2022 Symposium

2022 Symposium






Supported by

The Center for Great Plains Studies


  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Chancellor
  • Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • Office of Research & Economic Development
  • College of Law
  • College of Education and Human Sciences
  • Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts
  • Institute of Ethnic Studies
  • UNL Libraries
  • Diversity Officers Collaborative

Outside UNL:

  • University of Nebraska at Kearney
  • Humanities Nebraska
  • The Cooper Foundation

Co-sponsored by our UNL partners:

The Environmental Studies Program

Department of English

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Department of Communication Studies

Department of Sociology

School of Global Integrative Studies

Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs

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A Year of Reckoning and Reconciliation

Conversation, Learning, and Connecting

The 2022 Center for Great Plains Studies conference has shifted to a yearlong series of events to give ample time to an important topic. The series, “A Year of Reckoning and Reconciliation: Conversation, Learning and Connecting,” invites participants to recognize the Great Plains’ complex history and then imagine and build new relationships and communities based on respect and dignity for all. Topics include land dispossession and return, racial violence and repair, and environmental harm and justice.

Events spread throughout 2022 will allow for engagement and connection at both in-person and virtual events. This allows us to be flexible during the pandemic, but also acknowledges that reconciliation is a process that needs continued examination and ample time to develop. Using reckoning and reconciliation as a theme for the year will allow us to create a community of invested people interested in new ideas, connections, and actions.

These events will be free to all participants, who may go to as many events as they’d like.

Participation is easy. Sign up below to receive all event details via email. Some events may require an additional sign up.


About the series

The series asks how residents of the Great Plains can best reckon with the violence, conflict, and abuse that has occurred in our region and move toward healing, justice, and reconciliation. It invites us to remember and honor the painful past, and then to imagine and build new relationships and communities based on respect and dignity for all.

People on the Great Plains have suffered dispossession, exile, violence, discrimination, exclusion, exploitation, forcible assimilation, and family separation. Typical accounts of the region often downplay or erase these events. Yet past abuses have contributed to current disparities and inequalities, and our failure to confront them has limited our possibilities to create a fully inclusive and thriving society.

This series will reckon with the past while also highlighting the resiliency of people, cultures, and communities moving forward. These events are designed for community members and organizers, local and regional leaders, students, student groups, the academic community, and anyone curious about these issues.

Upcoming events


Black Homesteaders in Oklahoma: Kalenda Eaton and Heidi Dodson, virtual

October 27, 5:30 p.m. CST

Join the Oklahoma Black Homesteader Project research team for a public talk on Black homesteaders in Oklahoma Territory. The presentation will discuss the process of researching and locating specific homesteading families. There will be a focus on select counties and a preview of new archival research that expands common understandings of the Black homesteading experience.

Past events


Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Sept. 30 at noon Central 

Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot will speak at the Center for Great Plains Studies on reconciliation efforts in Canada as part of the Center's year-long focus on reckoning and reconciliation in the Great Plains.  This event is presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis, which represents Canada in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Sept. 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.

The talk is titled "An Invitation to Boldness: UNDRIP as the Framework for Reconciliation in Canada."

In its 2015 final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued an invitation to boldness, calling on all levels of government and civil society to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Canada. By linking reconciliation exclusively to the implementation of the UNDRIP, the collective vision of what is possible has significantly expanded, and many sectors of Canadian government and society have embraced this opportunity for transformative thinking.

Lightfoot (Anishinaabe, Lake Superior Band) is Canada Research Chair of Global Indigenous Rights and Politics at the University of British Columbia, where she holds faculty appointments in Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs as well as an association with the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. She serves as the Vice Chair and North American Member on the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) as well as Senior Advisor to the UBC President on Indigenous Affairs, where she is the lead on UBC's Indigenous Strategic Plan and directs the Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives. She is currently President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). Her research focuses on Indigenous global politics, especially Indigenous rights and their implementation in global, national and regional contexts.


Otoe-Missouri Proclamation Day and Celebration

Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.

Lincoln mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird will proclaim Sept. 21 Otoe-Missouria Day and welcome members of the tribal nation back to their ancestral homelands at a special ceremony at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1155 Q St. The event is open to all.

The Proclamation represents a major first step in fostering greater education and awareness about the Indigenous peoples who lived in present-day Lincoln and Lancaster County and in promoting reconciliation between the city and the Otoe-Missouria nation.


Reckoning and Reconciliation in Education: In-person conference, Sept. 15, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Nebraska Union, 1400 R St., Lincoln, Neb.

This combination of keynote presentations, panels, and workshops explores how education can promote a greater reckoning with the Great Plains' complex history and build new relationships based on respect and dignity for all. This conference will cover topics from the historical trauma of Indian boarding schools to current efforts to diversify the teaching force and institute more representative and inclusive curricula.

Special presentations involving reconciliation in education with keynotes by:

Dr. Mirelsie Velázquez, an associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Rainbolt Family Endowed Education Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma. Title: En el centro también vivimos: Latina/o/x Histories, Memory, and Community Building Beyond the Coasts. Watch now

Samuel B. Torres and Stephen R. Curley from the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Title: The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition's Work for Transformative Justice. Watch now

This event is free and open to the public and includes lunch, but registration is required. Keynotes will be recorded and posted after the event.



Reckoning and Reconciliation Summer Study and Discussion Circle: Three-part virtual event

Many people who attended the Reckoning and Reconciliation on the Great Plains Summit from April 6-8 have expressed a desire to further explore the issues that emerged and to continue the conversations about how we can promote healing and reconciliation.

To help facilitate further discussion, we are sponsoring a Summer Study and Discussion Circle. We will be listening to Walter Echo-Hawk’s keynote presentation from April 6 and reading his book, In the Light of Justice: The Rise of Human Rights in Native America and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Then we will hold several online gatherings to discuss Mr. Echo-Hawk’s ideas and how to apply them in our own communities, organizations, and institutions. Margaret Jacobs, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies and a professor of History will facilitate the Circle. Indigenous activists, leaders, legal experts, and writers will join each of the sessions.

June 23, July 7, Aug. 11, 5:30-7 p.m. 


Reconciliation 101: Virtual event, Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m. CT

Learn about the concept of reconciliation and its impact on our lives with the planners of our year-long series of events. Panelists: Margaret Jacobs (Director, Center for Great Plains Studies), Kevin Abourezk (Journalist, Managing Editor, Indianz.com)



Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change Workshop: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples, Paula Palmer and Jerilyn DeCoteau, virtual event, Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m. CT

In this 2-hour participatory program, participants will experience the history of the colonization of Turtle Island, the land that is now known as the United States. The story will be told through the words of Indigenous leaders, European/American leaders, and Western historians. Participants will engage with this history through experiential exercises and small group discussions and be invited to consider how we can build relationships with Indigenous peoples based on truth, respect, justice, and shared humanity.


The Iniquitous History of the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861: Colorado's Efforts Toward Reconciliation, virtual event, March 9, 5:30 p.m.

Rick Williams (Oglala Lakota/Cheyenne) Leader, People of the Sacred Land, is an expert in Federal Indian Policies, Treaties, and Great Plains Indian History.


Bring Her Home film: Virtual event, March 15, 6-7:30 p.m. CT

A film about missing and murdered Indigenous women, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and co-hosted by Vision Maker Media.



Contemporary Indigeneity: Art exhibition opening and talk, April 1, 4 p.m., in-person at the Great Plains Art Museum

For the fourth iteration of this exhibition, the Great Plains Art Museum sought Indigenous artists addressing issues and themes relevant to the contemporary Native American experience on the Great Plains. Visit our Museum web page for a full description of the exhibition and event.


Summit logo

Reckoning & Reconciliation on the Great Plains: Confronting Our Past, Reimagining Our Future: Virtual and in-person events, April 6-8.


7 p.m.: Walter Echo-Hawk, Healing Historical Harm Caused by Conquest and Colonialism in the Great Plains

In-person and virtual at the Lied Center for Performing Arts as part of of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.


Walter Echo-Hawk is President of the Pawnee Nation Business Council. As an author, attorney, and legal scholar he was the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair on Democratic Ideals at University of Hawai’i’s Law School (2018). He authored The Sea of Grass (2018); In The Light Of Justice (2013); In the Courts of the Conqueror (2010); and Battlefields and Burial Grounds (1994). A Pawnee Indian with a BA, Political Science, OSU and JD, UNM, he practices law in Oklahoma. In addition to his tribal government duties, he is Chair, Board of Directors, Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums (ATALM); and is a Knowledge Givers Advisory Board member, First American Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

April 7, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Featuring plenary speaker Hannibal Johnson, a Harvard Law School graduate, an author, attorney, and consultant. He has taught at The University of Tulsa College of Law, Oklahoma State University, and The University of Oklahoma. Johnson serves on numerous boards and commissions, including the Federal 400 Years of African-American History Commission and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission. His books, including Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma, chronicle the African American experience in Oklahoma and its indelible impact on American history.

April 8, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Featuring plenary speaker Tristan Ahtone, a member of the Kiowa Tribe and editor-in-chief at the Texas Observer. He previously served as Indigenous Affairs editor at High Country News. He has reported for Al Jazeera America, “PBS NewsHour,” “National Native News,” NPR and National Geographic.



Elizabeth Rubendall Artist in Residence: In-person events at the Great Plains Art Museum with artist Sarah Rowe April 5-16

The Great Plains Art Museum will host Omaha-based artist Sarah Rowe as the 2022 Elizabeth Rubendall Artist in Residence. Rowe is a multimedia artist of Lakota and Ponca descent whose work opens cross-cultural dialogues by utilizing methods of painting, casting, fiber arts, performance, and Native American ceremony in unconventional ways. See a full list of events.