Dr. Leo Killsback: 2021 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize winner
Dr. Leo Killsback gave a talk at the Center for Great Plains Studies as the first Paul A. Olson lecture of the semester.
He is an associate professor in the Department of Native American Studies at Montana State University who specializes in indigenous governance, traditional law, sovereignty, and treaty rights. Dr. Killsback grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and is devoted to the preservation and resurgence of Cheyenne language and culture. He sustains relationships within his nation by means of collaborative methodologies that neither exploit nor marginalize.
Dr. Killsback is the winner of the 2021 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize for the two-volume set “A Sacred People: Indigenous Governance, Traditional Leadership, and the Warriors of the Cheyenne Nation” and “A Sovereign People: Indigenous Nationhood, Traditional Law, and the Covenants of the Cheyenne Nation” (Texas Tech University Press, 2020).
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[00:00:04.900]So good afternoon, everybody,
[00:00:06.800]or evening I should say perhaps,
[00:00:09.570]and welcome to the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:00:13.250]I'm Margaret Jacobs.
[00:00:14.760]I'm the center's director.
[00:00:16.330]I've only been in the job for a year,
[00:00:17.920]but I haven't seen anybody or done any events,
[00:00:20.600]so this is really exciting to be here with you all.
[00:00:25.120]We are really thrilled today to have you attend a lecture
[00:00:30.070]by the 2021 Stubbendieck Great Plains
[00:00:33.060]Distinguished Book Prize winner, Dr. Leo Killsback.
[00:00:37.820]And before I introduce Dr. Killsback,
[00:00:39.377]I would like to invite my colleague Margaret Huettl
[00:00:42.680]to the podium.
[00:00:52.260]On behalf of the Center for Great Plains Studies,
[00:00:54.670]I would like to acknowledge
[00:00:56.240]that the University of Nebraska is a land grant institution
[00:01:00.770]with campuses and programs on the past, present,
[00:01:04.330]and future homelands of Pawnee, Ponca, Otoe-Missouria,
[00:01:09.160]Omaha, Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kaw peoples,
[00:01:15.310]as well as the relocated Ho-Chunk or Winnebago, Iowa,
[00:01:19.390]and Sac and Fox peoples.
[00:01:21.520]Land acknowledgements are not sufficient,
[00:01:23.850]but they are an important step,
[00:01:25.690]especially on a day like today,
[00:01:28.140]which in Canada is being used
[00:01:30.250]to observe a day of remembrance
[00:01:32.120]for the thousands of Native children's lives
[00:01:34.520]taken by government-run assimilation schools,
[00:01:37.710]schools that also operated in the United States,
[00:01:40.770]where the work of reckoning is just beginning.
[00:01:44.510]Please take a moment to consider the legacies
[00:01:47.020]of more than 150 years of dispossession,
[00:01:50.460]violence, settlement, and survival
[00:01:53.040]that bring us together here today.
[00:01:55.440]This acknowledge is a start as we look together
[00:01:59.590]toward the next 150 years.
[00:02:02.200](Margaret speaks in foreign language)
[00:02:09.150]Thank you, Margaret.
[00:02:10.140]I wanna acknowledge Margaret too
[00:02:12.140]because Margaret's been working for a number of years
[00:02:15.720]on creating the land acknowledgement
[00:02:18.890]for the whole university.
[00:02:21.780]It might seem simple, but it's actually a lot of work
[00:02:24.640]to research all the peoples that were here in this area
[00:02:28.380]and to consult with the peoples of this area as well,
[00:02:32.650]so Margaret's done an enormous amount of work,
[00:02:35.170]and she's created a wonderful site
[00:02:37.830]where you can find out more
[00:02:38.810]about why land acknowledgements are important.
[00:02:42.220]So thank you, Margaret,
[00:02:43.247]and thank you for acknowledging what's happening
[00:02:45.190]in Canada today too.
[00:02:47.970]This is not my usual color that I wear,
[00:02:50.160]but it's Orange Shirt Day in Canada.
[00:02:52.710]It's a holiday, or not a holiday,
[00:02:55.560]but it's a memorial started by a Native survivor
[00:02:59.690]of the Indian residential schools there
[00:03:03.280]as a way to try to bring attention to what happened.
[00:03:07.580]So it's now my pleasure to introduce our evening speaker,
[00:03:11.020]and to present him
[00:03:11.930]with the 2021 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize,
[00:03:18.310]and I also wanna acknowledge
[00:03:21.508]that this prize is named for Dr. Jim Stubbendieck,
[00:03:25.200]who's here with his wife Cheryl Stubbendieck tonight,
[00:03:28.340]and we're really happy to have you.
[00:03:30.340]Many of you know that Dr. Stubbendieck was also the director
[00:03:33.960]of the Center for Great Plains Studies for 14 years,
[00:03:37.490]so we're really delighted to have the Stubbendiecks
[00:03:39.580]with us as well.
[00:03:42.360]Dr. Leo Killsback is a citizen
[00:03:45.170]of the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana.
[00:03:48.350]He's also an associate professor of indigenous governance,
[00:03:52.390]traditional law, sovereignty, and treaty rights
[00:03:56.290]in the Department of Native Studies
[00:03:57.820]at Montana State University.
[00:04:00.340]Dr. Killsback's undergraduate degree is in math
[00:04:05.230]from Montana State University.
[00:04:06.780]I was really impressed with that.
[00:04:09.360]A lot of us in the humanities
[00:04:12.020]don't always make that crossover or vice versa,
[00:04:15.360]so it was really great to see that.
[00:04:18.450]Dr. Killsback also has his MA and PhD
[00:04:21.300]in American Indian studies from the University of Arizona.
[00:04:25.780]The book prize this year is historic
[00:04:27.960]for a number of reasons.
[00:04:30.450]For the first time ever,
[00:04:31.690]we are awarding the prize to two books, not one.
[00:04:35.930]For the first time ever,
[00:04:37.440]the winner is the author of two books, not one.
[00:04:42.450]And Dr. Killsback's two-volume set is,
[00:04:45.910]I'll read you the two titles:
[00:04:47.887]"A Sacred People: Indigenous Governance,
[00:04:52.127]"and the Warriors of the Cheyenne Nation,"
[00:04:54.740]and "A Sovereign People: Indigenous Nationhood,
[00:04:58.537]"Traditional Law, and the Covenants of the Cheyenne Nation."
[00:05:02.490]And the third way that this is historic this year is
[00:05:05.430]that this is the first time a Native author
[00:05:07.560]has won the award, and so we're particularly delighted
[00:05:11.220]that Dr. Killsback is here to receive the award today.
[00:05:15.660]I wanted to point out one feature
[00:05:17.990]that really stood out for me
[00:05:19.570]in reading Dr. Killsback's books.
[00:05:23.570]He has a very strong commitment
[00:05:25.430]to new decolonizing methodologies
[00:05:29.630]and being what he calls a sacred scholar.
[00:05:33.450]As he explains it,
[00:05:37.067]"Sacred scholars follow the same principles
[00:05:40.510]as sacred protectors in that they are burdened
[00:05:44.320]with protecting and preserving territory,
[00:05:46.870]culture, and people.
[00:05:48.640]They are burdened further to learn
[00:05:50.440]and respect the principles and customs
[00:05:52.360]of the mainstream academy.
[00:05:54.400]This means that they must produce new knowledge
[00:05:57.440]using innovative research in existing scholarship
[00:06:00.860]while remaining committed to their traditional indigenous
[00:06:04.060]cultural and spiritual beliefs."
[00:06:06.660]I thought that was an incredible statement.
[00:06:12.049]This is as far as I have gotten in Dr. Killsback's book,
[00:06:14.957]but I can't wait to read more.
[00:06:18.170]And I would like to invite Dr. Killsback up now
[00:06:20.520]to come receive his award and present on his book.
[00:06:34.026]So here is something of value.
[00:06:37.847]Here is a special (indistinct)
[00:07:04.760]This is an awesome award.
[00:07:07.230]Thanks again, and thank you, Margaret.
[00:07:13.880]I wanna give thanks to
[00:07:21.426]Thank you for your contributions,
[00:07:25.790]your intellectual contributions,
[00:07:27.100]and also your continued contribution to intellectualism.
[00:07:32.760]I wanna thank the staff of the center here:
[00:07:41.220]Sarah, Katie, and...
[00:07:47.610]Who am I missing?
[00:07:51.210]Yes, I can't see her.
[00:07:53.290]It's been a great experience, this time here,
[00:07:57.910]really my first trip
[00:08:02.510]since COVID hit, and I wanted to talk generally
[00:08:06.940]about these books that I've authored because
[00:08:13.410]I didn't think that these books,
[00:08:18.079]I didn't think that our people would face such adversity,
[00:08:25.040]because in the books I talk about how our nation,
[00:08:29.700]the Cheyenne Nation had faced
[00:08:31.610]numerous encounters of adversity,
[00:08:35.590]whether it be catastrophic events caused by nature
[00:08:43.157]or due to the forces of colonialism and warfare,
[00:08:47.610]and throughout this time, or the history of the existence
[00:08:51.420]of the Northern Cheyenne Nation,
[00:08:54.170]they've had a mechanism to allow
[00:08:57.160]for their survival to continue,
[00:09:00.047]and I think one of the things
[00:09:01.860]that I've learned is that all humans
[00:09:05.670]in all human civilizations have the same mechanism,
[00:09:09.570]and I wanted to author something
[00:09:12.280]that paid homage to the Cheyenne history
[00:09:15.787]and Cheyenne culture, but also to the human experience,
[00:09:21.030]something that anyone could gain from
[00:09:27.110]and understand that not all humans,
[00:09:33.048]or human beings in human civilizations aren't alone.
[00:09:37.176]You're not alone in this world
[00:09:39.094]and you're not alone in this universe.
[00:09:42.080]In fact, one of the core principles
[00:09:43.620]that I focus on is this idea of brotherhood or siblinghood,
[00:09:50.550]and I think for too long we've lived in a world
[00:09:54.930]and studied history from a standpoint
[00:09:57.560]of contention and conflict,
[00:10:00.980]especially when it comes to the history of the Great Plains.
[00:10:04.340]We are fascinated with the wars
[00:10:08.150]that Native people had fought in
[00:10:12.630]against the forces that existed, the colonial forces,
[00:10:19.886]and I think a lot of times we get lost in that narrative.
[00:10:24.050]It's an interesting history, military history.
[00:10:27.650]We like to hear about heroes.
[00:10:29.350]We like heroes, but a lot of that story is,
[00:10:35.560]are stories of tragedy, pain, suffering.
[00:10:40.450]But for Native people, it's real because we remember
[00:10:48.730]a lot of these historical injustices that may have occurred,
[00:10:56.280]and even if they're not formally taught,
[00:10:58.742]or even if they're not taught in the oral tradition,
[00:11:02.840]our landscape is the evidence of that,
[00:11:08.290]evidence of that conflict.
[00:11:14.590]when we see a major change in society,
[00:11:20.190]a shift in the physical world,
[00:11:24.820]we also have to shift in our spiritual world as well.
[00:11:30.227]We can no longer do things the way
[00:11:31.440]that we've done things.
[00:11:32.520]We can no longer see people the way
[00:11:34.560]that we perceive them to be,
[00:11:37.775]and just the way that our societies are created and made
[00:11:43.030]that we're conditioned to believe in.
[00:11:47.160]Maybe those ways aren't appropriate anymore.
[00:11:51.210]We're seeing that, and for Native people, we saw that,
[00:11:58.230]and we remember it in our histories.
[00:12:01.150]We remember it in our cultures,
[00:12:03.500]which is why we have histories of different worlds,
[00:12:09.790]worlds where monsters may have lived,
[00:12:13.900]whether they be giant, giant monsters
[00:12:16.370]that devoured entire villages or chased people away
[00:12:20.680]and wreaked havoc in our communities
[00:12:23.660]or in our villages, in our lands,
[00:12:27.750]or whether they be personalities,
[00:12:31.300]leaders who abused their power,
[00:12:35.210]leaders who overtaxed their people
[00:12:39.590]or used their people for their own benefit,
[00:12:46.140]for selfish reasons.
[00:12:48.070]We have those stories that remind us
[00:12:51.660]that that existed in this land,
[00:12:53.300]that existed amongst our people.
[00:12:59.646]But we also have stories of beauty:
[00:13:03.010]heroes, men and women, young men, young women,
[00:13:09.100]doing amazing things for their people,
[00:13:12.450]for their communities,
[00:13:14.300]and also for their fellow Native people
[00:13:18.300]and for their fellow human beings.
[00:13:20.770]They will introduce a concept,
[00:13:22.820]an ideology that is universal.
[00:13:26.330]Hey, you don't treat people like that.
[00:13:30.840]Well, let me tell you a story.
[00:13:36.480]Hey, you don't treat the earth that way.
[00:13:40.370]Well, sit down.
[00:13:41.290]Let me tell you a story.
[00:13:43.360]And maybe all we need is a little bit of patience,
[00:13:46.250]a little bit of understanding,
[00:13:49.420]to listen to what other folks have to offer us.
[00:13:54.130]So with my books,
[00:13:57.920]I strive to accomplish that.
[00:14:05.430]I was back and forth about how to approach history,
[00:14:08.910]Native history, Cheyenne history,
[00:14:11.000]indigenous history, without being exploitative,
[00:14:16.470]and I come to a realization that a lot of these experiences,
[00:14:24.720]they're shared amongst all human beings.
[00:14:27.510]At one point in time, you've experienced a monster.
[00:14:33.190]You've experienced a terrible leader,
[00:14:37.910]a tyrant that needed to be subdued,
[00:14:41.550]a monster that needed to be defeated.
[00:14:48.980]So in my books,
[00:14:53.454]there are several keywords that I wanted to,
[00:14:58.300]key concepts that I wanted to express.
[00:15:01.090]I wanted to capture people's attention
[00:15:03.620]by highlighting them in the title,
[00:15:08.910]words like indigenous, traditional,
[00:15:21.677]Probably one of the most, I guess, the least, I guess,
[00:15:28.359]one of the words that is underrated is people, human beings.
[00:15:36.230]It's easy to dehumanize a person.
[00:15:39.090]It's much harder to humanize a person,
[00:15:40.970]especially if you come from a culture
[00:15:43.430]or you have a legacy of dehumanizing the people.
[00:15:48.430]Our people have been dehumanized.
[00:15:54.537]And so these books represent part
[00:15:56.630]of that effort to humanize our people.
[00:16:00.871]We have legacies, we have stories,
[00:16:04.570]but even before I can begin telling those stories
[00:16:08.432]and those legacies, I had to reevaluate the form
[00:16:14.700]in which I am presenting it,
[00:16:17.420]the intellectual, academic form.
[00:16:20.700]How do I write a book?
[00:16:22.320]How do I present this material that meets the expectations
[00:16:28.550]of the academy as well as honors the legacy
[00:16:33.320]of my culture and my people?
[00:16:37.250]You hear about methods and methodology,
[00:16:40.890]theories and theoretical approaches
[00:16:43.550]in pretty much every single modern historical text
[00:16:47.720]or academic study.
[00:16:51.470]Basically, methods and methodology is
[00:16:54.370]how you did something, correct?
[00:16:56.470]How did you do it?
[00:16:58.770]Well, the way I did it is I compiled a bunch of research.
[00:17:06.271]I don't know how I did it.
[00:17:07.550]I just did it, and then I'll figure it out later,
[00:17:11.569]and then I'll write the methodology section,
[00:17:14.200]because I'm covering new ground
[00:17:15.780]and some of the methods out there,
[00:17:17.240]they don't really fit with what I'm trying to do,
[00:17:19.261]what I was trying to do.
[00:17:21.457]What I do focus on is the theory, theoretical approach,
[00:17:26.301]the why you do it.
[00:17:27.273]Why do you do something?
[00:17:29.680]Why did I do this?
[00:17:30.513]Why did I write these books?
[00:17:33.740]Our culture, like most Native cultures
[00:17:36.300]in the United States and in Canada,
[00:17:41.840]are in a continual fight for survival.
[00:17:45.160]Our languages are dying out
[00:17:50.818]every time a speaker passes away.
[00:17:56.950]Our worldviews have been marginalized
[00:17:59.850]from the very beginning of,
[00:18:03.988]I guess, the colonization of our lands.
[00:18:09.480]And so my why did I do it
[00:18:14.680]is to help Indian people (indistinct)
[00:18:20.153]And why is that?
[00:18:20.986]Because there's value to it.
[00:18:23.908]It means something.
[00:18:25.930]It may not mean something to a lot of folks,
[00:18:30.570]because maybe they never gave a second thought to it,
[00:18:34.400]that our cultures are valuable
[00:18:36.030]in the sense that they actually can teach people,
[00:18:41.620]all people, how to be a little bit more human.
[00:18:46.900]And what does that mean as well?
[00:18:49.820]Where do humans fit in their existence in the world?
[00:18:57.980]And I answer those questions
[00:18:59.560]from the Cheyenne perspective, from a Native perspective,
[00:19:03.410]and I try to share some fundamental differences
[00:19:09.120]in indigenous cultures when compared to,
[00:19:14.800]I guess, colonial cultures:
[00:19:18.000]brotherhood, for example, or siblinghood,
[00:19:25.080]the relationship that you have with your sibling
[00:19:29.590]and your brother or your sister.
[00:19:33.140]You have to share.
[00:19:35.420]What do you have to share?
[00:19:37.338]Everything, everything, and in fact,
[00:19:40.850]you share so much that you're practically giving away
[00:19:43.743]everything that you have.
[00:19:46.290]That's an indigenous concept.
[00:19:49.269]That's a concept that is rooted
[00:19:53.587]in our indigenous ways and ceremonial practices,
[00:19:59.120]and it's hoped that that concept is learned at an early age
[00:20:02.840]because every child is selfish.
[00:20:06.160]Every child wants more.
[00:20:09.070]Every child doesn't wanna share their toy, food, attention.
[00:20:15.741]That's how humans are, but you can't live like that forever.
[00:20:24.700]For the Cheyenne people and most,
[00:20:28.660]I guess, Northern Plains cultures,
[00:20:31.420]the idea of brotherhood is much different than,
[00:20:35.810]I guess, Western folks, because it's expected
[00:20:39.880]that brotherhood is carried into adulthood.
[00:20:43.230]It's expected that brotherhood is carried
[00:20:46.490]from family to family in a community,
[00:20:49.440]and across communities and across nations,
[00:20:56.290]and as leaders,
[00:20:59.890]or for leaders,
[00:21:02.300]typically the best leaders are also good brothers,
[00:21:05.850]they're good sisters, because they know how to share.
[00:21:09.750]They know how to share decision-making,
[00:21:12.270]they know how to share power,
[00:21:13.960]and they know how to share resources,
[00:21:17.050]and they know how to create and maintain a system
[00:21:22.470]that allows for that sharing to take place.
[00:21:27.930]This is a foundation of indigenous governance.
[00:21:32.900]Can't really be a good leader in Indian community
[00:21:36.630]if you don't know how to share.
[00:21:39.210]In fact, we're finding that out in mainstream culture,
[00:21:43.160]modern culture, that you also can't be a leader,
[00:21:47.380]a good leader, if you're unable to share.
[00:21:51.020]So share a little bit, right?
[00:22:03.090]a sense of belonging that is much more complex
[00:22:08.930]than merely being an Indian
[00:22:15.260]in the sense that you have Indian heritage,
[00:22:22.640]being part of a living nation,
[00:22:28.220]contributing to that nation,
[00:22:33.240]loving that nation,
[00:22:35.090]in fact, viewing that nation as something more than a system
[00:22:40.110]of an economic system or a political system,
[00:22:43.470]but seeing it as a caretaker of you,
[00:22:47.530]a mother, if you will, a living being,
[00:22:51.047]and that nation takes care of you.
[00:22:53.817]You take care of that nation
[00:22:56.770]because you need that nation to survive.
[00:22:59.560]That nation has been around longer than you have,
[00:23:02.160]and hopefully it would be around long after you.
[00:23:07.120]That nation should be able to cooperate with other nations
[00:23:12.580]under the principles of brotherhood and siblinghood.
[00:23:17.600]Our first treaty agreements weren't written.
[00:23:21.710]They were sacred covenants secured through a peace pipe
[00:23:29.880]or a ceremony of two different,
[00:23:34.820]maybe at one point warring tribes that said,
[00:23:38.547]"Hey, we gotta learn how to live together.
[00:23:41.697]"This buffalo herd, this river here,
[00:23:43.877]"this landscape here, we gotta learn how to get along.
[00:23:47.707]"So let's sign that treaty.
[00:23:49.687]"Let's make a union."
[00:23:55.120]Here's where we, in my book and in my research,
[00:24:02.560]I start examining the concept of traditional law
[00:24:06.570]from the Cheyenne perspective and what it means,
[00:24:11.830]as opposed to law being a force
[00:24:18.033]of authority and punishment and power.
[00:24:26.620]That's not the indigenous view of what law is.
[00:24:31.170]Yes, there are components of it.
[00:24:33.854]Indian people didn't,
[00:24:35.570]they had their social problems from time to time
[00:24:39.347]and had to punish folks,
[00:24:43.160]I guess, for lack of better terms,
[00:24:45.940]but the societies depended so much on people's,
[00:24:57.100]own spiritual and intellectual balance,
[00:25:04.620]and when those imbalances occurred,
[00:25:08.160]it was up to a spiritual leader or a law official,
[00:25:14.470]legal official, judge or attorney,
[00:25:17.920]to restore that balance, to restore that
[00:25:21.620]under principles like brotherhood,
[00:25:24.890]under principles of unity,
[00:25:32.940]which is why when we talk about covenants,
[00:25:37.570]why I use the term covenants in my book,
[00:25:43.580]the root of Cheyenne,
[00:25:49.350]at the foundation of Cheyenne law
[00:25:52.480]is this idea of a covenant, which is a promise,
[00:25:57.050]a sacred promise, a promise that,
[00:26:01.850]I think, can be anything,
[00:26:12.190]but at its core, that it is in fact a promise,
[00:26:18.620]and people know what it is,
[00:26:21.670]and they're able to make a conscious promise,
[00:26:24.350]but most importantly, they're able to keep that promise.
[00:26:29.690]That's what makes it a covenant.
[00:26:36.540]So what are your promises, and who are they to,
[00:26:40.807]and what is the value of your promise,
[00:26:44.335]and how complex is your promise,
[00:26:47.950]and does your promise, can your promise be broken,
[00:26:53.410]and what happens if your promise is broken?
[00:26:56.430]What happens to you
[00:26:57.577]and to the person you made that promise to?
[00:27:01.270]What happens to your reputation?
[00:27:12.021]What happens at the end of the day
[00:27:15.650]if you cannot keep a promise,
[00:27:18.200]if it's known that you can never keep a promise?
[00:27:21.570]These are some things that are fundamental
[00:27:25.060]to indigenous governance,
[00:27:26.760]indigenous nationhood, traditional law,
[00:27:29.370]traditional leadership of the Cheyenne people.
[00:27:35.630]Sovereignty as it's understood in mainstream,
[00:27:39.230]I guess, culture has always been about power and control.
[00:27:46.474]It has always been about who has the power,
[00:27:50.342]who has the control and who has the authority.
[00:27:53.490]When Indian nations were signing treaties
[00:27:55.320]with the United States government, it was about control,
[00:28:00.077]it was about resources,
[00:28:03.070]and who had the power to determine who could go where
[00:28:06.330]and who owned what.
[00:28:10.800]From the indigenous perspective,
[00:28:13.460]the focus of the treaties was always
[00:28:17.730]about the promises that were made,
[00:28:20.390]always about what was agreed to,
[00:28:26.050]and that was their view of sovereignty:
[00:28:29.010]a nation's ability to keep a promise,
[00:28:34.351]a nation's ability to make a promise,
[00:28:36.999]and a nation's ability to keep that promise.
[00:28:41.970]So our leaders understood that and signed treaties,
[00:28:46.470]and of course a number of treaties were broken,
[00:28:49.690]and when you have two opposing views,
[00:28:53.360]two opposing worldviews,
[00:28:57.010]you're eventually gonna have conflict,
[00:28:59.730]but you're eventually gonna come to an agreement
[00:29:02.120]and try to make that agreement, and if that doesn't work,
[00:29:06.380]then you're gonna eventually have more conflict,
[00:29:08.870]but when does that conflict end?
[00:29:13.390]In Western culture,
[00:29:14.450]it ends when the weaker party is defeated at all costs,
[00:29:23.050]even if it has been proven
[00:29:26.880]that the victor cannot keep a promise,
[00:29:32.890]even if it means that the victor
[00:29:36.800]could not ever be trusted again.
[00:29:41.010]Is it really a win then?
[00:29:45.610]So these are the types of things that I discuss in my books.
[00:29:51.210]Without giving too much away,
[00:29:52.890]I'd like you guys to read for yourself
[00:29:55.530]how those were developed in our culture,
[00:29:59.590]where they came from.
[00:30:02.650]It matters not really who the heroes were,
[00:30:06.230]just that we had heroes.
[00:30:09.100]It really doesn't matter
[00:30:12.866]if hero A or B is remembered.
[00:30:18.200]What is remembered is their feats,
[00:30:20.150]whatever they had left for us to remember them,
[00:30:25.660]to remember their legacy, what they contributed.
[00:30:31.820]And our nation, the Cheyenne Nation and many nations,
[00:30:38.180]Native nations, is actually quite old.
[00:30:41.870]This other young nation, it's not new.
[00:30:45.003]It's stuff that has been going on.
[00:30:47.840]It's not new.
[00:30:49.350]It's not new to us.
[00:30:50.930]We've seen that before.
[00:30:52.610]We remember it.
[00:30:59.120]Here is where I see a shift
[00:31:01.890]in the consciousness of mainstream culture.
[00:31:06.370]The United States is very new,
[00:31:09.950]and we're still learning as a country.
[00:31:12.710]We're still learning as a people.
[00:31:14.680]Haven't experienced enough,
[00:31:16.930]haven't experienced enough hardship,
[00:31:19.979]and maybe we thought we did,
[00:31:25.450]but it also is a living nation.
[00:31:33.780]It also has citizens,
[00:31:36.180]and its reputation and its sanctity is also determined
[00:31:41.850]on how it can keep a promise,
[00:31:44.010]not only to the other nations, but to itself,
[00:31:48.750]to its own citizens.
[00:31:53.460]As a scholar of Native American history,
[00:31:58.535]I read a lot of theories and methods out there
[00:32:04.300]on how to promote an indigenous voice.
[00:32:11.460]We have a lot of terms that have become very common:
[00:32:16.320]deconstruct history, dismantle it even, decolonize it.
[00:32:25.820]I like to be more on, I guess, the proactive end.
[00:32:30.816]I'd like to revitalize our cultures.
[00:32:34.530]I'd like to reinvigorate our histories and our lifeways.
[00:32:41.090]We wanna see a resurgence of our nations and our peoples,
[00:32:46.529]and I think this is something that may be part of a new way
[00:32:54.530]of approaching Native history and just history in general.
[00:33:00.460]There's a lot of debate going on
[00:33:01.780]about what should and should not be taught in school.
[00:33:09.390]Myself, I really wasn't taught my Native history
[00:33:14.561]the way that I...
[00:33:16.540]Like I said, before, it was always framed
[00:33:18.870]within the paradigm of conflict and fighting.
[00:33:24.142]I remember distinctly as a child, after one class period,
[00:33:29.571]we learned about the defeat
[00:33:32.300]of General George Armstrong Custer,
[00:33:36.740]and that was in our area as Northern Cheyenne kids,
[00:33:43.600]and when the teacher presented the history,
[00:33:49.890]this teacher presented it in a way
[00:33:52.180]that was quite bleak for our people, quite sad,
[00:33:59.450]and almost depressing for us sixth graders at the time,
[00:34:07.520]the tragedy of poor George Armstrong Custer
[00:34:13.720]being annihilated by a bunch of savages
[00:34:18.620]who contributed nothing to the United States of America.
[00:34:29.578]I had to remember that class,
[00:34:32.257]and I remember it distinctly because
[00:34:37.260]that day at lunch recess,
[00:34:39.400]there was about five fistfights
[00:34:41.390]between Indian kids and white kids,
[00:34:46.201]and we came back in and these were kids
[00:34:49.430]that were all friends before that day.
[00:34:59.747]I thought it could have been presented a little bit better.
[00:35:04.640]Us Indian boys didn't like being called savages
[00:35:09.490]that contributed nothing,
[00:35:13.170]and I wasn't involved in the fistfight.
[00:35:15.230]I'm a pacifist.
[00:35:18.750]But with that being said,
[00:35:24.870]these types of incidents I found out were commonplace
[00:35:28.870]in Indian country, in border towns where I went to school,
[00:35:36.660]and the need to change and rewrite history
[00:35:39.780]to provide a better perspective, an indigenous perspective,
[00:35:46.810]it wasn't there just yet.
[00:35:53.260]I've seen it change in my lifetime.
[00:35:56.040]I never thought it would.
[00:35:58.620]People are being more receptive
[00:36:00.240]and more welcoming to the Indian perspective.
[00:36:04.050]Even though during this time period
[00:36:05.950]we have lost so many people
[00:36:09.120]who I would consider amazing indigenous historians,
[00:36:13.600]amazing indigenous scholars who,
[00:36:19.240]pardon my analogy here, but who opened the barbed wire fence
[00:36:25.420]so folks like myself can crawl through
[00:36:30.620]and cut themselves in the process
[00:36:37.570]and had the movement
[00:36:40.410]to accept indigenous voices taking place.
[00:36:46.800]Maybe even just 20 years earlier,
[00:36:49.970]maybe even 10 years earlier,
[00:36:52.300]those historians, their voices would have been heard,
[00:36:58.420]and it would be commonplace to hear an indigenous historian
[00:37:03.040]talk about Native history and Native culture,
[00:37:07.170]Native philosophies, Native beliefs, traditional concepts
[00:37:10.860]of law and sovereignty, indigenous rights.
[00:37:15.730]It'd be common,
[00:37:20.630]which is why I'm really appreciative of this opportunity,
[00:37:26.594]and I'm very humbled with this award
[00:37:33.500]to know that my work, which really isn't my work
[00:37:38.627]if you read how I frame my role as a Native scholar.
[00:37:44.920]The history is there.
[00:37:50.485]Nobody put it together.
[00:37:52.700]So I do my best to build
[00:37:58.970]a nice work of art, if you will,
[00:38:03.420]thanks to those who have left something for me,
[00:38:07.890]left something for my generation,
[00:38:10.030]those who are still alive,
[00:38:12.440]those who continue in my community to live
[00:38:18.485]in accordance with their traditional beliefs
[00:38:21.320]despite being survivors of assimilation policies.
[00:38:29.920]My mother's generation in fact is the last generation
[00:38:33.830]that endured that boarding school policy.
[00:38:41.220]They are still alive.
[00:38:42.220]They're still around.
[00:38:44.760]Of course, we're losing them.
[00:38:51.690]But I wanted to
[00:38:55.980]emphasize that Native historians,
[00:39:00.010]we're out there and we want our voices heard.
[00:39:03.880]A lot of us don't even make it out of high school.
[00:39:11.450]They don't even get into college sometimes.
[00:39:13.760]If they do, they don't make it out of undergrad.
[00:39:16.630]They don't make it out of grad school.
[00:39:19.983]They don't make it out of their PhD program.
[00:39:23.960]They're rarely selected for positions in academy.
[00:39:30.370]They rarely get their books published.
[00:39:34.500]I should note that there were five presses
[00:39:38.080]that denied my books
[00:39:39.150]before they were accepted by Texas Tech,
[00:39:43.700]and I'm glad they accepted it.
[00:39:50.431]It shows a lot that times have changed,
[00:39:53.080]and we just need to do our part as Native scholars,
[00:40:00.510]and easier said than done because, like I said,
[00:40:03.240]there are so many factors involved.
[00:40:08.090]I wanna leave you guys and this discussion
[00:40:17.585]on a positive note.
[00:40:25.310]I'm not done writing.
[00:40:29.210]I love writing,
[00:40:31.900]and if you are a creative person
[00:40:35.710]or have a creative edge somewhere in your mind
[00:40:39.410]or in your heart, I wanna encourage you guys to foster that,
[00:40:47.230]because that's where you find a true sense of being,
[00:40:51.540]a true sense of living, a true sense of existing.
[00:40:58.050]Even if you think
[00:40:58.978]that you don't know what you're doing, create,
[00:41:07.870]and that's kinda where something
[00:41:11.800]that I think about from time to time,
[00:41:15.250]because it's hard to do that
[00:41:17.660]in a world that doesn't necessarily appreciate creation
[00:41:22.880]as much as it appreciates
[00:41:24.520]or loves the thrill of destruction.
[00:41:31.130]But everybody, I think,
[00:41:33.200]has at one point in their life created something,
[00:41:39.070]and if not, they wanted to create something,
[00:41:47.200]and that's where I think you really find,
[00:41:52.090]you really find a true sense of self.
[00:41:55.190]No longer do you have to search for acceptance.
[00:41:59.540]No longer do you have to look for outside recognition,
[00:42:06.540]because you've created something on your own,
[00:42:09.680]and that's how I view my work
[00:42:11.400]and that's how I view these books that you,
[00:42:19.070]that are before us now.
[00:42:21.120]I never thought for a moment
[00:42:23.824]that anyone would read my books.
[00:42:28.200]That wasn't my goal.
[00:42:29.580]My goal was to create something.
[00:42:33.270]I think if my intention was to acquire an audience,
[00:42:37.160]I don't think I would have been,
[00:42:39.290]I don't think I would have created something
[00:42:43.061]as what appears to be a good set of books.
[00:42:49.230]And so I am truly humbled for this award,
[00:42:55.460]and I am truly honored to be part of
[00:43:02.140]the small group of folks
[00:43:04.117]who have been awarded this prestigious award here.
[00:43:10.233]And with that, I don't really have any other wise words
[00:43:15.280]or wisdom to say wise words of wisdom.
[00:43:32.230]So we have about 20 minutes for questions,
[00:43:35.620]and also I wanna let you know
[00:43:37.220]that Dr. Killsback's books are out in the lobby.
[00:43:42.390]You can get copies.
[00:43:43.280]You can get him to sign your copies.
[00:43:46.230]So are there any questions that anyone has?
[00:43:49.990]Dylan over here has a microphone,
[00:43:51.490]so it's helpful to us if you will use the microphone
[00:43:55.290]because we are recording this,
[00:43:56.750]and so the people who are listening in
[00:43:58.940]can hear your questions better that way.
[00:44:05.050]Katie has a question.
[00:44:08.590]Unless someone else wants to go.
[00:44:14.452]Did you always start out trying to do two books,
[00:44:16.950]or how did it become a two-volume set?
[00:44:25.100]I had originally wanted to do one book,
[00:44:31.420]and then I had...
[00:44:34.900]So I shopped it around as one book,
[00:44:37.880]and then I was able to conduct more research,
[00:44:42.490]so I said, "Well, maybe I don't wanna submit it again.
[00:44:46.407]"I got rejected once, and so I'll add more to it.
[00:44:51.299]"Maybe that'll help."
[00:44:53.490]And I kept adding stuff to it and I'm like,
[00:44:55.057]"Man, I can't leave this out.
[00:44:57.622]"I'm creating a web here that,
[00:45:00.303]"and eventually I'm gonna have to connect it all."
[00:45:04.530]And so I submitted a proposal,
[00:45:12.131]and the book was, it was still one book.
[00:45:15.800]It was kind of a lengthy book.
[00:45:19.630]I don't feel so bad now
[00:45:21.080]because I've seen some books that are 600 pages
[00:45:24.000]and stuff like that, so it's history.
[00:45:26.440]As historians, we like to get things right.
[00:45:29.940]We need to make sure that we cite everything
[00:45:32.740]and tell the story
[00:45:33.700]so there's little room for misunderstanding, right?
[00:45:41.743]I adapted it to be two books
[00:45:44.890]because I didn't want it to be too long,
[00:45:47.210]and I said, "Well, I can publish one book now
[00:45:50.597]"and then publish it later.
[00:45:53.147]"They're both done, so I'll see what the presses say,"
[00:45:58.310]and so I submitted it.
[00:45:59.290]This is after I submitted to other presses as one book,
[00:46:02.320]and then I submitted to,
[00:46:03.480]I finally submitted to Texas Tech and got the call back
[00:46:07.260]and they wanted to invite it for publication and review,
[00:46:10.770]and I was like, "Wow, okay."
[00:46:12.960]During the time, they had a transition in leadership,
[00:46:15.950]and they recommended because of that transition,
[00:46:20.507]"You gotta put it back into one book."
[00:46:22.600]So I edited it back into one book,
[00:46:25.290]and my original contract said two books, but I was like,
[00:46:29.062]"I just wanna get some stuff out there
[00:46:31.507]"and publisher perish," right?
[00:46:35.290]And then I was like, "You know what?
[00:46:36.497]"It's really not working for me."
[00:46:38.020]I talked to my editor,
[00:46:39.197]"I think we can keep it with two books.
[00:46:41.977]"What do you think?
[00:46:43.923]"I'm really, really open to people's suggestions
[00:46:47.747]"'cause then I can make it two books and just submit one."
[00:46:51.270]You know what the editor said?
[00:46:53.545]"Let's go ahead and do two books."
[00:46:56.530]I'm like, "Okay, sure, why not?
[00:46:59.207]"It's never been done before
[00:47:00.177]"except for George Bird Grinnell
[00:47:02.677]"had his two volumes on Cheyenne history
[00:47:04.647]"and Father Peter Powell had,"
[00:47:06.470]I think that's all he writes in his two volumes
[00:47:10.250]'cause he's got his latest work
[00:47:12.780]on the likeness of the sun, the art book.
[00:47:15.610]That's a two-volume book as well,
[00:47:17.490]but he had "Sweet Medicine"
[00:47:18.720]and "People of the Sacred Mountain,"
[00:47:19.920]both of which I have learned a lot from,
[00:47:22.870]but my books are different in scope
[00:47:26.310]and completely different in the way that it's formatted.
[00:47:32.100]So I was surprised, yeah, but then I was like,
[00:47:34.237]"Okay, two books," and it worked out that way.
[00:47:39.369]I think maybe because as a historian and as a new historian,
[00:47:46.140]part of the challenges that I've faced was
[00:47:48.930]that I've always had to answer questions,
[00:47:53.860]and there was always a lot of room
[00:47:57.400]for some reason for misunderstanding
[00:47:59.190]so I had to make sure that I better talk about this
[00:48:03.028]and talk about that to make sure
[00:48:04.148]that people don't misunderstand this or misinterpret it,
[00:48:09.057]but it came out to be a very thorough,
[00:48:14.720]thorough project, rich, and
[00:48:20.650]I was humbled that one reviewer,
[00:48:24.310]the former director of the American Indian College Fund,
[00:48:28.150]which is responsible for a lot of funding
[00:48:32.230]for tribal colleges and tribal college students,
[00:48:36.140]Richard Williams, he said it was
[00:48:39.630]probably the best book he's read in his life,
[00:48:42.870]and I was like, "That is an amazing compliment,
[00:48:45.857]"and are you just saying that, buddy?"
[00:48:50.193]To me, that says something that I wanted to write something
[00:48:55.622]that everybody could read, everybody could understand,
[00:49:00.820]but in particular, my own Native people
[00:49:04.840]and my own people from my own community,
[00:49:07.523]because we don't necessarily have a...
[00:49:12.520]We don't have a library in my community.
[00:49:17.033]We have one at the tribal college,
[00:49:18.110]which is 20 miles away, but we don't have a strong,
[00:49:21.890]I guess, literary culture,
[00:49:27.765]and I wanted to adhere to our traditional storytelling
[00:49:34.820]and oral traditions while providing something
[00:49:37.840]that could be appreciated for everybody.
[00:49:42.090]Great question though.
[00:49:48.990]I just wanted to make a comment,
[00:49:51.690]which is a great segue
[00:49:52.870]with how you just ended your remarks.
[00:49:54.390]So I haven't read your books yet,
[00:49:57.130]but listening to you speak
[00:49:58.963]and just getting to know you today,
[00:50:01.440]meeting somebody who's very new
[00:50:03.150]to Nebraska (indistinct) to university,
[00:50:07.190]a lot of what you said really did reach me
[00:50:09.910]and inspired me in a new position that I've taken on.
[00:50:13.630]I want to be, I need to be a strong
[00:50:16.100]and fair and good leader.
[00:50:19.770]The words that you used about that, making that covenant,
[00:50:22.870]and who are you making covenants with,
[00:50:24.183]I took that very much to heart,
[00:50:26.840]not just in my personal relationships,
[00:50:29.107]but these new relationships that I'm forming
[00:50:34.297]with the staff that I'm committed to
[00:50:36.600]and I hope are committed to our mission.
[00:50:38.950]So I just wanna say thank you.
[00:50:39.850]I was just very nicely inspired by your words today.
[00:50:46.680]Thanks for that.
[00:50:51.490]So you wrote your book
[00:50:52.930]to preserve your culture and for your people.
[00:50:58.327]How are you disseminating that amongst your people
[00:51:02.580]and others that might see it as a foundation
[00:51:05.131]for helping to learn indigenous and restore indigenous ways,
[00:51:10.370]so this is an academic scholarly book
[00:51:12.671]that serves also a different purpose?
[00:51:15.910]Great question, great question.
[00:51:19.710]One good thing about being a young person is
[00:51:24.360]I got good credit, so I put a lot of,
[00:51:28.760]probably put about a hundred books on my credit card and
[00:51:34.630]mailed them out to various elders
[00:51:38.520]who've helped me along the way and folks who are interested.
[00:51:41.190]I don't tell everybody that because then they'd be,
[00:51:42.940]"Hey, I want a copy too."
[00:51:44.960]So I try to send copies to folks who send copies.
[00:51:48.095]I did that early on,
[00:51:54.416]but it is really challenging
[00:51:56.540]because my books did come out during a pandemic,
[00:52:00.480]and folks in my community, especially close relatives
[00:52:05.710]and friends were aware of my research
[00:52:07.900]because I would discuss it with them frequently,
[00:52:13.320]but I haven't had very many opportunities,
[00:52:19.360]say, for example, like a book signing,
[00:52:22.160]but the folks who did receive those books,
[00:52:28.120]and I continue to do that when I balance my checkbook.
[00:52:32.640]Is that still a thing?
[00:52:33.575]People don't balance checkbooks anymore, right?
[00:52:37.170]I try to send these books out to as many people as I can
[00:52:41.880]because they've helped me, whether they know it or not,
[00:52:45.200]and they've known me since I was a,
[00:52:47.420]as they would say, a little guy.
[00:52:50.850]And so they're appreciative of it too, and they may,
[00:52:55.120]that may be the first time someone gifted them
[00:52:59.187]a two-volume book,
[00:53:03.620]and it's there for them and I'm there to serve them.
[00:53:10.340]I maintain that, try to maintain that connection while I,
[00:53:17.041]like I said, I don't wanna be exploitative to my own people
[00:53:19.363]and my own culture.
[00:53:23.940]And I've seen some interest in,
[00:53:25.870]hey, this is a new story or a story
[00:53:29.694]that I've never heard about before,
[00:53:31.440]or this is a concept or a practice
[00:53:34.002]that I think we can try to reinvigorate it,
[00:53:39.282]try to bring it back.
[00:53:41.150]We had a traditional wedding,
[00:53:43.050]a Cheyenne wedding that I was a part of.
[00:53:48.850]They wanted some insight on
[00:53:49.807]how to approach this traditional Cheyenne wedding.
[00:53:54.630]My brother, in fact, was getting married,
[00:53:57.210]but his wife, his wife to be was
[00:54:00.000]from a different nation, a different tribe.
[00:54:03.050]So how did we do that back in the day?
[00:54:05.860]What was the outcome?
[00:54:07.710]What did that mean?
[00:54:10.260]How did we secure that union in a manner that was sacred?
[00:54:19.870]That was probably the biggest instance,
[00:54:23.010]and there's other small instances
[00:54:25.724]where I've contributed as an academic.
[00:54:28.340]It may not be directly from my book,
[00:54:30.387]but as a researcher and as someone who's an advocate
[00:54:32.840]for cultural revitalization and language revitalization,
[00:54:36.647]but that's a great question.
[00:54:49.316]I have a question. (laughs)
[00:54:56.956]Hello, and my question is, what are you working on next?
[00:55:02.760]I'd love to know more about what you're writing.
[00:55:07.635]I've got too much stuff that I'm working on.
[00:55:12.600]So I'm really into our oral traditions,
[00:55:17.060]and not exclusively oral traditions,
[00:55:22.870]but stuff that has been recorded.
[00:55:24.800]So in my initial research for these two books,
[00:55:27.220]I found a lot of unpublished stuff
[00:55:30.020]that I think is very valuable to know,
[00:55:32.460]maybe anecdotal stories, but short stories.
[00:55:35.730]So I have a compilation of those,
[00:55:37.367]and with those I have sort of a discussion for each one
[00:55:42.270]of what the possible significance of those stories are,
[00:55:46.230]and there's one that's gonna be exclusively in...
[00:55:52.250]There's one that's exclusively gonna be English,
[00:55:54.410]and another one that's gonna be in the Cheyenne language
[00:55:57.690]because they were recorded somehow 100 years ago,
[00:56:01.030]approaching 120 years ago in the Cheyenne language.
[00:56:05.590]So me being a linguist, but not a formally trained linguist,
[00:56:11.170]but a linguist of our language,
[00:56:14.590]I'd like to find a way to get that,
[00:56:19.310]to put those down, not only in English
[00:56:21.285]and not only with the old written English,
[00:56:22.820]but the current language, written language that we have now.
[00:56:27.405]Those are actually two different books, two different,
[00:56:29.570]and I'm happy to say that I do have a contract
[00:56:32.257]for those books with University of Nebraska Press.
[00:56:39.813]I just need to get 'er done.
[00:56:45.353]There was a question (indistinct)
[00:56:48.635]That was a great Nebraska reference-
[00:56:56.855]I enjoyed the talk very much.
[00:57:00.380]I'm wondering, I'm curious, I guess, about your thoughts,
[00:57:04.510]whether you interact with or overlap
[00:57:08.680]with the archeological paradigms
[00:57:12.520]that one comes across in discussing
[00:57:16.570]or learning about indigenous cultures.
[00:57:18.360]I'm thinking of course about that remarkable revelation
[00:57:23.529]in the White Sands National Park this week,
[00:57:28.210]human footprints that could only be indigenous peoples
[00:57:33.440]and how they connect with the living people
[00:57:36.564]on the North American continent and elsewhere today.
[00:57:41.870]What kind of interaction do you have
[00:57:44.822]with the archeological community or (indistinct)
[00:57:51.493]Short answer, I don't really have a, I guess,
[00:57:54.490]a connection with the archeological community directly.
[00:57:58.160]I have worked with our tribal historic preservation office
[00:58:01.210]from time to time on certain aspects
[00:58:03.930]of identifying cultural objects
[00:58:06.230]and sometimes places and protecting
[00:58:08.980]and preserving sacred places,
[00:58:11.130]but the recent revelation is something
[00:58:14.070]that I think in the indigenous community
[00:58:16.680]isn't that revelation at all.
[00:58:18.880]We've been saying that we've been here
[00:58:20.430]since time immemorial, which basically means forever.
[00:58:24.060]So if we can imagine, like today,
[00:58:27.190]nowadays we can't even imagine 20 years.
[00:58:30.490]I guess the pandemic has slowed us down a lot,
[00:58:32.740]but we can't really imagine 20 years back
[00:58:35.470]and 20 years ahead.
[00:58:36.330]Some of us older folks can, but as a society as a whole,
[00:58:40.060]we don't necessarily think in periods of time that large.
[00:58:46.690]Relatively speaking, and I mentioned this,
[00:58:48.640]the United States is a very young nation.
[00:58:51.060]It's very young.
[00:58:52.220]It's in its infancy, in fact.
[00:58:55.330]Some of these nations have been around
[00:58:56.740]for thousands of years.
[00:58:58.720]We can track the history of our nation back
[00:59:01.030]at least 1,000 years, not just archeologically,
[00:59:04.495]but culturally, culturally and spiritually.
[00:59:08.790]So there's this author, I'm sure you're familiar with him.
[00:59:11.130]His name was Vine Deloria Jr.,
[00:59:12.417]and he was talking about "Red Earth, White Lies"
[00:59:15.340]and "God Is Red" and all these other books
[00:59:18.643]that were coming out in the 90s,
[00:59:20.980]which were contesting theories like the Bering Strait theory
[00:59:25.400]and the mass extinction,
[00:59:27.330]and basically the assault on indigenous peoples
[00:59:30.590]and indigenous cultures in labeling indigenous peoples
[00:59:34.367]and indigenous cultures as newcomers, and not only that,
[00:59:38.260]they're predisposed to mass overkill and overhunting.
[00:59:43.850]So he was really the contentious,
[00:59:48.850]I guess the, quote, controversial figure at the time,
[00:59:52.210]but archeology and these other disciplines
[00:59:55.960]are catching up to, I guess,
[00:59:59.450]what he was trying to say all along.
[01:00:02.020]So in our oral traditions,
[01:00:04.550]we do have stories about megafauna, if you will,
[01:00:09.650]about migrations, but never once do we believe
[01:00:14.400]that we crossed the Bering Strait
[01:00:20.326]at the last ice age,
[01:00:22.491]and I just got done teaching a class on this too,
[01:00:24.410]because people don't travel east to west when it's cold.
[01:00:29.890]They travel north to south,
[01:00:32.830]and there's so many other factors that are involved.
[01:00:37.400]So I think that is something
[01:00:39.810]that the discipline of Native American studies
[01:00:43.540]needs to also harness,
[01:00:45.780]because obviously it's a discussion that is lively now,
[01:00:50.420]but it has been lively in our discipline
[01:00:53.500]for quite some time.
[01:00:55.500]Great question though.
[01:01:01.900]I think this will be the last question
[01:01:04.120]and then we'll have some time for Dr. Killsback
[01:01:07.020]to sign some books.
[01:01:08.780]Okay, well, my question is probably...
[01:01:12.221]Well, I don't know if it's very hard to answer.
[01:01:14.890]I'm (indistinct) heard that you started out in mathematics.
[01:01:19.650]What happened in your life that you said,
[01:01:22.367]"Look, I'm gonna be a writer about my background now,
[01:01:26.127]"about my people."
[01:01:27.560]That would interest me.
[01:01:31.460]I think for a lot of Native folks,
[01:01:34.970]Native youth, even to this day,
[01:01:40.010]we are conditioned to believe
[01:01:41.840]that the route to success is in the STEM fields,
[01:01:49.660]and it's assumed that that's the only thing you can do.
[01:01:57.327]You can't do anything else.
[01:02:00.840]So when I first entered as an undergrad,
[01:02:05.270]I was a computer science major,
[01:02:07.920]and I quickly changed my major to mathematics
[01:02:12.880]because I wanted to teach.
[01:02:14.660]That was kinda my future.
[01:02:15.493]I wanna teach students.
[01:02:16.730]I wanna teach Native students primarily.
[01:02:20.160]Then as I continued on, I was like,
[01:02:21.217]"Well, this history stuff..."
[01:02:24.950]I had these professors that weren't saying very kind things
[01:02:28.050]about Native people, especially when it came to buffalo,
[01:02:34.000]going back to some of the discussions
[01:02:35.450]about mass extinction and overkill.
[01:02:41.120]We're a buffalo people, and as Cheyennes,
[01:02:44.510]we really hold Bison bison sacred, buffalo,
[01:02:50.550]and it's in our oral tradition.
[01:02:52.323]It's in our history.
[01:02:53.560]It's in our lifeways.
[01:02:55.740]It's in our ongoing ceremonial practices.
[01:02:58.650]And so when I hear and I see them,
[01:03:01.427]and I had to read books that say that Indians just,
[01:03:05.858]they just killed buffalo
[01:03:06.890]'cause they didn't really have any connection,
[01:03:09.600]and here I am thinking when I was in kindergarten,
[01:03:12.820]even then, even though I went to a school that was...
[01:03:15.570]I went to school on a reservation.
[01:03:19.750]It wasn't like an immersion school,
[01:03:24.360]but we had cultural teachings in there,
[01:03:26.770]and from what I got, we never treated buffalo
[01:03:31.011]in that sense, in that manner,
[01:03:32.347]in the way that was depicted, overkill.
[01:03:36.020]And then they always talk about buffalo jumping.
[01:03:40.540]There were so many buffalo here,
[01:03:41.640]and if you killed 200 buffalo jump,
[01:03:43.540]say, for example, in one killing,
[01:03:48.060]the meat is gonna last you for a couple months
[01:03:49.970]'cause people knew how to dry it,
[01:03:51.830]and that's not gonna put any dent in the bison population,
[01:03:57.400]considering how massive that population was.
[01:03:59.670]It was huge.
[01:04:01.680]Plus, the birth rate was so high.
[01:04:03.760]So things like that, it got me thinking.
[01:04:07.590]My mind is a mathematical mind.
[01:04:09.330]I just got done teaching you math right there.
[01:04:13.186]You see that?
[01:04:14.567]And then I'm just like, "Hold up.
[01:04:18.837]"I think somebody needs to be working on this
[01:04:21.347]"because from what you're telling me,
[01:04:22.197]"nobody's working on it,
[01:04:23.147]"'cause you're feeding this information out
[01:04:25.227]"and it's being widely accepted,
[01:04:28.287]"when mathematically it's quite impossible.
[01:04:32.717]"Not only that, culturally and spiritually,
[01:04:34.927]"it is quite impossible.
[01:04:39.391]"How do those two work together
[01:04:40.567]"in creating the data, creating the conclusions?"
[01:04:43.920]So I finished out my math degree
[01:04:45.690]'cause I was on a STEM scholarship.
[01:04:48.680]Got a couple minors in Native studies, history and teaching
[01:04:51.290]and went on to grad school, 'cause I wanted to...
[01:04:54.540]Grad school, I guess, is for something else,
[01:04:57.190]but I wanted to do history basically.
[01:05:02.600]That's how historians taught me.
[01:05:03.869]Do some history (indistinct)
[01:05:06.440]That's sort of my path.
[01:05:12.408](man speaks indistinctly)
[01:05:14.950]I still do math.
[01:05:15.979]I still do math sometimes.
[01:05:24.830]You already did, but I would just ask you
[01:05:26.018]to give another round of applause for our wonderful speaker-
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