Unsettling American Art History:
Perspectives from Native American & Indigenous Studies

Histories of the U.S. and Canada are defined by violence conquest and continued occupation. Indigenous studies scholars recognize dominant institutions—from legal to cultural—as fundamentally colonial and understand colonialism as ongoing as Indigenous peoples continue to fight against cultural invisibility, exploitation, and misrepresentation, threats to their land and water rights, and for sovereignty.

This symposium gathers an interdisciplinary group of scholars, artists, and curators whose work both engages with 19th– and 20th-century Indigenous art/history and is framed by the field of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Indigenous studies scholars adopt diverse tactics for challenging settler structures and narratives, including decolonial (or anti-colonial) calls for restoration, restitution, and reparation; truth-telling and ethical research methodologies; Indigenizing dominant structures via Indigenous presence and voices; recognizing Indigenous sovereignties through consultation and partnerships; embracing story-telling and storywork as powerful methodologies; and considering place, relationality, community, and kin, both human and more-than-human, as central to Indigenous knowledges.

Over the course of two days, various speakers will highlight current approaches to and research on 19th– and 20th-century Indigenous art; illuminate how Indigenous studies is critically unsettling histories of American art; and accentuate how Indigenous studies’ twin projects of decolonizing and Indigenizing are productively reshaping museum practice. Together, the speakers aim to unsettle colonial narratives and practices that are still prominent in stories about and collections of both Indigenous and settler art.

Organised by Sascha Scott, Associate Professor of Art History, Syracuse University and Amy Lonetree (Ho-Chunk), Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz. 

This event has been co-organised by the Centre for American Art and University of Arkansas School of Art. We extend our grateful thanks to the MA in Arts of the Americas Program at the University of Arkansas School of Art for their generous support of this conference. 

The Centre for American Art is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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Friday 9th June, 9.30am - 3.00pm BST and Saturday 10th June, 9.30am - 3.00pm BST

Free, booking essential

Lecture Theatre 2  Vernon Square 


Day One: Friday 9th June 2023 

9.30am – Registration 

10.00am – Introductory comments 

10.15am – Session 1: Indigenous Visual and Material Culture

Philip J. Deloria (Dakota descent), Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University
The Matter of the Material in the Art of Mary Sully

Emily Moore, Associate Professor of Art History, Colorado State University
Naas-Shagee-Yeil: Claiming the “Seattle Pole”

Alicia Harris (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Assiniboine), Assistant Professor of Native American Art History, The University of Oklahoma School of Visual Arts
Wíya Oda Snonya: Quilting Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Help Us Remember

12.00pm – Lunch (provided for speakers and organisers) 

1.30pm – Session 2: Contemporary Art and the Presentness of the Past

Dylan Robinson (Stó:lō/Skwah), Associate Professor, University of British Columbia School of Music
Resting, Hearing, and Speaking with: Indigenous Public Art’s Relationships with the Life of Land

Andrea Carlson (Ojibwe), Artist
The Land Art Returned 

Sherry Farrell-Racette (Algonquin/Metis/Irish), Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts and Faculty of Media, Art and Performance, University of Regina
The Resurgence of Traditional Media and Acts of “Doing” in Contemporary Indigenous Art

3.00pm – Reception, all welcome

Day Two: Saturday 10th June 2023 

9.30am – Registration

10.00am – Introductory comments

10.15am – Session 3:Unsettling Settler Art Histories

Scott Manning Stevens (Akwesasne Mohawk), Associate Professor and Director of Native American and Indigenous Studies, Syracuse University
Two Indigenous Perspectives on Landscape

Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw Nation), Professor, Department of Native American Studies, The University of Oklahoma
Unsettling Settler Colonial Narratives: The Oklahoma Land Run in Public History and Memory

Sascha Scott, Associate Professor of Art History, Syracuse University
A Conspiracy of Silences: Unsettling Histories of U.S. Modernism

12.00pm – Lunch (provided for speakers and organisers) 

1.30pm – Session 4: Ethical Stewardship and Practices in Museum & Archives

Amy Lonetree (Ho Chunk), Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz
Indigenous Storywork and the Visual Archive: Centering Narratives of Ho-Chunk Survivance, 1879-1960

Kendra Greendeer (Ho Chunk), Ph.D. Candidate in Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Paul Mellon Guest Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art
Rematriation as Aesthetic Praxis

Heather Igloliorte (Inuk-Newfoundlander (Nunatsiavut)), Associate Professor of Art History and Co-Director, Indigenous Futures Research Centre, Concordia University
Care and Intervention: Curatorial and Artistic Engagements in the Stewardship of Collections

3.00pm – End 



Geometric image of four intersecting triangles. The bottom triangle is made up of lines of different colours and patterns, the left and right triangles are bright blue, and the top triangle is dark green with white flecks giving the impression of a night sky and stars.
Andrea Carlson, Sky in the Morning Hours of “Binaakwiiwi-giizis 15, 1900," 2022, gouache on paper. Photograph by Patrick Young, Michigan Imaging. Courtesy the artist © Andrea Carlson
Combined logo of the Centre for American Art and MA Arts of the Americas