Taos Summer Writers' Conference
Crossings of Breath:
Indigenous & Black Relations in North America
The Conference Presenters Program

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Tiya Miles (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Keynote Title:
"Bridging the Breach: Toward an Ethos of Healing in Afro-Native Relations"

Assistant Professor in the Program in American Culture, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, and Native American Studies Program at the University of Michigan.  Publications include Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (Forthcoming, Berkeley: University of California Press, Spring 2005) and several forthcoming articles including “Africans and Native Americans,” co-authored with Barbara Krauthamer, Blackwell Companion to African-American History, ed., Alton Hornsby Jr., (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing), “His Kingdom for a Kiss: Indians and Intimacy in the Narrative of John Marrant,” Tense and Tender Ties: Race and Empire in North American History, ed., Ann Laura Stoler (Durham: Duke University Press), and “African-Americans in Southeastern Indian Societies," co-authored with Celia Naylor-Ojurongbe, Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 14 Southeast, ed., Raymond Fogelson (Smithsonian).


Evening performance

Radmilla Cody -- Dine'/African American

Miss Cody is of the Tla’a’schi’i’ (Red-Orche-on-Cheek) clan and is born for the African-Americans.  A Canyon Records recording artist, Indie Award Winner and two-time Native American Award Nominee, and the 46th Miss Navajo Nation from 1997-98.  Born and raised on the Navajo Nation, she spent her childhood herding sheep, carding and spinning wool, and searching with her grandmother for lost sheep and their lambs. A survivor of domestic violence, Cody uses her personal experiences to advocate strongly against the epidemic of violence.  As a biracial person she attempts to communicate positive messages about her dual identity as children who are biracial or multiracial still bear the brunt of prejudice.


Invited Speakers

Dr. Daniel Littlefield (University of Arkansas)
Presentation title: "The Politics of Researching Black Indians"

Since 1983, Dr. Littlefield has served as director of the American Native Press Archives, the world's largest archival repository of Native American newspapers and periodicals.  The ANPA serves as an international clearinghouse for information on American Indian and Alaska Native publications; maintains a newspaper and periodical collection of over 30,000 separate items published between 1826 and the present; collects American Indian and Alaska Native imprints; coordinates a major research project in its sixth year (which has produced several works, including A Bibliography of Native American Writers, 1772-1924); and publishes a journal, Native Press Research Journal. Dr.  Littlefield spoke before the Freedmen Descendants of the Five Civilized Tribes in June and gave expert testimony in a Creek Nation court hearing on a Creek Freedman case in late July of this year. His publications include Africans And Creeks: From The Colonial Period To The Civil War, Africans And Seminoles: From Removal To Emancipation, and The Cherokee Freedmen: From Emancipation To American Citizenship.

Dr. James Brooks (President, School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM)
Presentation title: "From Ignacio to the National: Thinking About the Meaning of Native/African American Research"

A noted ethnohistorian, his book Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2002, won eight prestigious scholarly awards. His other books include Confounding the Color Line: the Indian-Black Experience in North America (University of Nebraska Press, 2002) and Women and Gender in the North American West (University of New Mexico Press, 2004). He joined SAR as a member of the research faculty and director of publications in 2002.

Dr. Cortez Williams (Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico)
Presentation title: "The Essence of Black and Native American Relations Before the 18th Century"

Dr. Williams, professor emeritus of African American studies at the University of New Mexico, was curator for a special exhibit in the Center for Southwest Research in Zimmerman Library. The exhibit, “Backs in the Southwest” provided stories about Blacks who played instrumental roles from the time of the early explorers to contemporary society.  From Sebastian Rodriguez, drummer for De Vargas, to Stagecoach Mary, the woman with the strongest right arm in the west, the exhibits provides interesting tales of adventure.  Dr. Williams has also been honored “for his historic work and research on the history of blacks in the Western United States” by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Charles Dibrell Chapter of Albuquerque.  Williams is vice-president of Historical Research Patrons, Inc., a New Mexico non-profit foundation that researches and promotes the history of African Americans in the western territories.

Dr. Robert Collins -- Choctaw/African American
(University of California, Berkeley)
Presentation title: "When Playing Indian Is a Misplaced Assumption: Evidence From Black Choctaw Life Histories"
Dr. Collins is a lecturer in Native American Studies, UC-Berkeley. His dissertation engaged in a comparative study of the lived experiences of Choctaws/African-Americans in Southeastern Oklahoma and Texas.  He has an essay, "Katimih o Sa Chata Kiyou? (Why Am I not Choctaw?): Race in the Lived Experiences of Two Black Choctaw Mixed Bloods," forthcoming in Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds ed. Sharon P. Holland and Tiya Miles.  Also forthcoming is "When Playing Indian is a Misplaced Assumption: Evidence From Black Choctaw Lived Experiences," in Race, Roots, and Relations: Native and African Americans ed. Terry Strauss (Albatross Press, 2005)


Dr. Celia E. Naylor (Dartmouth College)
Presentation title: "Black and Native: (Re)presenting Race, Culture and Nation"

Her current work explores the connections between African-Americans and Native Americans in the United States. She helped coordinate the conference "'Eating Out of the Same Pot': Relating Black and Native (Hi)stories," held at Dartmouth College in April 2000. Her publications include "'Born and raised among these people, I don't want to know any other': Slaves' Acculturation in Nineteenth-Century Indian Territory," in Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America, ed., James F. Brooks (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).  She has forthcoming essays on Radmilla Cody, a chapter co-authored with Tiya Miles in Handbook of North American Indians, volume 14--Southeast, ed., Raymond Fogelson (Smithsonian). Her book manuscript is"More at Home with the Indians": African-American Slaves and Freedpeople in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, 1838-1907.

  Dr. Susan Miller (Arizona State University)
Presentation title: "Sources and Discourses of Tribal Sovereignty and 'Black Indians' Entitlement: The Seminole Case"

Tiger Clan and Tom Palmer Band of the Seminole Nation (Assistant Professor in the American Indian Studies Program at Arizona State University)--Selected publications include Coacoochee’s Bones: A Seminole Saga (University Press of Kansas, 2003); “Seminoles and Africans under Seminole Law: Sources and Discourses of Tribal Sovereignty and ‘Black Indian’ Entitlement,”  Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies 20:1 (Spring 2005), pp. 23-47; "Licensed Trafficking and Ethnogenetic Engineering," American Indian Quarterly 20:1 (Winter 1996), pp. 49-55; reprinted in Natives and Academics, edited by Devon A. Mihesuah, pp. 100-110 (University of Nebraska Press, 1998); and other works.


Roundtable on Lived Experiences:
Being Native and Black

Monica Joiner -- Dine'/African-American
(University of New Mexico)
Ms. Joiner received an M.A. in Spanish from the University of Louisville where she also studied Nuyorican/Puerto Rican Literature.  Currently, she is a 1st year Ph.D. Student in Spanish & Portuguese.
Jacquelyn Walker -- Cochiti/African-American
(University of New Mexico)
Ms. Walker is a senior at UNM, majoring in family studies.  Her career goals include attending graduate school and becoming a counselor.  She is currently Miss Indian UNM.
Radmilla Cody Robert Collins