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Indigenous Peoples’ claims for retributive justice are leading to debates over restitution and the legal, political and moral consequences of the acknowledgment of past wrongs. What are the ramifications of the right to self-determination for Indigenous Peoples in a contemporary world? Collective and individual identities and human rights may be in tension with each other. How are these to be reconciled? Gender and generational differentiations may underscore not just individual rifts, but the potentially broader conflict within groups themselves. What could be a human rights response to such conflicts? Economic interests of majorities are put forward to justify displacement, dispossession and other violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. And the hunger for the world’s still unexplored natural resources that reside on Indigenous Peoples’ lands motivates major decisions of governments and the private sector, with unclear commitment to benefit sharing and even the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.  How are conflicting claims and rights between Indigenous Peoples and the dominant society to be resolved? What should be the role of the state in these conflicts? Is the dichotomy between western knowledge and indigenous knowledge a true dichotomy? Can one think “scientifically” and yet be open to an indigenous worldview? Does the adoption of Western epistemologies, ontologies, and methodologies really entail the wholesale rejection of their indigenous counterparts and vice-versa? What is the role of expressive culture and aesthetics in these inquiries? How do they reveal and help us think through indigenous sovereignty or its pursuit, indigenous epistemologies, inter- and intra-community conflict over definitions of identity, social roles, relationships to the physical world and political organization and action?

The University Seminar on Indigenous Studies at Columbia provides the opportunity for sharing research on these many critical issues, which are challenging and unsettling scholars, researchers, and practitioners in and around this field. Discussions revolve around contentious and emerging issues in the field of indigenous studies and research and contribute to the advancement of the field.

Professor Pamela Calla

Professor Elizabeth Hutchinson

Sara Pan Algarra

Meeting Schedule

09/20/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Collective of Amazonian Women in Ecuador: The protection of the environment and the rights of women and the land
Patricia Gualinga, Independent Scholar

10/10/2022 Zoom
7:00 PM
Indigenous Fire: wildfires, cultural burning, and the preservation of community
Nardy Velasco, CHICHAR, Bolivia

Don L. Hankins, Professor of Geography and Planning, CSU Chico

Rachael Cavangh, Community Programs & Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Firesticks, Gumbaynggirr Country, New South Wales, Australia

12/14/2022 Faculty House, Columbia University / Zoom
6:00 PM
Lucía Ixchu, Solidarity Festivals


This conversation with Lucia Ixchiu (Solidarity Festivals) hosted by Ximena Bustamante (9M Translocal, Undocumented Women’s Fund and DSA Latinos Socialistas) focuses on how indigenous women in Guatemala utilize art and community media as tools for decolonization, popular mobilization against extractivism and the building of historical memory. The talk will also address the pervasiveness of State-sponsored mechanisms of repression against social leaders and land defenders in times of “peace”, as well as the power of translocal solidarity. This talk is part of the “Growing Solidarity with Guatemala Speaking Tour” organized by Lucía Ixchu and Carlos Cano, members in exile of Festivales Solidarios, in collaboration with community organizations and academic institutions in cities across the United States.

This event is organized by the University Seminar on Indigenous Studies at Columbia University and the Feminist Constellations Platform at the Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. The event is also made possible with support from co-sponsors Festivales Solidarios, 9M Translocal, Undocumented Women's Fund, DSA Latinos Socialistas.

Ximena Bustamante, Undocumented Women’s Fund and 9M Translocal

02/08/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Nanea Rentería, Columbia University

03/08/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Indigenous Religious Traditions and the Limits of White Supremacy
Tiffany Hale, Barnard College