Land Acknowledgement Committee 

Since 2019, students from the Native American Student Alliance, staff and faculty from Duke, UNC, NC State and members of local Native Nations have been participating in a Land Acknowledgement Committee. The purpose of this committee is to center Native student’s intentions in creating land acknowledgements and to consult with local Native tribes about the practice of using them in a university setting. The committee is still meeting, but if you would like to get in touch, please reach out to NASA’s President, Scarlett Guy at You can also read and sign NASA’s petition calling for better support of Native students at Duke.


Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice Series

Dr. Carrie Bourassa | Protecting Our Home Fires Strategy as a Driver for Self-Determination

COVID-19 has laid bare to the world what most Indigenous Peoples have already known since colonial influence. Racism, oppression, historical legacies and government polices continue to perpetuate the ongoing state of Indigenous Peoples‘ health inequities in many Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples carry an inordinate burden of health issues and suffer the worst health of any group in Canada. Beyond that, Indigenous Peoples experience the poorest living conditions, inequitable access to education, food, employment and healthcare/health services in a country that reliably ranks in the top ten on the United Nations human development index. Inequitable access leads to the worst health outcomes but most importantly racism has been identified as the major factor in creating and reinforcing these disparities. This racism is rooted in colonial history and the processes that have – and continue to – disconnect Indigenous communities from their lands, languages, and cultures. This pattern is similar in other colonized countries including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, India and many other countries.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa’s presentation focused on the concept of cultural safety, how it can address the impacts of colonization, intergenerational trauma and the burden of health issues that Indigenous Peoples carry. Moreover, Dr. Bourassa provided a concrete example of cultural safety that has been mobilized at the direction of the communities we serve – the Protecting Our Home Fires strategy. This model is rooted in self-determination, strengths based, community driven priorities and incorporates the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – this despite the fact systemic racism is invariably the leading cause of ill-health for Indigenous Peoples globally.

Dr. Andrew Curley | What Is A RESOURCE CURSE?

Andrew Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He studies coal and development in the Navajo Nation. His latest publications highlight the consequence of colonial water laws on indigenous nations and the political economy of green transition within reservation economies. His current work is on extraction, energy, and notions of resource curse among tribal governments.

Dr. Ryan Emanuel | Indigenous Rights, Environmental Justice, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Federal agencies in the United States use environmental justice analyses to help identify and address disproportionate, adverse impacts of environmental permitting and decision-making on vulnerable communities. Among those most affected by such actions are indigenous peoples, whose living ties to specific places can extend from time immemorial to the present. In spite of policies designed to promote justice and engagement, indigenous communities and their place-based knowledge systems are often omitted from environmental reviews and excluded from environmental decision-making. Here in North Carolina, which has the largest indigenous population east of the Mississippi River, multiple American Indian tribes have histories and cultures that are inseparable from specific blackwater streams, swamp forests, and coastal plain landscapes. However, these tribal communities lack cultural and environmental protections afforded to federally-recognized American Indian tribes. In recent years, efforts to permit and construct fossil fuel infrastructure such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have exposed the vulnerability of these tribes to environmental and cultural degradation – both directly via construction and operation of major infrastructure, and indirectly via climate and land use change. Prof.

Ryan Emanuel of North Carolina State University examined this situation from the perspective of an indigenous (Lumbee) scholar, bridging academic, indigenous, and regulatory spaces to amplify American Indian perspectives in ways that enriched public discourse on social justice, human rights, and the environment at the event. Ryan Emanuel is an Associate Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University. He leads the Ecohydrology and Watershed Science laboratory at NC State, which focuses on hydrological and ecological processes in natural and human-altered environments. Together with students and colleagues, he has published articles and scholarly essays in disciplines ranging from hydrology, climate, and ecology to environmental history and public policy. An enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe, Emanuel works to broaden participation of American Indians and other underrepresented groups in the sciences, receiving a national award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society for these activities. Emanuel also partners with tribal governments and indigenous organizations to address issues related to environmental quality, climate change, and public policies affecting indigenous peoples, receiving NC State’s sustainability award for these efforts. Emanuel holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Geology from Duke.