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Posted May 7, 2015

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New Futures Teacher Receives National Recognition

Mary Rafferty has been selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities summer scholar.

Mary Rafferty, a teacher at New Futures High School, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 25 seminars and institutes supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Endowment is a federal agency that, each summer, supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions so that teachers can study with experts in humanities disciplines.

Mary Rafferty will participate in a summer institute titled "Indigenous Literary Perspectives in Global Conversation.”  The four-week program will be held at The University of Montana-Missoula and directed by Kathryn Shanley and Phyllis Ngai.

The 25 teachers selected to participate in the program each receive a stipend of $3,300 to cover their travel, study, and living expenses.

This summer institute seeks to provide teachers with increased knowledge of Indigenous peoples from those peoples’ perspectives and engage in cross-cultural comparisons between and among Indigenous peoples, with a further emphasis on civil discourse between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

This institute, necessarily broad in vision, finds its focus through exploring situated Indigenous knowledge, first, by studying Alaskan Native culture, particularly through their oral traditions. The guest Alaska Native scholar will be Jeane Breinig (Haida), a professor from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

The institute then will shift its focus to Sami people from northern Scandinavia, presented by Sami educator and literary critic, Harald Gaski from University of Tromso. A local exploration of the Salish people of Montana begins with a look at their expressive cultures (literatures, oral traditions, and film). This part will be led by John Purdy, a literary scholar who specializes in the writing of D’Arcy McNickle, an intellectual in the mid-nineteenth century who was a member of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes.

Last, the institute’s focus broadens from Montana and the study of place-based Indigenous peoples to a discussion of migrations and cultural transformations with a look at Kiowas of Oklahoma.  Michael Wilson (Choctaw), author of Writing Home, will lead this part.  Participants will study 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. The overarching question will be: what does it mean to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century?

The approximately 544 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach almost 68,000 American students the following year.  

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