Five College Consortium

Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies

Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies


“Contested Legal Realities"  

Different Approaches to the Law in Indian Country

March 4-6, 2015

University of Massachusetts Amherst and Amherst College

“’Contested Legal Realities’: Different Approaches to the Law in Indian Country” is a 3-day symposium that focuses on non-lawyer perspectives of legal issues in Indian Country. The concept for this symposium arose from a discussion within the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies colloquium. Our aim is to build on that conversation by hosting a day of round-table panels and break-out groups involving critical thinking at the crossroads of the Connecticut River Valley. The symposium is open to students, faculty, staff, community members and the general public.

Indian law is a unique field, which requires a comprehensive understanding of history, textual interpretation and federal Indian policies. A law firm that attempts to represent a tribe, particularly in a suit against state or federal governments, without understanding the relevant history may fail to contextualize the problem at hand. Thinking only within the bounds of federal Indian law, constraints created by the federal government to keep it firmly entrenched as the ultimate arbitrator, has often lead to failure. Attorneys and researchers need to step outside the law, outside the precedents, to develop unique strategies and perspectives on the cases that they represent as well as the critical apparatus to analyze cases within a multidisciplinary framework. Thus, this symposium seeks to gather together Indigenous Studies scholars outside the field of law to consider interdisciplinary approaches to legal issues as well as to invite community-based scholars to consider (and critique) those approaches in light of recent cases and longer histories.  Ultimately, we hope to build dialogues that can empower Native nations, and their representatives, in the protection of their rights and resources.


Wednesday, March 4

6:00-9:00 ~  Film screening of “Into America” with Angelo Baca at Elm Hall, Room 212 and 214, Honors College, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Enter through Howard Classroom Wing entrances. (See detailed campus map)

Thursday, March 5

4:00-6:00 ~ Symposium Reception at Alumni House, Amherst College

Friday, March 6

Symposium ~ Pruyne Auditorium in Fayerweather Hall, Amherst College (map)
8:30-9:30 ~ Breakfast
9:30-12:30 ~ Roundtable Panels and Discussion
12:30-2:00 ~ Lunch
2:00-3:30 ~ Breakout discussions: meet in Porter Lounge, Converse Hall, Amherst College
3:30-4:00 ~ Closing Remarks

Invited Roundtable Participants:

Maria Girouard, Penobscot Indian Nation
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Wesleyan University
Doug Kiel, Williams College
jessie little doe baird, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Beth Piatote, University of California, Berkeley
Josh Reid, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Parking on Wednesday is available (for a small fee) at the UMASS Campus Center Parking Garage and on Thursday and Friday at the Amherst College Alumni House Lot.

For more information please contact a member of the symposium organizing committee:

Kathleen  Brown-Perez

Kiara Vigil

Christine DeLucia

Co-sponsors include the Five Colleges, Inc. and The Jackie Pritzen Fund; Graduate College and Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts Amherst; the Dean of Faculty and the Departments of American Studies, English, History, SWAGS, and Anthropology/Sociology at Amherst College; the Dean of Faculty and History Department at Mount Holyoke College; the American Studies Department at Smith College; the Culture, Brain, and Development Program at Hampshire College; and Gedakina.

March 2, 2015 - Film Screening and Discussion


NAGPRA, Repatriation & Law in Indian Country
March 2, 2015, 4-7:00 pm, Integrative Learning Center, Rm. 131 (UM)

This event will precede the National NAGPRA Review Committee meeting to be held at UMass from March 3-4. The moving and informative documentary 'Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii' provides insight into one of the first repatriations conducted at the Chicago Field Museum. The film will be followed by a discussion in which we invite tribal community members, NAGPRA Review Committee members, and others in the audience to share their experiences and current challenges with repatriation work. Through this event we aim to give students and the public the chance to hear directly from tribal members about their challenges and efforts to repatriate and rebury their ancestors. The event will be followed by a reception.  

        Moderator:  Bonnie Newsom, Penobscot Indian Nation,  Chair of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Repatriation Review Committee, UMass PhD candidate

        Donna Augustine, Aroostook Band of Micmac, Wabanaki Tribes of Maine Intertribal Repatriation Committee        
        Cheryll Toney Holley, Chief Sachem of the Nipmuc Nation
        Ramona Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, THPO
        Jim Taylor, Elnu Abenaki Tribal Councilman, NAGPRA Rep    
        Elaine Thomas, Mohegan Tribe NAGPRA Coordinator/ Deputy THPO
        Shannon Martin, Director, Ziibiwing Center, Saginaw Chippewa (MI)
        Sydney Martin, Match-e-be-nash-she-wish, NAGPRA rep (MI)

March 3, 2015 - Phil Deloria Talk at UMASS Amherst

Toward an American Indian Abstract:  What an Unknown Artist Might Tell Us About Celebrity, Modernity, Anthropology, the 1930s, and a Few Other Things Besides
Philip J. Deloria, University of Michigan

Tuesday, March 3rd - 3:00-5:00pm
Commonwealth Honors College, Rm 160

Between the late-1920s and the mid-1940s, Dakota Sioux artist Mary Sully produced a compelling body of work at the interface of modernist aesthetics, industrial design, and Sioux visual tradition. In a combination of close readings and contextualizations, Phil Deloria explores her wide-ranging vernacular intellect and her anthropological interests, while making a case for her place in the canon of 1930s art. Deloria is the Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of American Culture and History at the University of Michigan and author of Playing Indian  (1998) and Indians in Unexpected Places (2004).

Sponsored by the UMASS Graduate Certificate Program in Native American & Indigenous Studies

PLEASE NOTE: Phil has kindly agreed to meet with graduate students for a brown bag lunch before the talk.


March 3-4, 2015, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Campus Center, 10th floor (UM)

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a Federal law passed in 1990. NAGPRA provides a process for museums and Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items -- human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony -- to lineal descendants, and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. NAGPRA includes provisions for unclaimed and culturally unidentifiable Native American cultural items, intentional and inadvertent discovery of Native American cultural items on Federal and tribal lands, and penalties for noncompliance and illegal trafficking. In addition, NAGPRA authorizes Federal grants to Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and museums to assist with the documentation and repatriation of Native American cultural items, and establishes the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee to monitor the NAGPRA process and facilitate the resolution of disputes that may arise concerning repatriation under NAGPRA.

This meeting of the National NAGPRA Review Committee is open to the public.  Please avoid being disruptive as you enter and leave.

For the complete agenda see:

Dec. 2013, Frederick Hoxie's Work as "Amherst Reads" Featured Book of the Month.

This Indian Country, written by Amherst College alumnus Frederick Hoxie (class of 1969), is the Featured Book of the Month for December 2013 as part of the Amherst Reads program. Visit the link below to find information about the book and author and listen to a discussion between Hoxie and Assistant Professor of American Studies Kiara Vigil (Amherst College). 

Click here for more information. 

CANCELED: Dec. 16, 2013, Rachel Sayet at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke.

CANCELED: Mohegan Nation member Rachel Sayet scheduled to present a lecture as part of the Wistariahurst Museum's series "Historical Culinary Incidents: An Exploration of Food and Culture in the Pioneer Valley." Please click here for more information. 

Dec. 6, 2013, Lisa Brooks Lecture at Amherst College.

Professor Lisa Brooks (Associate Professor, American Studies and English) is scheduled to present her lecture "Locating American Literature in Native Space: Mary Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative and the Kwinitekw Valley" at Amherst College. 

Time and Date: Friday, December 3, 12 P.M. (noon)
Location: Mullins Room, Lewis Sebring Commons (part of Valentine Dining Hall), Amherst College