Skip to main content

Center for Native American and Indigenous Research

The Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) is Northwestern University’s primary institutional space dedicated to advancing scholarship, teaching, learning, and artistic or cultural practices related to Native American and Indigenous communities, priorities, histories, and lifeways. The Center operates as a hub for multi-disciplinary, collaborative work informed by and responsive to Native American and Indigenous nations, communities, and organizations. We foster an innovative and Indigenous-centered intellectual space that is open to multiple modes of engagement for faculty, students, staff, and community members. The Center commits to developing and promoting reciprocal and sovereignty-affirming relationships and partnerships with Native American and Indigenous communities. The Center acknowledges the Indigenous peoples of the lands on which Northwestern University sits, as well as the University’s historical relationship with the Cheyenne and Arapaho.

For more information, visit the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research website

History of Indigenous Studies Research Initiative

Adrian Randolph, dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, has announced the creation of the Indigenous Studies Research Initiative. The full text of the announcement follows.   

As a positive and forward-looking response to the recommendations that emerged from the November 2014 report of Northwestern University’s Native American Outreach and Inclusion Task Force, we are pleased to announce a Weinberg College-led Indigenous Studies Research Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to build a critical mass of scholars working in the field of Indigenous Studies broadly construed. At the outset this initiative will not establish a center or institute. Rather, the goal is to create a flexible structure within which individual scholars might thrive, and a vibrant and supportive intellectual community will naturally emerge.

Current implementation of this initiative will proceed along three tracks. First, we have received approval to launch two new, institute-linked, multi-departmental junior faculty searches, one in the area of social disparities (linked to the Institute for Policy Research) and the other in the area of creativity, history, and/or cultural expression (linked to the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities). Search committees guided by both institutes are now being formed, and they will remain active until these two positions are filled. These searches will be closely coordinated between the two institutes, will have broad definitions, and will be open to departments across the University. Second, we will concurrently work on appointing postdoctoral fellows in the areas of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Finally, we will challenge departments to identify talented, tenured colleagues outside the University who might consider joining the Northwestern faculty as a leader of this initiative. We anticipate that these new faculty and postdoctoral fellows will join our current faculty in designing and offering courses for undergraduate and graduate students related to indigenous studies across a variety of departments of the University.

As this initiative gains momentum, we will work to ensure that Native American/Indigenous Studies at Northwestern is closely aligned and coordinated with other Chicago-area resources in this field. These resources include the D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library, The American Indian Center of Chicago, and the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, among others.  It is our hope that through our collective efforts, we will make Northwestern University, as well as greater Chicago, centers of research and learning in the important and emerging field of Native American and Indigenous Studies.

The College committee whose report played a role in developing this initiative included the following: Frances Aparicio (Spanish and Portuguese),  Geraldo Cadava (History), William Leonard (Anthropology), John David Marquez (African American Studies), Douglas Medin (Psychology), Nitasha Tamar Sharma (African American Studies) and Ji-Yeon Yuh (History).