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VPR Distinguished Lecture to highlight climate change impact on Indigenous people and religion

Closeup of Rosalyn LaPier
Rosalyn LaPier

The Office of Research will host the spring Vice President for Research Distinguished Lecture series with a talk by Rosalyn LaPier, associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Montana and a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

The talk titled “Land as Sacred Text: How Climate Change Will Impact Indigenous Spirituality,” will take place at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 18, in the Biotechnology/Life Sciences Building, room 401 on the WSU Pullman campus. The lecture will also be livestreamed via Zoom. A reception will take place prior to the lecture at 2:30 p.m.  

RSVP on the Office of Research website by Monday, April 11. 

For most Indigenous peoples changes in the natural world impact their ability to practice their religious beliefs. This is because Indigenous peoples rely on the land and landscape, its seasonal cycles of weather, plants, and animals as part of their liturgical or religious calendar. Over the past 150 years, setter-colonial societies such as the United States suppressed and marginalized Indigenous religious practices. LaPier’s talk will focus on how climate change creates another challenge for Indigenous peoples and their ability to practice their religion. 

LaPier, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Metis, is an award-winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist, and environmental activist. In addition to traditional training for ethnobotany, she also learned ethnobotany and traditional ecological knowledge by apprenticing with her maternal grandmother Annie Mad Plume Wall and her aunt Theresa Still Smoking for more than 20 years. 

She received a Bachelor’s in Arts degree in physics and a doctorate degree in environmental history. She works within Indigenous communities to revitalize Indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge to address environmental justice and the climate crisis. She has written two award-winning books, two Blackfeet language lexicons, and dozens of articles and commentaries that have appeared in The Conversation, High Country News, The Montana Naturalist, and the Washington Post. She is currently working on her third book. 

Prior to joining the University of Montana, LaPier worked at Piegan Institute, a private nonprofit on the Blackfeet reservation working to revitalize the Blackfeet language. She raised more than $4,000,000 for their programs. She also previously taught at NAES College, a private Native-controlled college.

The Vice President for Research Distinguished Lecture Series invites world-renowned experts to WSU to share ideas and spark conversations about research that addresses society’s biggest challenges. Invited lecturers are leaders in their fields. This Vice President for Research Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by the Office of Research. RSVP is encouraged. 

For questions, contact Geeta Dutta by email at geeta.dutta@wsu.edu or by phone at 509‑335‑5980. 

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