American Indian Studies

2016-17 Native American Speakers Series

The series features nationally recognized American Indian scholars and artists who will delve into diverse topics and issues including Lumbee history, Native cuisine, health and wellness and Southeastern Native art.

Admission to the series is free, and it is open to the public.

Dr. Ryan Emanuel

Dr. Ryan Emanuel

January 26, 2017
7:00 p.m.
Museum of the Southeast American Indian

Ryan Eugene Emanuel is Associate Professor and University Faculty Scholar in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at NC State University.  He is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe with family in the Sandy Plains and Saddletree communities.  Ryan leads an active research team at NC State that uses fieldwork, remote sensing, and computer models to understand how water and natural ecosystems interact with one another and with society. His work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, and other organizations. Ryan holds a PhD and MS in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia, and he holds a BS in Geology from Duke University. Ryan has served on the NC Commission of Indian Affairs’ Environmental Justice Committee, North Carolina’s State Advisory Council on Indian Education, and Wake County’s Indian Education Parent Committee. He co-advises the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapter at NC State, and he received a national community service award from AISES for his work with American Indian students.  Ryan lives in Raleigh with his family.

Dr. Emanuel's presentation, Water is Life: An Indigenous Response to Water Challenges in the Lumbee World and Beyond, focuses on both sacred and the scientific aspects of water for Lumbee people and for other indigenous peoples of the region. To indigenous peoples, water is more than a resource to be consumed; it is also a sacred part of culture, imbued with symbolism and significance. Indigenous peoples observe the sanctity of water in different ways and often hold longstanding cultural attachments to specific rivers, springs, or other waters.  With the recent national spotlight focused on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, ideas about the sanctity of water are entering mainstream thought and dialogue.  At the same time, devastating floods in the wake of Hurricane Matthew reminds us of the dual nature of water: life giving and sustaining on one hand, and life destroying on the other. After discussing the historical and cultural significance of water, Dr. Emanuel will outline modern-day threats to the quality and quantity of water resources in and around the Lumbee River basin.  These threats, which range from industrial water pollution and population growth to climate change, are complicated by social and political issues, here at home and on the national stage.  How the Lumbee and other tribes respond to these threats will determine whether they are able to maintain cultural ties to water for future generations. The presentation concludes with thoughts on what a culturally motivated response might look like for the Lumbee and for other tribes.

This event is sponsored by PNC Bank, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.. Other sponsors include the Department of American Indian Studies, Museum of the Southeast American Indian, the Southeast American Indian Studies Program and the Office of Academic Affairs. For more information, email, or call 910.521.6266.


Past Speakers