Dr. Sandra Muse Isaacs
Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing
Professor of Indigenous Literature Sandra Muse Isaacs is of Eastern Cherokee (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 with 12 siblings. She remains deeply connected to the region and is honoured to 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’ first book, Eastern Cherokee Stories: A Living Oral Tradition and Its Cultural Continuance was released in 2019 and won the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association, out of a field of 40+ books. Published through the University of Oklahoma Press in their “Cherokee Studies” line, 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 amongst a highly literate and technical Native American tribe in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Dr. Muse Isaacs’s research encompasses Indigenous Literature and critical theory, Indigenous oral storytelling, Orality theory, Oral Histories, Creative Writing, and Postcolonialism. She notes that most modern Indigenous literature is based on ancient oral stories foundational to more than 500 nations/tribes throughout Turtle Island (North America). Her most recent research examines the parallels between Indigenous oral traditions and their Earth-connected teachings. She is now working with Australian colleagues and Indigenous writers/storytellers through University of Melbourne’s Literary Education Lab in a wide-reaching project called Climate Literacies: transdisciplinary approaches to literature for justice-oriented futures. The three-year project will examine how literature, and in particular works by women and Indigenous writers/storytellers of Australia and Turtle Island may facilitate high school students’ understanding of climate change - an issue of major concern to young people globally.
Her courses, under the FAHSS Minor in Indigenous Studies, focus on Indigenous women writers, Earth Connections, Indigenous Film & Literature, Humor as Healing, an Intro to Indigenous Literature, Stories of the Anishnaabe, and others.
She previously taught Indigenous Literature at Saint Mary’s University in Mi’kmaq’i (homelands of the Mi’kmaq people), McMaster, and Laurier-Brant (both Haudenosaunee territory). She has also taught Native journalism courses at Western University (Anishinaabe, Leni-Lunaape, and Haudenosaunee lands).