Skip directly to content



Kathryn W. Shanley (Nakona), a Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Montana and Special Assistant to the Provost for Native American and Indigenous Education, served as Co-Director of the Institute. 

Phyllis Bo-yuen Ngai, with an Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Montana, served as Co-Director of the Institute. 

In June and July of 2015, we hosted an NEH Summer Institute entitled “Indigenous Literatures in Global Conversation” at the University of Montana, Missoula campus.  Twenty-five scholars from all over the United States – high school teachers mostly, but some librarians and teachers of other grades – joined us for our Institute.  This website reflects both our shared time together and the fruits of our labors. Some of the participants agreed to share their final lesson plans.  For those of you who want to use ideas contained in them, please feel free.  The summer scholars graciously offer them in hopes that the important subject of Indigenous literatures becomes commonly included in a wide range of curricula.

The institute provided global perspectives on the literary and cultural dimensions of Indigenous peoples from those peoples’ perspectives.  We also engaged in cross-cultural comparisons between and among Indigenous peoples, with a further emphasis on civil discourse between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  Through exploring situated Indigenous knowledge, institute summer scholars studied the Salish and Pend d’Oreilles people of The Flathead Reservation in Montana through their expressive cultures (literatures, oral traditions, and film). We honor and thank the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) for allowing our presence in their homeland; indeed, the place where the University of Montana currently sits is a traditional Salish campsite.  The institute then broadened its intellectual inquiry to include the selected literatures of Alaska Natives, Kiowas of Oklahoma, and Samis of northern Norway.  We studied the historical, cultural, and social contexts for the respective Indigenous literatures through a framework provided by Montana’s constitutionally mandated Indian Education for All initiative.  Our overarching question was "what does it mean to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century?"  We hope you find our website useful and edifying.    Pinamiya , "Thank you."