Miranda Belarde-Lewis featured as part of #UWInnovates

Submitted by Kai Wise on
iSchool Assistant Professor Miranda Belarde-Lewis

ISchool assistant professor Miranda Belarde-Lewis, ’07, ’11, ’13, combines research, teaching and curating to help reclaim how Native art is presented — and bring Native voices to the forefront. This wonderful article was featured on the front page of the UW website.  The article acknowledges two other AIAN colleagues Clarita Left-Hand Begay, and Sandy Littletree. As a department, we are so constantly contributing to the growth of Native Studies as a field, and it's always encouraging to see Native scholarship growing across the campus. The iSchool in particular is becoming a place where many of our majors have been able to take an appropriate, relevant, and thought-provoking course with amazing faculty.

Here's a highlight from the article, and you can enjoy the full article here.

Her museum work has immersed her in a troubling truth: “Colonialism is at the root of museum practice. The showcasing, the spoils of war, conquests and exploration. That’s how museums got started.”

Even today, Belarde-Lewis says, Native art is often placed in natural-history museums, as artifacts rather than art on its own merits: “There we are, right along with the dinosaurs and all the other long, long-ago objects.”

Through her scholarship and independent curation work with Native artists, Belarde-Lewis is helping bring Native voices and vision to spaces traditionally dominated by colonialism.

That focus was a perfect fit for the iSchool’s Native North American Indigenous Knowledge research initiative; in 2020 Belarde-Lewis was named the inaugural Joseph and Jill McKinstry Endowed Faculty Fellow in Native North American Indigenous Knowledge. The three-year award was created by Jill McKinstry, ’69, ’73, ’87, who was the equity-focused and action-oriented director of Odegaard Undergraduate Library for 17 years, and her husband, Joe. The philanthropic support will help Belarde-Lewis apply for federal grants, involve students in her research and bring speakers to the UW community.

The UW’s collegial atmosphere for Native and Indigenous scholars was part of what drew her here as a graduate student — and why she returned in 2018 as a faculty member.