Sovereignty Expanded: Indigenous Geographies of the Contemporary American West

“Sovereignty Expanded: Indigenous Geographies of the Contemporary American West”, 28-29 February 2020

Organizers Bill Anthes, Professor of Art, Pitzer College; Hans Baumann, conceptual artist and land art practitioner; Angela Mooney D’Arcy, Founder and Executive Director, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples; and Ciara Ennis, Director of Cultural Affairs and Curator, Pitzer College Art Galleries, Pitzer College

Participants – Desiree Renee Martinez, Co-Director of the Pimu Catalina Island Archaeological Field School; AnMarie Mendoza, co-creator and director of the film The Aqueduct Between Us; Isaiah Mendoza, Tongva filmmaker, cinematographer and editor of The Aqueduct Between Us; Julia Bogany, Tongva Tribal Council member and Vice President of Keepers of Indigenous Ways; Charles Sepulveda, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of Utah; Kathleen Steward Howe, Director of the Pomona College Museum of Art and Emerita Professor of Art History; Gerald Clarke, Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Riverside; Lauren Bon, Executive Director, Metabolic Studio; Terria Smith, member of Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, Director of the Berkeley Roundhouse, Heyday Books; Pamela Peters, Indigenous multimedia documentarian; Elizabeth Kahn, Founder and CEO of the ONWARD Project non-profit organization; and Manuelito Wheeler, Director, Navajo Nation Museum.

Achievements, contribution, outcomes, and legacies – Sovereignty Expanded” assembled academics, artists, activists, and students and explored the radical and multivalent potential of indigenous sovereignty in the contemporary American West. Building on Pitzer College’s long tradition of supporting academic initiatives that draw from radical geography, activism, and indigenous studies, this event generated significant interdisciplinary interest at the regional (general public, students, arts community) and national/international levels (academic,
indigenous communities).

The event was a hybrid workshop-conference in which participants had the opportunity to attend traditional, structured lectures while also engaging in non-hierarchical exchanges of knowledge generated through panel discussions and post-lecture Q&A. Sessions included: The Future of Tovaangar: Challenges to Expanded Sovereignty in Los Angeles (how art practices, activism, and indigenous resources are being used to envision a more equitable future for the indigenous peoples of the Los Angeles basin); Decolonizing the Geography of the American West (identifying and dismantling socio-ecological manifestations of colonialism and imagining an alternate geography for the American West based upon indigeneity, mutualism, and equity); and Narratives of Sovereignty (how journalists, archivists, and media specialists are using a wide range of media as tools for strengthening tribal communities and re-establishing or strengthening connections to tribal homelands). The structure contributed to the generative spirit of “Sovereignty Expanded” in which content spread across lectures was discussed and interpreted.

The symposium was free and open to the public to encourage engagement from all communities. Lectures, film screenings, and panels were recorded, and made available on the internet. A permanent website ( was built to archive content and make it available to the many indigenous communities in North America. It is our hope that this event provided a framework for future scholarship on indigenous geographies in the American West, while also providing visibility for these same communities in the present.