Heller Center hosts Annual Indigenous Fellowship with speaker Philip Deloria 

Philip Deloria, Ph.D., was invited to the Heller Center on October 19 as the first Indigenous fellow at UCCS to host a talk about Indigenous storytelling with the same name as his newest work, “Notes from the Charging Elk Sketchbook, 1940: A Discourse on Art and Epistemology.” 

Deloria is a member of the Dakota tribe and a history professor at Harvard University. He has dedicated his education and research to Indigenous studies of culture, history and modernity, more specifically how Indian American and colonizer identities are formulated in relation to one another.  

Deloria’s fellowship at the Heller Center marks the start of a new and significant installation to UCCS’ indigenous recognition and studies. 

In 2022, the Heller Center announced the establishment of the Indigenous Fellowship in collaboration with UCCS to highlight indigenous studies and honor scholars including historians that work to call attention to the erasure and appropriation of indigenous people and history in American western education.   

Deloria is an esteemed author of Indian American histories and philosophies. He is known for his 1998 book “Playing Indian” which discusses the use, exploitation and appropriation of Native American identities and customs as tools to shape and reform colonial identities.  

Deloria’s current research centers around indigenous art correlated with concepts of epistemology and modernity. His talk on October 19th was a storytelling exercise on the first six chapters of his book.  

Deloria notes that the story he presented is an important commentary on Indian American and colonial cultures.   

“Today, we might seek to survey the indigenous aesthetic present that we have through the lens of this Charging Elk and Benjamin dialogue,” Deloria said, referring to the people of interest in his story that represent the colonial/indigenous relationship. 

Women’s and Ethnic Studies Professor Ilaheva Tua’one, vice Chancellor of DEI Rame Hanna and lecturer/internship supervisor and curator Rhonda Goodman are among the UCCS faculty members who organized the Indigenous Fellowship.  

Deloria’s residency at UCCS spans from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25 and within his time here he praised the students and staff for their work at the university.  

“One of the great things we are able to do as faculty members is to actually interact with the students … I’m really grateful to be here in this particular place,” Deloria said.  

Prior to his talk, Deloria was invited to additionally speak in a few classes at the university that focus on Native American studies to expose students to current voices in indigenous scholarly works.   

Deloria’s visit and the creation of the Indigenous Fellowship is a big step in making the campus more inclusive. Deloria is the first fellow of many to host the Indigenous Fellowship. 

Philip Deloria is known for his scholarly work and critical analyses on Indigenous communities in America. Deloria has taught at The University of Colorado and is currently teaching at Harvard University. Photo by Megan Moen.