F 10/27 Second Annual Muscogee Teach-In

On October 27, Emory University and the Muscogee leaders will once again be hosting the Muscogee Teach-In. Come and learn from Muscogee signers, storytellers, and artists as they lead culture labs, language learning, and a stomp dance. Link to register.

Time: 2:30pm – 5:00pm

Place: Emory Student Center, Multipurpose Rooms; Stomp Dance on McDonough Plaza

M 09/25 Book Club and Lecture

On September 25, the American Studies Department of Kennesaw State University will be hosting Dakota author Mona Susan Power as she present her new novel A Council of Dolls. To participate in the book club and receive a free copy of A Council of Dolls, please RSVP to Professor Miriam Brown Spiers: mspiers1 [at] kennesaw [dot] edu. Click here to see the flyer: Book Club & Lecture.

Time and Place:

Book Club: 10:30 am – 12 pm; Room SO 2033

Lecture: 2 – 3:30 pm; Room SO 2038

W 09/20 Since Time Immemorial: Native Custom and Law in Colonial Mexico

On September 20, the Department of History will be hosting the Since Time Immemorial: Native Custom and Law in Colonial Mexico symposium led by Professor Yanna Hannakakis and paneled by Dr. María Carrión and Dr. Emil’ Keme. Reception will be held after the symposium. Click here to view the flyer: Yannakakis Symposium.

Time: 5 – 6:30 pm

Place: 360 Atwood Chemistry Building

Dr. María Carrión: Professor of Religion and Comparative Literature, Department of Religion, Emory University

Dr. Emil’ Keme: Professor of English and Indigenous Studies, Department of English, Emory University

NAISI Welcomes Dr. Emil’ Keme to the Emory

Dr. Emil’ Keme (K’iche’ Maya) joins Emory’s faculty as an Indigenous K’iche’ Maya scholar and professor of English and Indigenous Studies. 

Emil’ is currently working on a manuscript that examines Indigenous struggles for self-determination across the Americas. His work aims to highlight the potentialities of building trans-hemispheric Indigenous alliances by critically exploring the field of Indigenous studies, settler colonial borders, Indigenous forced migration, Indigenous approaches to environmental justice, and the rights of Indigenous women and LGBTQ2s+ peoples.


 Besides his teaching, research, and service to his department and university, he is co-founder and member of the collective: Community of Maya Studies, Ix’balamquej’ Junajpu Wunaq’, and volunteers for the International Mayan League. In mid-August of this year, with his collective, and the Indigenous Maya Women’s Movement, Tz’ununija’, he co-organized the II International Conference: Indigenous Peoples Against Racism, and moderated the panel “Migration, Racism, and Violence Against Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Peoples”. He also volunteers for the International Mayan League, a human rights organization led by Maya women and youth, that works for the rights of Indigenous migrants in the United States. 

Taking the lead from members of the Muscogee Nation, Emil’ hopes to contribute to preserving and passing their knowledge and being to current and future generations of students at Emory through the work of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative and the Indigenous Language Path. In the spring 2024, he will teach two undergraduate courses that will center Native voices and experiences, particularly Muscogee, that among others will include: Laura Harjo, Craig Womack, Joy Harjo, and Eddie Chuculate. “Muscogee literature will allow us to open a creative door to Muscogee experiences and knowledges and learn from some of the original peoples of what is now Atlanta”, Keme indicates. 

 As a first-generation college graduate, and faculty member, Keme also knows what it means to navigate college, and the new challenges this brings to one’s life. He believes that his experience in and out of academia, his listening skills, and outgoing personality can offer essential support to students interested in obtaining guidance, coaching, and advice while navigating and completing their degrees in the humanities at Emory. 

For a sample of Dr. Keme’s work, see the short piece: Abiayala and Indigenous Literation, available in English and Spanish.

Celebration of Native American and Indigenous Graduates of 2023

Congratulations to NAIS’s new graduates Iliyah Bruffett and Sierra Talavera-Brown!

Watch the recording of the 2023 Celebration of Native American and Indigenous Gradates here and view the photo gallery of the event here.


Dr. Leonard Lectures On Indigenous Language Reclamation

On April 10 2023, Dr. Wesley Leonard, citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and associate professor at the University of California, Riverside, delivered a lecture about Indigenous reclamation of language. He began with an introduction of himself in myaamia, the Miami lan guage. He then narrated the Miami history of removal, his work to reclaim the Miami language, and explained how Native languages interact with the field of linguistics.

Dr. Leonard emphasized the difference between revitalization and reclamation of Indigenous languages because these languages are still being spoken. Revitalization invokes bringing life back into a language, but Dr. Leonard argues that these languages were never dead. It was just sleeping until users woke it up.

His central theme was the ”Seven R’s” respecting the land, the language, and the people who use the language; relevance of language education for learners and communities; reflexivity which examines one’s cause for action and prospective; incorporating Native understanding of reciprocity; responsibility of learning the language’s history; rights of the Indigenous users of the language to create their own curriculum; and relationality/relational accountability which is a holistic view of our relationship with our knowledge acquirement and accountability to the users of the language.

Dr. Leonard followed by looking at how the field of academic linguistics’ influences understandings of Native languages. The current study of linguistics breaks down language into subcategories and units. This diminishes the relational understanding integral to Native cultures. Dr. Leonard emphasized that “language is the blanket that holds all of our culture.” He has worked to change the narrative of myaamia from “mining” an “extinct” language created to erase Native history to centering myaamia and other Native languages being actively used in the present.

He concluded his lecture with reaffirming the purpose of Indigenous language reclamation. Reclamation centers on the Native community’s understanding of language, dismantling colonial discourse surrounding languages, promote engagement with communities at various levels of use, and foster allyships grounded in the Seven R’s.