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About the Shifting Borders Project

The Hall Center for the Humanities at The University of Kansas (KU), in partnership with Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU), was pleased to conduct "The Shifting Borders of Race and Identity: A Research and Teaching Project on the Native American and African American Experience," a two-year project supported by the Ford Foundation.

"Shifting Borders" brought scholars from doctoral universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, and historically black colleges and universities to the borderlands between Native American and African American studies, where they collaboratively developed novel approaches to research and teaching that will contribute significantly to our understanding of race, ethnicity, culture, and identity. This ambitious project built on a foundation of thriving programs at KU in Indigenous Nations, African and African American, and American studies and at HINU in American Indian studies.

The ultimate goal of this project was to bring about a paradigm change in how disciplinary approaches are employed when researching and teaching about identity and culture. The project challenged scholars to break away from existing binary concepts of "race" and find fresh ways to conceptualize identity.

Grant activities included a series of lectures, exhibits, institutes, seminars, workshops, and a conference that examined the intersections between the experiences of Native Americans and African Americans. Scholars were invited to participate in oral history research and curriculum development projects, as well as to contribute to edited journals dedicated to First Nations and African American Studies.

For oral histories collected under this project see Of Two Spirits: American Indian and African American Oral Histories, edited by Mike Tosee and Carmaletta M. Williams, which features forty newly recorded oral histories. For essays on various aspects of Afro-Native history, culture and society, see The First and the Forced: Essays on the Native American and African American Experience, edited by James N. Leiker, Kim Warren, and Barbara Watkins.



Haskell Institute students, circa 1921
Haskell Institute students, circa 1921