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Air, Water Land: Native/Indigenous, Black, and Afro-Descendent Relationalities and Activism

Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 9:00am to 5:30pm

Air, Water Land: Native/Indigenous, Black, and Afro-Descendent Relationalities and Activism 

Climate change, environmental racism, settler colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, north/south divides, and unequal access to basic environmental resources by communities of color have inspired ongoing environmental justice activism in the Americas. This Fall 2021 symposium will center Indigenous and Black voices, leverage the campus residencies of Maya activist and teacher Irma Alicia Velasquez Nimatuj (in residence through the Global Justice Initiative and the Department of Anthropology) and Muskogee/Creek artist and activist Amber Starks (in residence through the UO Common Reading program) and focus on environmental justice and sustainable food systems. Designed to foster critical conversations from Indigenous and Black/Afro-descendant communities across the Americas, this event is organized around themes of air, land, and water, with a committed focus to issues impacting local communities. 

This symposium will feature three remote panels that explore these connections through air, land, and water, a keynote conversation, and a final discussion and demonstration of sustainable food systems. The event is organized by the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS), Native American and Indigenous Studies, Anthropology, Black Studies, the Global Justice Initiative, and the Common Reading program of the University of Oregon.  

A full program can be found here

These events are generously supported by the Office of the President, the Center for Environmental Futures, the Just Futures Institute, the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Chair in English, Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, Black Studies, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS), Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Many Nations Longhouse, the Julie and Rocky Dixon Chair of U.S. Western History, the Department of Environmental Studies, and the Department of English.

Remote events will be held over Zoom. Subscribe to CLLAS emails to receive event & Zoom details by emailing or at

In-person events are subject to UO COVID guidelines and may change; they are restricted to UO community and guests. Please register for in-person events by emailing

Updates to in-person events as well as additional information on symposium participants can be found at

Symposium panels will be livestreamed at

The Centerpiece Conversation between Irma Alicia and Amber will be livestreamed at

The University of Oregon is located on Kalapuya ilihi, the traditional indigenous homeland of the Kalapuya people. Following treaties between 1851 and 1855, Kalapuya people were dispossessed of their indigenous homeland by the United States government and forcibly removed to the Coast Reservation in Western Oregon. Today, Kalapuya descendants are primarily citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and they continue to make important contributions to their communities, to the UO, to Oregon, and to the world.