Indigenous DC: A Conversation with Elizabeth Rule


Today’s book is Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s First Capital (Georgetown UP, 2023), by Dr. Elizabeth Rule, which is the first and fullest account of the suppressed history and continuing presence of Native Americans in Washington, DC. Washington, DC, is Indian land, but Indigenous peoples are often left out of the national narrative of the United States and erased in the capital city. To redress this myth of invisibility, Indigenous DC shines a light upon the oft-overlooked contributions of tribal leaders and politicians, artists and activists to the rich history of the District of Columbia, and their imprint—at times memorialized in physical representations, and at other times living on only through oral history—upon this place. Inspired by Dr. Elizabeth Rule’s award-winning public history mobile app and decolonial mapping project Guide to Indigenous DC, this book brings together the original inhabitants who call the District their traditional territory, the diverse Indigenous diaspora who has made community here, and the land itself in a narrative arc that makes clear that all land is Native land. The acknowledgment that DC is an Indigenous space inserts the Indigenous perspective into the national narrative and opens the door for future possibilities of Indigenous empowerment and sovereignty. This important book is a valuable and informational resource on both Washington, DC, regional history and Native American history.

Our guest is: Dr. Elizabeth Rule, who is Assistant Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. She is an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Her research on Indigenous issues has been featured in the Washington Post, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, The Atlantic, Newsy, and NPR. She has published scholarly articles in the American Quarterly and in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal; and is the author of Indigenous DC: Native Peoples and the Nation’s Capital (Georgetown University Press). Beyond the classroom, Dr. Rule continues her work as an educator by presenting her research and delivering invited talks on Native American issues. Dr. Rule has held posts as Director of the Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy and Faculty in Residence at George Washington University, Director of the Native American Political Leadership Program and the INSPIRE PreCollege Program, MIT Indigenous Communities Fellow, Postdoctoral Fellow at American University, and Ford Foundation Fellow. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in American Studies from Brown University, and her B.A. from Yale University.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the producer and show-host of the Academic Life podcasts. She holds a Ph.D. in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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