MISSOULA – The American Council of Learned Societies has named Rosalyn LaPier, a University of Montana associate professor and environmental researcher, a 2020 Fellow in its program on religion, journalism and international affairs.
LaPier is the first UM faculty member in 17 years to earn a fellowship from this prestigious organization.
The program connects scholars in the humanities and social sciences with journalists and media outlets to deepen public understanding of the roles religion plays in the most pressing issues faced by societies around the world – from migration and immigration, to politics and economic policy, to the environment.
LaPier, an award-winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental activist, was just one of seven recipients to receive this year’s fellowship. Recipients receive a $63,000 award to implement their projects, as well as media training and an invitation to a symposium to meet with leading journalists to discuss key issues in religion and international affairs.
LaPier’s multifaceted study is titled “Protest as Pilgrimage.”
“My work will focus on Indigenous women in environmental activism and the transformation of places of protest into places of religious pilgrimage for Indigenous peoples,” LaPier said. “I want to look at how these places become sanctified and where people go to pray.”
A member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis, LaPier has written extensively about Indigenous knowledge and environmental activism in Indigenous communities, including several articles about the Standing Rock protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
LaPier said most of the articles and books she’s written have a decidedly academic bent, and she’s excited about the chance to hone her abilities to reach a broader audience.
“To be able to give general audiences a deeper understanding of the roles of women in global Indigenous environmental activism would lead, I hope, to a greater appreciation for our history and culture,” she said. “That would be rewarding and, to me, a huge success.”