NAISIP awarded at Keller Center Innovation Forum

Written by
Sarah Malone, Program in American Studies
Oct. 11, 2021

Indigenous woman demonstrates traditional agricultural techniques to students
Students in the fall 2021 course “Native American Literature” visit Munsee Three Sisters Farm to learn about land as the means of Indigenous survival. Photo courtesy of Sarah Rivett

At the 16th annual Keller Center Innovation Forum on Thursday, Oct. 7, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton (NAISIP) proposal by Professor of English and American Studies Sarah Rivett received third place in the humanities and social sciences category.

In her presentation to the forum, Rivett detailed how fall 2021 programming aims to reconnect the University to Lenape communities and to the language and land of Lenapehoking, the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Lenape people, on which Princeton sits:

  • On Nov. 4 and 5, an inaugural language symposium will seek to respond to the injustices of forced removal of Native peoples and forced instruction of Native children in English. The symposium will offer Munsee language instruction, a sunrise ceremony, and six Lenape speakers to place their language in the context of spirituality, culture and art.
  • In September, Rivett took students in the fall course “Native American Literature” on a service-learning trip to Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm, a space that Ramapough Lenape Chief Vincent Mann and Clan Mother Michaeline Picaro have set up to nurture new land. The experience taught the students about land as a literal means of Indigenous survival.

The Keller Center award will help make these events annual, Rivett said.

An annual farm visit, Rivett said, “would establish a reciprocal connection between the Ramapough Tribe and ongoing research on food sovereignty, environmental issues, history, and Indigenous medicines.”

NAISIP views such projects “as the fulcrum of a robust and vibrant curriculum in Native American and Indigenous studies,” Rivett said.

Funding will also support efforts such as NAISIP’s fall seminar series, and the Indigenous studies website, the University’s first virtual space dedicated to Indigenous studies.