Tag Archives: Academia

Jacqueline Wilson | Classical Native

Jacqueline Wilson Highlights

Some highlights from my conversation with Jacqueline Wilson:

“The thing classical music and being Native have in common is reassuring people we are not obsolete.”

“Even if what you do is unorthodox, or unexpected or outside of the box, what you do and who you are is important and you should share it with other people.”

Classical Music in Indian Country

In Indian Country, we often discuss being “traditional,” but in today’s episode, we get to hear someone who is “classical” while also being indigenous. That person is Jacqueline Wilson, a “classical Native”

Jacqueline Wilson is Yakama.

Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson, Yakama

She is an Assistant Professor at Southeast Missouri State University and is a professional bassoonist. She also is the creator of the website Molto Native Music, which promotes Native musicians in classical music.

I really enjoy finding people that I can have a conversation where I learn not only about their own experience, but to learn about things I have very little exposure to, and this is one of those shows.

Jacqueline started playing the bassoon after a high school teacher suggested that the instrument may be a way for her to earn a scholarship to attend college. She started learning the instrument, and before long she enrolled at Eastern Washington University. But her first semester, she took an F in her orchestra class. Her professor essentially told her she didn’t belong.

That statement fired a spark within her, and she spent several months practicing several hours each day. The very next semester, she earned an A with the same professor. That spark carried her to Boston University for her Master’s, and to the University of Iowa for her Ph.D. She is now a professor and professional musician. Quite the journey from her first semester of college

After sharing her personal journey, where we dove into many topics, Jacqueline entertained some of my “101” questions about classical music. She shared some tips about what to listen for when listening to music (repetition and musical tension i.e. dissonance).

Native Music

Jacqueline shared some Native musicians to check out, and they are great.

Connor Chee (Navajo) Navajo Vocable 9

Juantio Becenti (Navajo) Divertimento No. 4 for Piano Quartet

I’m so happy that she shared these pieces with me, I’m fascinated already and look forward to learning more about Natives doing their thing in this space. Have a listen.


Stacy Leeds | Cherokee Dean

“We never control the timing of our opportunities.”

“ I always thought about the removal with anger or sadness…and now I think about survival and resilience.”

Stacy Leeds

Stacy Leeds is a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is also Dean and Professor of Law at the University of ArkansasSchool of Law. Recently, the university reappointed Dean Leeds to a second term as Dean.

Let me restate that: Dean Leeds is a Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Stacy Leeds

photo courtesy of Stacy Leeds

I am excited to get this conversation on the record to share, because Stacy is one of Indian Country’s shining stars.

Stacy is from Muskogee, Oklahoma. She was active in sports, excelling in basketball. Eventually she played small forward at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She was not familiar with the school’s prestige when the school contacted her initially, she decided to attend because it was where she could play ball.

This is a familiar theme in Stacy’s life, jumping into something full steam ahead. I’ve always found, despite my desire to learn as much as I can about an issue, the best way to do things is to dive in. Because when you dive into something you cannot allow yourself to get in your own way.

After college, she attended the University of Tulsa College of Law. During law school, she realized her desire to enter legal academia. So after school she participated as a Hastie Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. When the fellowship was finished, she taught at the University of North Dakota.

Her next stop was at the University of Kansas teaching as part of the Indigenous Studies program. Here she was able to take on an interim role as Dean. It was here where she realized that she could take on this role. Soon after, she was presented an opportunity to apply for the Dean position at Arkansas.

One of my favorite parts of the conversation was listening to Dean Leeds discuss her recent experience as a participant in the Remember the Removal ride.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The challenge of choosing between two good options.
  • Finding the Native community regardless of where you live.
  • Getting burned out, and taking care of yourself to prevent it.
  • The importance of relationships in Indian Country, law, and beyond.
  • The power of relativity and connection.
  • Working “in” Indian Country, and what does it mean when opportunities arise to work beyond Indian Country exclusively.
  • The phone call she got when she was offered the Dean position.
  • The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

No matter where you are in your professional journey, you can take something away from Stacy’s experience.

Adrienne Keene on Native Appropriations and Academics

Adrienne Keene on using your voice “Our voices will not be centered unless we fight for Native voices to be heard.”

Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee) will begin a position at Brown University this fall as a tenure track Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department.

Adrienne Keene

Dr. Adrienne Keene

She also is the author of Native Appropriations, her website that “is a forum for discussing representations of Native peoples including stereotypes, cultural appropriations, news, activism and more.” Each of these accomplishments alone is impressive. The fact that Keene accomplished both in recent years is pretty amazing. Continue reading