Native Ecologies


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Gregory Smithers, British Academy Global Professor, 2020-24

Professor Smithers’ project, ‘Native Ecologies: A Deep History of Climate Change’ will explore how threats to our well-being posed by climate change can be addressed by drawing upon indigenous knowledges rooted in the deep past. The project will compare two ecologically important regions transformed by colonialism: the homelands of the Cherokee in the Appalachians of the United States, and those of the Ngarigo and Walgal peoples of the Great Dividing Range in Australia. Using settler and indigenous sources, it will map a ‘genealogy’ of indigenous ecologies in order to construct the first deep history of a set of indigenous responses to fluctuations in climate. Greg says: ‘I was thrilled to win a Global Professorship from the British Academy and am excited about joining an impressive team of interdisciplinary scholars at the University of Hull. The Treatied Spaces research cluster provides a unique opportunity to elevate the voices, traditions, and action of Indigenous people from the past. By better understanding the rich history of Indigenous communities in North America and Australia we can gain critical insights that will help us meet the environmental, cultural, technological, and political challenges of the twenty-first century’. Follow the research for Native Ecologies unfold on Instagram and find all Professor Smithers’ research at his website.

A sampling of work related to Native Ecologies includes:

“Native Ecologies: Environmental Lessons from Indigenous Histories,” The History Teacher 52, no. 2 (February 2019): 265-90

“Renewing Sacred Fires: The Cherokee People and the Shifting Frontiers of Settler Colonialism,” Journal of the West 56, no. 4 (Fall 2017): 36-47

“Beyond the “Ecological Indian”: Environmental Politics and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Modern North America,” Environmental History 20, no. 1 (January 2015): 83-111