Native American and Indigenous Perspectives
Scholarship, education, and creativity in MIT's humanistic fields


MIT expands commitment to Indigenous scholarship and community

The Institute's new commitments build on insights from scholarship and student research in 21H.283, a SHASS course that explores how MIT’s history intersects with the broader history of oppression of Native Americans. There is limitless potential in making a better world through partnerships between MIT and Indigenous nations, people, and communities,” says Alvin Harvey, MIT Aero/Astro PhD student and member of the Navajo Nation.

Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News
Letter from President Reif



Living Climate Futures event shows a holistic way forward on the climate crisis

Natural world philosophies were one highlight of the two-day symposium.

Story by MIT Anthropology



World premiere: Charles Shadle's Symphony No.4

Shadle's symphony, an homage to his father and American lands, starts at 59:00 on the webcast.

Webcast: Symphony No.4 | Composer's commentary
Related: Choctaw Animals



The Language of Change | Ryan Conti '23
Undergraduate student in Philosophy

Preparing for a career advancing the science and policy of climate issues, Conti focuses on math, computer science, and the philosophy of language. As a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Conti is also pursuing another linguistic passion: he says that working to revitalize the endangered Chickasaw language “could be one of the most important things I do with my life.”

Story by MIT SHASS Communications



The Indigenous History of MIT / 21H.283

Taught by Dr. David Shane Lowry ‘07
Distinguished Fellow in Native American Studies 


Lowry, SB ’07, in Anthropology, has returned to MIT as a Distinguished Fellow in Native American Studies, based in the MIT History section. In this role, Lowry, a member of the Lumbee Tribe, is leading a conversation about the responsibilities of MIT (and sci/tech education generally) in the legacy of injustices to Native American peoples. In Lowry’s course, students also focus on how Indigenous peoples have influenced the rise and empowerment of MIT. 


Interview by SHASS Communications | About 21H.283 | Lowry webpage


Saving Iñupiaq | Annauk Denise Olin
Graduate student in Linguistics

Olin, a graduate student in Linguistics, is working to help her Alaska Native community preserve their language and navigate the severe impact of climate change on their coastal village.

Story by MIT SHASS Communications



Cultural Inheritance
IAP Workshop

In a unique workshop, students explore and honor their personal histories.

Story at MIT News



A Voice for Native Voices | Leah Lemm ‘04
S.B. in Economics, Minor in Writing 


After earning a degree in Economics and a minor in Writing at MIT, Leah Lemm ’04, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe tribe, studied music production and engineering, and gained expertise at Minnesota Public Radio. Lemm now produces radio segments and podcasts that examine media portrayals of Native people: she reports for the weekly MPR segment Minnesota Native News, and, with her brother, hosts and produces the podcast Native Lights: Where Indigenous Voices Shine


Story by MIT Alumni Association



Two-Eyed Seeing | Patricia Saulis 
MLK Visiting Scholar, 2020-21

In this interview, Saulis, MLK Visiting Scholar and Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, discusses drawing on both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to develop more sustainable ways to live on the planet. 

Story by SHASS Communications


Jesse Little Doe Baird, SM '00

Jessie LIttle Doe Baird SM'00 receives 2010 MacArthur Fellowship


Award honors her work to revive Wampanoag (Wôpanâak), a language once spoken by tens of thousands of people, which became extinct in the 19th century.

Story at SHASS Communications




MIT composer Charles Shadle releases "Choctaw Animals," honoring his Native American heritage.

Shadle is arguably the most visible living classical composer in the Choctaw Nation, and he does not want to be the last. Thinking of young Choctaw children in rural communities he says, “To some extent, I can say, you could be a composer too. Your voice can be heard.”

Story by MIT SHASS Communications



Endangered Languages

"Exploring the full range of human languages is to the linguist what examining the abundance of species on the planet is to the biologist. There may well be crucial questions about the structure of human language that can only be answered by working with, say, speakers of Navajo."  

— David Pesetsky
Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics, MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

Story by MIT SHASS Communications

The true story of the first Thanksgiving and what it meant

Commentary by Jesse Little Doe Baird in The Boston Globe


Award-winning film:
Âs Nutayuneân
We Still Live Here

Created by filmmaker Anne Makepeace, "We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneântells the story of the reclamation of the Wampanoag language—the first time a language with no native speakers has been revived in this country. The successful work of the Wampanoag people to restore their language and culture has been led by MIT linguistics alum and recent MacArthur recipient, Jessie Little Doe Baird.  

Watch the trailer  |  Watch the film




Two editions of the Eliot Indian Bible were the first Bibles published in America.

Above: Title page of MIT’s second-edition copy of the Eliot Indian Bible, published in 1685. The two editions of the Eliot Indian Bible were the first and only Bibles printed in America until the Revolutionary War disrupted transAtlantic commerce. 


Right: A copy of the 1663 edition

The Eliot Bible


A rare book in MIT’s archives helps linguists revive a long-unused Native American language.

Story in Technology Review




The Worldviews of Indigenous and Western Science

For journalist Jodi Rave Spotted Bear, an encounter with the remains of a centuries-old Hidatsa village spoke to the inseparability of science and culture.

Story at Knight Science Journalism at MIT

June 2021


Image: A stone kiosk marks the site of the Molander Indian Village Historic Site in North Dakota. Credit: Jodi Rave Spotted Bear



Series prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Series Editor and Designer: Emily Hiestand, Communication Director
Publication Assistant: Alison Lanier, Senior Communications Associate