigenous studies dimensions include:

American Studies Program

Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs

Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Islands Studies

Center for Latin American Studies

Department of Anthropology

M.A. Program in Conflict Resolution, Department of Government

Mind-Body Medicine Program, School of Medicine

O’Neill Institute for Global & National Health Law, Georgetown Law School

Past Events (Archive)

Native America Series Continues on PBS

November 13, 2018 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Catch the final two episodes of Native America on WETA (PBS Channel 26) on November 13 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

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Join the Society Advancing Hispanic/Chicano and Native Americans in Science for a Panel Discussion

The Owen’s Auditorium, Koch Research Bldg.
Johns Hopkins University
1550 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231
November 28, 2018, 5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Join the John’s Hopkins and UMB chapters of the Society Advancing Hispanic/Chicano and Native Americans in Science for a panel discussion on Health & Education.

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Georgetown University’s Art Department Celebrates its new Maria and Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery

Through November 18, 2018
3535 Prospect St. NW Washington DC 20007

Please join us at the Maria and Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery for Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibit Don’t Make Me Over. Gibson is an award-winning Choctaw/Cherokee artist based in Hudson, NY.

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Film Screening: Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian

April 11, 2018 at 8:00pm
Goergetown University, New South Film Screening Room

Please join the Georgetown University Native American Student Council for a screening of Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian: A Story of Empowerment Through Society.

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