News & Events


The NAISA Council has initiated a search for a new editor or editors for a four-year term beginning June 1, 2019. Applications are due January 1, 2018.
As the journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) is based in North America but seeks to bridge the distances across the Indigenous world. The editors of NAIS are committed to creating a dynamic intellectual space for the communication and dissemination of excellent scholarship related to Indigenous Studies.

Effigy mounds are a unique cultural treasure

by Robert Persons

Assembly Bill 620, related to the cataloging of burial sites, would lead to the destruction of currently protected effigy mounds.

Memorial Day, the Mounds, and WI AB 620

By R. Cheeksunkunmem day stone

Memorial Day is coming and we will soon make our annual trek to cemeteries where our loved ones are buried. We will lay flowers upon their graves to honor their lives in remembrance of the past, but it will not be for the dead: it will be for the living. It will be a celebration of our life and humanity and, in many cases, it will precipitate introspection. None of us will wonder: "Do the dead have rights? Could we get away with digging up a grave? How many gold teeth do you suppose are in there?" What makes us human? What separates us from the animals? For one thing, we bury our dead. Would it be absurd to entertain the thought of digging up a cemetery?

Not only was this question entertained by a court in Wisconsin, permission was granted. It is only because of the appeal process that this case is still pending. Do the dead have rights? There is an inherent value in cemeteries, in honoring our ancestors, that supersedes race and culture. It reminds us that we are all part of one big, happy family. It reminds us that we are not animals.

A cemetery in Wisconsin is currently under consideration for being quarried. This is per request of Wingra Stone and Redi - Mix, owners of a quarry company who wish to quarry the dead, grind them up, mix them with cement, and sell them which they somehow think is not disgusting. State Senator Chris Kapenga and Representative Robert Brooks don't think so either. They have even designed a bill to make it happen, but with the best of intentions.

Assembly Bill 620 will protect our cemeteries by allowing private land owners to dig them up and excavate them, in order to prove they are cemeteries. But no worries, I am referring to the prehistoric Effigy Mounds found near Madison. This law is only targeting those pesky Native cemeteries - for now. They are the most lucrative and alluring sites to ravage. Moreover, in all practical terms, you will only have Indian carcasses in the cement slabs beneath your homes.

Who digs up cemeteries, anyway? I mean really, who does that? Who thinks desecrating a grave is acceptable? If you do, you could be among the first pioneers to take the term savage to a whole new level. Your name could be in the books, right alongside Christopher Columbus.

Yet it has been said that intelligence is the ability to learn from our mistakes, and that it is our responsibility, as a society, to learn from the past. Is it dishonoring our heritage to evaluate the ways of our fathers in order to embrace the good and disregard the bad, or is it honoring them? Ethnocentricity is waxing old. This is a new day. Our cemeteries need protection. They need to be removed from private ownership and given back to the world community. They belong to all of us.

Save the mounds. Let us celebrate Memorial Day together. Ask what makes one cemetery more valuable than another. Be brave and set the precedent. Be a leader and lead our people: become Wolf of the Wolf Clan. During this memorial season, remember those who are less fortunate, those who are not afforded the same protection as others because they cannot afford it, and when you lay flowers upon the graves of your loved ones, don't take it for granted. Even here, in this great land, not everyone has that privilege. Remember the past. It will be a celebration of life and humanity and, in many cases, it will be a time of reflection. You may even ask: "When do we stop being human?” Is it when we stop thinking others so?

R. Cheeksunkun is a Mohican writer.


Native Writers Workshops: Become an Art Critic

In this Spring Native Writers Workshop series, writers will learn the craft of art criticism using history and culturally sensitive methods. The first session includes a field trip to the Oneida Nation Museum.

There are three sessions in the Spring Native Writers Workshops on three different Saturdays. Each session will be from 10:00am to 2:00pm and includes a light lunch on 3 Saturdays: April 16th, April 30th, and May 14th. Participants will also get this nifty YL journal notebook. heather ahtone

Heather Ahtone is a featured guest speaker in the second workshop on Sat. April 30, 2016. She will present her program, "Designed to Last: Issues for Critical Discussion about American Indian Art” addressing the cultural aspects of Indigenous art.

Ahtone, is a curator at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. In a recent article, she states “Each tribal culture has local ideals, values, and beliefs that necessarily require consideration. These can be incorporated into a larger framework that allows for discussion of the art in a broader continental manner, which I assert can be useful in understanding the Indigenous aesthetic,” (Wicazo Sa Review, Spring , 2012).

The Oneida Nation Arts Program (ONAP) was awarded a grant from the First Nations Development Institute under its Native Arts Capacity Building Initiative (NACBI) to sponsor the Spring Native Writers Workshops. The grant is made possible through generous support from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

For more info: email coordinator Ryan Winn. Call (920) 490-3832. Also, download the registration form.