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
  • 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 and provide flexibility during the pandemic. 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. Participants will also get a T-shirt in the mail. Some events may require an additional sign up. All events will comply with UNL's COVID-19 policies.

The first several events of this program are below. Additional events and details will be added as the year progresses. Ask us questions at cgps@unl.edu.


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.

Schedule of events


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.


Reckoning and Reconciliation in Education: In-person event

Special presentations involving reconciliation in education. Details and sign up coming soon.


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


Imagining a Better Future Worldbuilding Workshop: In-person or virtual event and year finale.