Student Research Conference Keynote Events Center Indigenous Rights

October 25, 2019

closeup of a native Alaskan statue

Social justice is at the core of the School of World Studies’ mission. With the United Nations declaring 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, we’ve focused the keynote events of this year’s annual Student Research Conference on indigenous language preservation, environmental  and indigenous rights. On Thursday, November 14 in the VCU Student Commons, we will open the conference with a special screening of the film “On the Tip of the Tongue,” followed by a  keynote address by Lauren Fox, Director of the Pamunkey Indian Tribal Resource Center.

The screening of “On the Tip of the Tongue” will begin  at 4 p.m. in the Commons Theater with an introduction by School of World Studies professor Peter Kirkpatrickand Pamunkey Assistant Chief Brad Brown.This documentary examines the attempts of Alaska’s Eyak people to revive and preserve their language.

It is estimated that somewhere in the world, an indigenous language dies every two weeks. Such was the case for the Eyak language when its last native speaker passed away in 2008. Prior to her passing, she shared a prophetic dream of an outsider helping to preserve the Eyak language. In 2010, a young Frenchman brought her dream to fruition when he arrived in Alaska after having taught himself Eyak. 

“On the Tip of the Tongue” documents the efforts to revive Eyak and will also be shown as part of the upcoming Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival. Following our screening at VCU, Assistant Chief Brown and Dr.Kirkpatrick will hold a Q&A. 

official tribal seal of the Pamunkey

At 6pm  Lauren Fox, Director of the Pamunkey Indian Tribal Resource Center, will deliver a keynote address in the Commonwealth Ballroom. Fox is an environmental activist working with the federal government on conservation of Pamunkey land. She will discuss the history of the Pamunkey Tribe and their effort to attain federal recognition and tribal status. She will also discuss their efforts to restore and revive their reservation. 

Join us on Thursday, November 14 in the VCU Student Commons for these two keynote events centered on indigenous issues from 4 until 8 p.m.! 

Come back on Friday, November 15 for the panels that showcase students’ research in the Richmond Salons! We will also host a panel with area activists at 3 p.m..