Meet FAHSS's Indigenous Scholars

 
 
The Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (FAHSS) welcomes five new tenure-track faculty members hired through the President’s Indigenous Peoples Scholars Program, which responds to the historic under-representation of Indigenous peoples in leadership roles on campus. "The range of expertise of our new colleagues allows for a broad-based Indigenous enrichment of our curriculum," states Dr. Marcello Guarini, dean, faculty of arts, humanities and social sciences. Dr. Guarini points to new courses with Indigenous content and cutting-edge research opportunities as elements that will enhance FAHSS. It's exciting for FAHSS students and faculty, Guarini asserts, to work with such accomplished researchers and teachers.
 
The new FAHSS faculty are:
Ashley Glassburn Falzetti, PhD, Women’s & Gender Studies
Onawa LaBelle, PhD, Psychology
Rebecca Major, PhD candidate, Political Science
Andrea Sullivan-Clarke, PhD, Philosophy
Sandra Muse Isaacs, PhD, English, Language & Creative Writing
 
The new faculty will serve as leaders for students on campus. Dr. Glassburn Falzetti emphasizes the importance of mentoring on campus: “We are all excited to make it easier for Indigenous students to navigate campus and know how to find resources; know how to find us; know how to take classes that are going to speak to their experiences.”  While working with Indigenous students is key, Dr. Glasburn Falzetti states, "it is really important to work with students of colour, period." She and her colleagues look forward to being faculty members who serve as mentors.
 
Most of the new faculty members are first in their family to attend university and identify prior mentor relationships as key to their successes. Both high school and university mentors sparked their confidence, valued their abilities, and encouraged their desire to succeed. Even though most weren't convinced they would move into academia, they say they now have their “dream job.”
 
Prof. Major is excited to assume this leadership position with her four other new amazing colleagues, and asserts that she looks forward to seeing “what people need to make this campus more comfortable for Indigenous people and to help bridge the understanding between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people here.”
 

Meet FAHSS’s Indigenous Scholars

 

Professor Rebecca Major, PhD candidate, Political ScienceProf. Rebecca Major
Assistant Professor of Political Science

Rebecca Major is a PhD candidate in Indigenous Public Policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. Her dissertation investigates Indigenous Policy and change, rights, and identity. Prof. Major holds an MA in Native Studies (Indigenous Studies) in land claims, and a BA in History and Native Studies, both also from the University of Saskatchewan.

 
Prof. Major is a member of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan. Her areas of interest include Canadian Indigenous public policy; Indigenous governance, national and international; policy of identity and membership; Indigenous land and governance claims; policy learning; and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She has taught courses in Indigenous Politics and Canadian Public Administration and Policy.
 
Outside of academia, Prof. Major has worked in several capacities in Métis administration. She has previously been elected as Area Representative, Western Region 2A, Métis Nation-Saskatchewan; Manager of Intergovernmental Affairs; and a Policy Advisor in both Environment and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan.  She states he became involved politically because she felt it was her responsibility as an educated person to contribute back to her community. 
 
Moreover, she promotes university education because “human capital is not something all Indigenous communities have." Major states, "Indigenous communities don’t always have a lot of trained people among their own members, so it would be good for people to have access to university and feel comfortable on campus." Acquiring skills, Major suggests, is one way to contribute to the community.
 
Major also believes strongly in the role of land and how one relates to it.  “Because I was taught at a very young age that everything was connected to the land, everything that is in my world is land-based,” says Major. “When I talk to my son about this I realize that how I was raised is not how most urban dwellers are raised. As a teenager, I would spend the whole summer in the bush with my dad. At the time, I thought ‘this sucks I want to be in the city with friends and got to the mall’. But now I look back, so much of my life is based on the fact that I spent two months every year in the bush. My dad was very cognizant of how we relate to the land. How we have to take care of it.”
 
 One of Major's goals for the non-Indigenous population is "to help bring awareness that Indigenous people are partners in this community.”
 
Courses:
220 and 221 Canadian Public Administration and Policy
4th year Special Topics course:  Indigenous Nation Building
 
 

Sandra Muse Isaacs, PhD, English, Language & Creative WritingDr. Sandra Muse Isaacs
Assistant Professor of English Language, Literature & Creative Writing

Professor of Indigenous Literature, Sandra Muse Isaacs is of Eastern Cherokee descent (Ani-tsisqua, Bird Clan) and Gaelic heritage (Clan MacRae).
 
An alumnus of the University of Windsor (BA, English; MA, English and Creative Writing), Dr. Muse Isaacs grew up on the west side of Detroit. She remains deeply connected to the region and is honoured to once again live and work in the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe Peoples, of the Three Fires Confederacy.
 
Dr. Muse Isaacs holds a PhD in English and Cultural Studies from McMaster University, where she was the first recipient and a four-time awardee of the Harvey Longboat Graduate Scholarship for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students.
 
Muse Isaacs’s research encompasses Indigenous literature and critical theory, Indigenous oral storytelling, orality theory, oral histories and creative writing. Her work examines the parallels between Indigenous oral traditions and their Earth-connected teachings. She notes that much of Indigenous literature is based on ancient oral stories foundational to more than 500 nations/tribes throughout Turtle Island (North America). She also is interested in the interstices of Cherokee society and that of early Scottish settlers, along with the parallels between Indigenous cultures here and ancient Gaelic culture.
 
“With my work I want to make Dr. Alistair MacLeod and Dr. John Ditsky proud because they were my mentors, especially regarding creative writing,” says Muse Isaacs.  She lived in Windsor for 15 years while studying at UWindsor and raised her children here.
 
Dr. Muse Isaacs’s first book, Eastern Cherokee Stories: A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance, will be released in fall 2019 through the University of Oklahoma Press. The work documents and examines Eastern Cherokee Oral Tradition as both an ancient and contemporary literary form with emphasis on cultural survivance, nationhood, Indigenous resistance, and tribal sovereignty, along with its modern usage in land reclamation, cultural regeneration, and language revitalization.
 
In Eastern Cherokee Stories, Muse Isaacs draws on her experience as a journalist and associate producer with CBC Windsor to interview these storytellers and record the storytelling. She states, “Something is lost when you aren’t seeing and listening to a storyteller." She emphasizes how the experience of sitting alone and reading a book is extremely different than listening to stories, which is an experience that demands "you take it all in and embody the story.”
 
Courses:
Topics in Literature: Intro. to Indigenous Literature
Topics in US Literature: Indigenous Literature of the U.S.
Topics in Culture and Text: 19th Century Detective Fiction
Topics in Canadian Literature: Indigenous Literature of Canada
 
 
 

Andrea Sullivan-Clarke, PhD, PhilosophyDr. Andrea Sullivan-Clarke
Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Andrea Sullivan-Clarke holds a PhD and MA from the University of Washington, and a BA  from Oklahoma State University, all in Philosophy.
 
Dr. Sullivan-Clarke is a Native American philosopher whose research focuses on the philosophy of science, particularly the social dimension of knowledge creation. In her dissertation, Analogical Reasoning and Scientific Practice: The Problem of Ingrained Analogy, Dr. Sullivan-Clarke presents a potential problem that arises when scientific communities indiscriminately rely on analogies as part of their practice. Dead metaphors pose an epistemic threat to science. When the analogies underwriting such metaphors are taken for granted, it affects the interpretation as well as the relevancy of data. To mitigate the problem of an ingrained analogy, Sullivan-Clarke offers scientific communities a set of strategies, which promote a robust critique of a community's metaphors and decrease the likelihood of an analogy becoming ingrained.
 
An alumnus of American University’s Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS), Sullivan-Clarke previously interned at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the office of the Director of Tribal Affairs Group.
 
The first person to attend college, Sullivan-Clarke describes what piqued her interest in pursuing higher education. “In high school, I was part of the Spanish club and we performed at the University of Oklahoma,” explains Sullivan-Clarke. “I got to see what a college campus was like and I liked it. I have this goal to help other people who are in a similar situation as I was.”
 
One of her classes is Indigenous Thought of the Americas. According to Sullivan-Clarke, students taking the course will be encouraged to contemplate the core question, ‘Is it really philosophy?’ and then working from creation stories and Indigenous knowledge, they will determine how similar, and different, it is to the philosophy of ancient Greece or China.
 
“I want my students to really think about it. There have been instances of gatekeeping in the discipline and some may deny that it is philosophy. Admittedly, Indigenous thought is different, but there are still similarities,” she explains. “There’s still this type of critical thinking, this distinct type of thought that’s going on.”
 
“What resonated for me about joining the UWindsor faculty,” Sullivan-Clarke explains, “Is that I would get to be what I always wanted. A philosopher and Native American! I can research the topics I love and I don’t have to try to fit a job description. It is exciting to be at a university that is interested in Indigenous Philosophy”
 
A member of the wind clan of the Muskogee Nation of Oklahoma, Sullivan-Clarke is also interested in topics relevant to Indian Country, such as identity, sovereignty, and mixed-race contributions to knowledge production. She is the co-editor of the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Indigenous Philosophies.
 
Courses:
Contemporary Moral Issues
Reasoning Skills
Introduction to Philosophy
Indigenous Thought in the Americas (covers North, Central & South America)
 
 

Ashley Glassburn Falzetti, PhD, Women’s & Gender StudiesDr. Ashley Glassburn Falzetti
Assistant Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies

Dr. Glassburn Falzetti holds a PhD in Women’s & Gender Studies from Rutgers University, an MA in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and BA in Philosophy from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN.
 
She serves as a co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the National Women's Studies Association and actively participates in the Gender, Women, and Feminist PhD working group.  Her most recent article, “What Makes a Feminist Interdisciplinary Scholar? Preparing for the Unknown,” is currently available in a special issue of Feminist Studies on “Doctoral Degrees in W/G/F/S Studies: taking stock” (44.2, 2018.)
 
“I was a serious activist,” says Glassburn Falzetti. “As a student, I found the progressive professors – or they found me. They suggested organizations to get involved with, so I did.”  
 
At different times, she worked for the AmeriCorps, the Highlander Research & Education Center (Knoxville), the Citizens for Justice Equality and Fairness (Dandridge, TN) and the Southern Organizing Cooperative, which was a funding organization for progressive political organizations in the 1990s.
 
Dr. Glassburn Falzetti worked for the Oakridge Environmental Peace Alliance where she travelled around to colleges and did informational sessions on the history of nuclear proliferation and disarmament and how that relates to the formation of Oakridge, Tennessee.
Citizens for Justice Equality and Fairness hired her for two projects. The first was to develop an after-school program for teaching about histories of racism and structures of racism to high school students.
 
The second project was to create an oral history of women of colour in the community. Glassburn Falzetti held community discussion sessions to decide what kinds of values to use. Once they had a list of values, they held community discussion sessions to decide which women fit the values.
 
“So then I recorded oral histories and portraits of each woman,” she explains. “This exhibit traveled around the state for a while and we created a booklet. I think the exhibit is now part of the permanent collection of the Tennessee Historical Museum.”
 
Dr. Glassburn Falzetti has always been predominantly interested in anti-racism and anti-colonization movements. Through this oral history project, she learned about black feminism.
 
Her book manuscript Settling the Past: Epistemic Violence and the Making of Indigenous Subjectivities draws on Miami historical narratives and contemporary political projects to explore the dynamics of race, place, and historical evidence in constituting Indigenous subjectivities.  Her research appears in scholarly journals such as Feminist Studies (2018), Biography (2016), Settler Colonial Studies (2015).  Her research has been funded by the Newberry Library of Chicago, the American Philosophical Society, the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University, and the Culture of Research Excellence Fellowship at Eastern Michigan University. 
 
Dr. Glassburn Falzetti lectures globally on the epistemic violence of archival structures and decolonizing methodologies.  She was a featured speaker at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture’s workshop on “Digital Research in Early American.”  This upcoming year she will keynote the Re-Framing Indigenous Biography Conference at the Australian National University in Canberra and the Atlantic Provinces Library Association at Memorial University of Newfoundland. 
 
The Woodrow Wilson Foundation named her a 2017 Nancy Weiss Malkiel scholar for her dedication to working toward racial justice as junior faculty.  She is a member of the Miami Nation of Indiana and serves on the language committee designing Myaamia language programming and research support for the tribe.  Her language revitalization work emphasizes models for teaching Algonquian Grammar, which open up possibilities for developing multi-lingual Algonquian language programming and emphasizing anti-colonial epistemologies. 
 
Courses:
Women and Protest
Feminist Theories
4th year Special Topics course:  Indigenous Feminisms
Women and Friendship
 
 

Onawa LaBelle, PhD, PsychologyDr. Onawa LaBelle
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Assistant Professor Onawa LaBelle holds a PhD and MA from the University of Michigan and BA from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, all in Psychology. In addition, LaBelle has held internships and research assistantships at Harvard Medical School, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
 
In her scholarly work, Dr. LaBelle draws heavily upon positive psychology in her study of social relationships and recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorder. She is particularly interested in examining the social origins of addiction and the parallel between the use of social support programs as a pathway to recovery (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, SMART recovery). In future work, LaBelle hopes to explore recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorder among Indigenous populations, and to examine differences and commonalities between traditional social support programs and those tailored for Indigenous people (e.g., Red Road to Wellbriety). LaBelle currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Recovery Science.
 
At Michigan, where LaBelle received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, she served on the Diversity Committee to help increase the number of underrepresented students in the doctoral program and more generally, in academia. The committee coordinated and facilitated panel discussions, mentoring luncheons, and the annual psychology department’s Diversity Recruitment Weekend program. “We brought undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to Michigan and taught them how to be good PhD applicants to increase their chances of admission,” says Dr. LaBelle. “Although it was amazing to see so many bright and promising scholars present, I was always disappointed that there were only one or two Indigenous students at these weekends.”
 
LaBelle is engaged to a Windsorite and planned to move here prior to securing her position. “I love living in Windsor,” she says. “We are just close enough to visit Detroit for entertainment and sports, but I get to live in this wonderful community.”
 
Dr. LaBelle is a self-identified Indigenous person with paternal ancestry tracing back to one of the first Métis families in Quebec and maternal ancestry connected to the Mahican community from the Berkshire region of western Massachusetts. Dr. LaBelle’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Canada and she is quite pleased to be returning to the motherland. 
 
Courses:
Research Methods
Introduction to Psychology as a Social Science
Positive Psychology (Fall 2019)
 
FAHSS's mighty Indigenous Peoples Scholars