Virtual discussion on Indigenous studies will celebrate completion of Kansas Open Books project

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The University Press of Kansas will host a free, virtual event next week to commemorate the completion of Kansas Open Books, an initiative to digitize books that are no longer in print and make them freely available online.

The event, “Open Access Publishing and the Future of Native and Indigenous Studies,” will include a discussion on Kansas and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 29. The last day to register is Friday, March 25.

“It is exciting to reintroduce these works to Kansas and to a larger audience. Having a panel of distinguished NAIS scholars discuss how these books will benefit not only their work, but the public at large, is a perfect capstone to the project,” Kevin L. Smith, director of UPK, said in a news release.

Panelists will discuss various Indigenous works, current trends in NAIS, the importance of open-access Indigenous studies books to the public and more. The three panelists featured will be:

Sarah Deer (Citizen Muscogee (Creek) Nation), a university distinguished professor at the University of Kansas and the chief justice for the Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals. In addition, Deer is the author of “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America.” The 2015 book, in which she shares her 25 years of experience working with survivors, won various awards, including the Best First Book award from the Native American Indigenous Studies Association.

Farina King (Diné) is an associate professor of history and an affiliated faculty member of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University, as well as the founder and director of the NSU Center for Indigenous Community Engagement. King is the author of “The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century.” 

Kiara M. Vigil is an associate professor of American studies at Amherst College and is the author of the book “Indigenous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1880–1930,” which analyzes prominent Native American intellectuals. Vigil has also been elected as a council member for the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association for a three-year term. 

Tai S. Edwards, an associate professor of history and the director of the Kansas Studies Institute at Johnson County Community College, will moderate the discussion. Edwards is the author of the award-winning book “Osage Women and Empire: Gender and Power.” 

“This event will be a rare chance to hear from some of the top Indigenous scholars of Native and Western history in the country. For anyone interested in the state of the Native and Indigenous Studies field – particularly with respect to gender, education, and the Midwest – this will be a must-watch,” UPK Senior Editor David Congdon said.

Those interested in attending must register at this link by March 25. After doing so, they will receive the webinar information.

This Kansas Open Books project has been made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Check out the dozens of books that are part of the project at this link.

Founded in 1946, restructured in 1967 and once again in 1976, the UPK consists of the six state universities in Kansas: KU, Kansas State, Emporia State, Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State and Wichita State. It is responsible for publishing scholarly books and regional books that “contribute to the understanding of Kansas, the Great Plains, and the Midwest,” according to a news release.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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