Indigenous Art and Activism in Changing Climates: The Mississippi River Valley, Colonialism, and Environmental Change

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal seeks funding to create a collaborative, interdisciplinary research project to study Indigenous Art and Activism in Changing Climates. Faculty and graduate students will combine disciplinary expertise and site resources to study the Mississippi River Valley as a bellwether of changing climates, which Indigenous art and activism harnesses and contests. We focus both on environmental change along the river valley and on changing climates of colonialism, the shifting racial, economic, political, and intellectual climates that have attempted to justify claims to the river valley and re-engineer its flows. Amidst these changing climates, the river valley’s Indigenous people create art and resistance that engages the river; they exert their continued rights to their homelands, settlers’ claims to land and water and efforts at removal notwithstanding. We propose to follow the river and its flows of goods, information, people, and pollutants to study the art and activism with which Indigenous people confront life in the midst of but not defined by changing climates. Collaborative, embodied research is central to our work, which seeks not simply to reproduce participant expertise but to generate new intellectual frameworks and areas of study. We propose three meetings, held along the river valley, and a concluding symposium and edited collection. Project advisors and consultants will lead activities on methodologies for studying changing climates and their import for Indigenous art and activism. We will work with graduate students as equal partners and share our research with undergraduates.
Effective start/end date1/1/185/31/22


  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (079528-16845 // 41500610)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (079528-16845 // 41500610)


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