Tatonetti to focus on Kansas Land Treaties project as K-State's 2023-2024 Coffman chair
MANHATTAN — Lisa Tatonetti, Kansas State University's newest Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, will focus on bringing Indigenous peoples, cultures and history to light through the Kansas Land Treaties Project.
Tatonetti is a settler scholar and professor of English at K-State, where she studies, teaches and publishes on queer Indigenous literature and film. She's a founding member of K-State's Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance, and she works with the group to bring hundreds of students and educators to campus each year for K-State's Indigenous Peoples' Day Conference.
The Coffman chair was created in 1995 to highlight K-State's commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. Each chair is an acknowledged leading teaching scholar and is provided the time and resources to conduct a research project or develop programs to improve educational methods at the university. Recipients retain the title of teaching scholar throughout their career at K-State.
Tatonetti's Kansas Land Treaties project is a collaborative digital humanities endeavor that foregrounds the knowledge that Kansas State University, the first land-grant institution in the U.S., rests on land that was once held in common by the Kaáⁿze níkashiⁿga, or Kanza people, today known as the Kaw Nation.
Tatonetti and her collaborators said the institutional importance of this project is undeniable, as K-State is not only the first land-grant institution, but also the only such institution to receive all land grants from a single Indigenous nation.
The Kansas Land Treaties project began as a collaboration through K-State's Chapman Center for Rural Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Current project collaborators include Mary Kohn, director of the Chapman Center, Tai Edwards, director of the Kansas Studies Institute at Johnson County Community College, and Kaw Nation collaborators, including Kaw Nation citizen C. Huffman.
The project includes a website where students, educators and community members can access the Kanza-U.S. land cession treaties, contextual histories, a timeline, treaty annotations and audio interviews. All materials on the site were created in consultation with Kaw Nation members.
Tatonetti said the project, which won a 2022 Humanities Kansas grant, has involved students from its inception. K-State students Kinsley Searles, Chester Hubbard and Haley Reiners have undertaken research on the project supported by College of Arts and Sciences grants, presented to the state Legislature and at a national conference, and discussed maps and decolonizing geography at campus events and the Manhattan Public Library.
"Dr. Tatonetti is an excellent choice as this year’s Coffman Chair," said Chris Culbertson, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "She is a remarkable and engaging professor who is well respected by her students. This fellowship will allow her to continue to work with the Chapman Center and K-State students to develop materials to help Kansans better understand their history and relationships with the Indigenous peoples of the state, especially the Kaw nation."
During her time as the 2023-2024 Coffman chair, Tatonetti said she will advance the Kansas Land Treaties project in the following ways:
• Working with collaborators on annotations for the next land cessation treaty, the Treaty of 1846.
• Holding campuswide conversations about land-grant responsibilities in partnership with the Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance.
•Making an educational video in partnership with Kaw Nation members and K-State's College of Education.
• Creating a curriculum to help K-State and Kansas educators teach this essential content.
"The digital, video and curricular resources that this Coffman chair project supports will augment humanities teaching and learning in Kansas by infusing place-based learning into our principals and methods of teaching at K-State and promoting essential understandings about Indigenous peoples and histories as a best teaching practice within our university and across the state," said Tatonetti.
Karin Westman, department head of English, commended Tatonetti's influence on the university and selection as Coffman chair:
"Professor Tatonetti's commitment to undergraduate teaching provides pathways to lifelong learning and new knowledge — of literature, of history, and our own place in the current moment. A true teacher-scholar and the recipient of seven teaching awards, she will bring to her term as Coffman chair an impressive commitment, tireless energy, and a familiarity with K-State that presages a long-term contribution to the community of learners across the University."
Tatonetti is the co-editor of "Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature" and author of the books "The Queerness of Native American Literature" and "Written by the Body: Gender Expansiveness and Indigenous Non-cis Masculinities."
Her scholarship and teaching prowess have been recognized through multiple awards, including, most recently, the Beatrice Medicine Award for Best Published Monograph from the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures and the Ron Gaches Lifetime Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. She is the 2022-2024 Michael Donnelly Professor of English in recognition of her contributions to teaching, research and service.
A native of Florida, Tatonetti earned a bachelor's degree in English from Florida State University and a master's and doctorate in English from The Ohio State University.