Submitted on Thursday, 10/15/2020, at 2:48 PM

On Oct. 12, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Associate Professor of American Studies Kiara Vigil appeared on public radio to discuss the importance of learning and teaching Native history.

Vigil, whose ancestry is Dakota, Apache, Irish and Mexican, spoke of her experiences as a child in the Boston area, learning about her Native heritage in ways that went beyond what little she was taught in school. “So I had to kind of do supplementary reading on my own. And that just continued throughout life,” she said. “And so it's not surprising to me that I found my way into being a teacher of history, a teacher of literature and culture.”

The professor also described teaching her Spring 2020 course “Native Futures”. Many of the students, she said, were Indigenous—from “Hawaii and Chumash country, Ojibwe and Lenape, Pottawatomie”—and “in almost every single text we've read, there was something that spoke to their community or their people.” Vigil also recalled how a white student from upstate New York was able to learn about her own hometown’s connections to Mohawk history, showing how “it's not just one person's history or story to inherit. It's all of ours.”