Clements Center Evening Lecture Series

K. Tsianina Lomawaima, Senior Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America

American Indian Boarding School Stories: Presence, Absence, Silence, and Ghosts

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 |   The Texana  Room - Fondren Library Center, 6404 Robert S. Hyer Lane, SMU   |  5:30 reception followed by 6 pm lecture  


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Co-sponsored with SMU's DeGolyer Special Collections Library

If you look at textbooks used in most U.S. public schools, you’d think the only Indians living after 1900 were Jim Thorpe and a crew of Navajo Code Talkers. Why consign Indians to the past and ignore us in the present? That “logic of elimination” might spring from the anxiety raised by a basic question: What does it mean that the U.S. is built on Indian land? This evening’s talk takes that question seriously, and examines how federal Indian boarding schools sought to erase Native people while the Native people who survived the schools defied the logic of elimination. Stories from Clements Center Senior Fellow Tsianina Lomawaima’s father, Curtis Thorpe Carr, help us understand the presences, absences, silences, and ghosts of American Indian boarding school stories, memories, and histories – and how Indian people and Indian land are central to U.S. identity and nationhood.

This year’s Bill and Rita Clements Senior Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America is K. Tsianina Lomawaima (Mvskoke / Creek Nation, not enrolled) joined Arizona State University in January 2014.  The recipient of numerous teaching honors, including the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Lomawaima’s research interests include the status of Native people as U.S. citizens and Native nations as Indigenous sovereigns, the role of Native nations in shaping U.S. federalism, and the history of American Indian education versus colonial schooling. Research on the federal off-reservation boarding school system is rooted in the experiences of her father, Curtis Thorpe Carr, a survivor of Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Oklahoma, where he was enrolled from 1927 to 1935.  Several of her books have garnered national recognition, including: To Remain an Indian (Outstanding Book Award, American Educational Research Association); and They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School (North American Indian Prose Award, American Educational Association Critics’ Choice Award).

Image:Curtis Thorpe Carr, courtesy of Tsianina Lomawaima.


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