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Working Group on Global Indigeneity and American Indian Studies

A Preliminary Vision for an
Emerging Global Indigeneity
Community and Curriculum

Indigeneity is woven into the fabric of the world. Since its founding in the late 1990s, American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has led the way in the development of innovative multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches to exploring its many threads. While continuing to center American Indian Studies, we turn now to locating it within a freestanding Curriculum in Global Indigeneity. We have long been intrigued by the striking coherences that exist in the centuries-long, global march of colonization, imperialism, oppression, violence, and land dispossession that have affected peoples all over the globe. We seek to deepen and enrich our place-based understandings and commitments through larger conversations about the undeniable similarities (as well as differences) in the ways colonized peoples around the world have been responding to past and ongoing assaults on their lands and sovereignty. Among the many powerful decolonizing projects that have captured our attention are the numerous “land back” movements unfolding on several continents; the work of Indigenous nations in Ecuador, Bolivia, and elsewhere to reconstitute their nation-states as plurinational and to affirm ecosystem rights; and projects launched by Cherokees, Koreans, Senegalese, Frisians, and others to revitalize their suppressed languages.

We believe that the promise these efforts hold for remaking a world shaped by colonialism invites global and comparative conversations. Our goal is to close the gap between academic and Indigenous communities in North Carolina and beyond, shift Indigeneity from the margins of academia to the center of intellectual inquiry, and foster fruitful local, regional, and international collaborations. In so doing, the Curriculum in Global Indigeneity will provide opportunities not only to learn about Indigenous and colonized peoples, nations, cultures, philosophies, epistemologies, and much more, but also to interrogate power and support and amplify decolonizing and Indigenizing efforts worldwide, including efforts to decolonize the university. The scholarship and creative work of heretofore marginalized thinkers and artists lies at the heart of our collective undertaking. While rejecting essentialist and romanticized views of Indigenous peoples, our personal commitment is to nourish our relations with the human, other-than-human, and more-than-human world with humility and respect.