Religion as Peoplehood: Native Americans, the Environment, and the Sacred Lecture by Professor Michael D. McNally

Religion as Peoplehood Poster - Event Details over image of Manoomin (Wild Rice)

For the second in a series of events supported by the Our Shared Future Project, the Religious Studies Program brings Guggenheim Award-Winning Religion Scholar Professor Michael D. McNally to campus! He will present the lecture “Religion as Peoplehood: Native Americans, the Environment, and the Sacred” at 5:30PM on Monday, September 19, 2022 in the DeLuca Forum of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Please join us for a reception prior to the lecture at 5PM. Professor McNally is the John M. & Elizabeth W. Musser Professor of Religious Studies at Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota). He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017-2018, where he worked on his recently published book Defend the Sacred: Native American Religious Freedom beyond the First Amendment (Princeton University Press, 2020). More recently, Professor McNally’s research has been supported by a fellowship from the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs.

Religious Studies and Folklore Studies will partner again to create a series of public and course-integrated events based in Professor Michael McNally’s recognized scholarship on Ojibwe culture, land sovereignty and health. He will give a public address with discussion, which explores Native American religions through the lens of their engagement with contested sacred lands and other current issues, rethinking the definitional conundrum of Native “religion” with the international possibilities of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Entitled, “Religion as Peoplehood, Native Americans, the Environment, and the Sacred” the talk will explore how Native relationships to sacred lands/waters are given to either being overly spiritualized as “religion” or overly materialized as “environmental” in nature. The talk, and his forthcoming book, take its language cues from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), which emerged from decades of international Indigenous conversations and centers on the collective rights of Indigenous peoplehood (sovereignty in US law) and the prerogative of Indigenous Peoples to determine for themselves how to “maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationships with traditional lands and waters and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.” He will focus on examples from Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) contexts.

He will meet with RS Affiliate Faculty, Sept. 19, Noon to 1pm Orchard View Room, WID, over lunch to discuss the study of Native American religions and traditions in the contexts of interdisciplinary scholarship, community-based classroom activity and the public humanities.