Lecturer discusses experiences at Standing Rock, other Native American issues

Lyla June will share her thoughts on Standing Rock and other Native American issues during her lecture on the Cornell College campus on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Lyla June
Lyla June

Standing Rock, the Native American reservation in North Dakota and South Dakota, became the center of attention with the creation of the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.

Her lecture, “Standing Rock & the Growing Pan-Indigenous Movement for Life: Honoring What the Creator Has Made,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Hall-Perrine Room in the Thomas Commons. It’s part of the endowed Small-Thomas lecture series, which focuses on the intersection of faith and social justice.

June, of Navajo and Cheyenne lineages, will explore the events and issues at Standing Rock during her talk and will explain the ancestral paradigm that led protectors to take the positions they held. June says people will leave with a better understanding of what can be done to move with the rhythms of the earth, instead of forcing the earth to move to the rhythms of people’s anthropocentric greed.

“I am honored and excited to be this year’s Small-Thomas lecturer,” June said. “My ancestors carried a great understanding of how the earth works and this endangered knowledge is needed now more than ever. My grandmothers always taught me to be a generous person, not only with my wealth but with my wisdom and prayers as well. Everything I have is for the people.”

Lyla June Bio:

Lyla June is an anthropologist, educator, musician, public speaker, and internationally-recognized performance poet. She was raised in Taos, New Mexico. She is a fellow with the Original Caretakers Initiative at the Center for Earth Ethics. She is a co-founder of The Taos Peace and Reconciliation Council, which works to heal intergenerational trauma and ethnic division in northern New Mexico. She is a walker within the Nihigaal Bee Iiná Movement and is the lead organizer of the Black Hill Unity Concert. She is the also the founder of Regeneration Festival, an annual celebration of children that has occurred in 13 countries around the world. Her most recent book is a poetic rendition of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, titled Lifting Hearts Off the Ground: Declaring Indigenous Rights in Poetry. Lyla graduated with honors from Stanford University in 2012 with a degree in environmental anthropology. She is currently pursuing graduate studies in American Indian Education at the University of New Mexico. She works with Navajo peoples to create and sustain their own traditional education systems free of colonial fetters.

About the Small-Thomas Lecture Series:

The lecture series, which began in 2000, is funded by Richard Small, a past chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees and a 1950 graduate, and his wife, honorary alumna and trustee Norma Thomas Small. The lecture series honors Norma’s late mother, June, and her late father, Cecil, who was Cornell’s buildings and grounds superintendent (1956-73) and consultant (1979-91).

Previous speakers include Sean Farren, a key negotiator in efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland; Edwina Gately, a Catholic laywoman who founded a safe haven for prostitutes in Chicago; U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill.; the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church; feminist Islamic scholar Amina Wadud; Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers; and United Methodist pastor and award-winning interfaith dialogue, race relations, and Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice leader, The Rev. Dr. Mouzon Biggs; author and political theologian Ward Holder ’85.