An Argument for Native Studies: Toward A Critical Animal and Anti-Colonial Pedagogy
By, Trevor Reddick, Senior in English & Philosophy at Binghamton University
This paper will examine Native Studies as a paradigm of thought which has enduring importance for Critical Animal Studies and beyond. While the history of speciesism is storied and systemic, the phenomena of European colonialism and Native genocide are intimately intertwined with that history, both systems of domination are structured by a singular dominant ontology and paradigm of thinking, the very frame of Western thought itself. This paper will attempt to make a case for the inclusion of Native Studies in universities, and specifically its inclusion at Binghamton University proper. The ongoing, everyday genocide of nearly two million Native Americans is rendered invisible by repetition of settler knowledge, including spatial knowledge. In light of this, it is incumbent upon universities as places for critical pedagogy and sites of influence to address their complicity in systems of oppression. By arguing for Native Studies, and specifically Native spatial studies, this paper hopes to reveal the suppressed environmentally conscious ways of living and knowledge production of those native communities who are tied with the land Binghamton University is built upon. Those people are the Haudenosaunee, popularly known by their colonial name Iroquois. Inclusion of their cultural knowledge and worldviews into a students’ course of study would fundamentally question the status quo arrangement of the university and the colonial system’s paradigms of thought while simultaneously reinvigorating the knowledge systems of those who lived sustainably with Binghamton’s land for thousands of years before the colonial enterprise, and who continue to do so today. This program would hope to raise the popular conscious of Binghamton students, of native and non-native identity whilst invigorating environmental and animal oriented fields of study. This paper will conclude with an examination of some possible pathways from indigenous knowledge to broader student-activism and advocacy to fight the Western mindset which perpetuates speciesism and colonialism simultaneously.
Trevor Reddick is a Senior at Binghamton University, studying English and Philosophy. He was a successful debater for Binghamton University’s Speech and Debate Team, and has been coaching their teams this year to unprecedented success. He is going to be pursing graduate level studies, either in Mass Communications or Public Policy, where he will be coaching debate as well. He is interested in music theory, the intersections of Native and Black studies, and literary analysis of fiction, especially New Americanist studies.