Robert Warrior and Indigenous Intellectual Health: A Recap

On Tuesday, October 20th, the University of Kansas welcomed Robert Warrior as he spoke on his latest research at the Hall Center for the Humanities. Dr. Stephanie Fitzgerald, professor of Native American literature at KU, had the honor of introducing Dr. Warrior. The presentation, titled “Reading for Indigenous Intellectual Health: Some Methodological Considerations,” drew a large crowd from the University of Kansas community, students and faculty alike. Intellectual Health is a term that embodies, but is not limited to, language revitalization, strengthening of community, and a healing knowledge (taking root both in body and in mind).

During his presentation, Dr. Warrior applied the concept of Indigenous Intellectual Health to three literary texts: Richard Van Camp’s The Lesser Blessed, Charles Eastman’s From the Deep Woods to Civilization, and Leslie Silko’s Ceremony. At work in the texts, Dr. Warrior pointed out, is a methodological tension of a response to modernity. He gave the example of the Osage dancers being chosen by a group of advisors, and how this demonstrates a collaboration of cultural history that serves as a vehicle for advancing and continuing the tribal history. The concept of Indigenous Intellectual Health can similarly be observed by reading indigenous writings.

Robert Warrior is currently a professor of English and history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he is also the director of American Indian Studies. He is the author of The People and the Word: Reading Native Nonfiction, American Indian Literary Nationalism, Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, and Tribal Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions. He is also an author of the edited collection Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective, along with many other impressive works and accolades. Dr. Warrior is a candidate for the Hall Distinguished Professorship in American Literature and Culture.

[by Matthew Broussard]