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Waziyatawin is a Dakota professor, author, and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota.[1] She splits her time between Minnesota and Victoria, British Columbia in Coast Salish territories.[2]

She is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria,[3][4] and is recognized as a leading indigenous intellectual.[5] Her research interests include indigenous women's roles in resisting colonialism, recovering indigenous knowledge, and truth-telling as part of restorative justice.[6]

Early life[edit]

Waziyatawin was born Angela Lynn Cavender, and grew up both on-reserve and in cities. Both her parents were educators.[7] In 2007 she legally changed her name from her married name, Angela Cavender Wilson, to Waziyatawin, a name an elder gave her as a child and which means "woman of the north".[1]

Education and career[edit]

She earned a double major in history and American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota, then completed masters and doctoral degrees in history at Cornell University. Her Ph.D thesis was an oral history project that she later published as Remember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives.

She earned tenure at Arizona State University and taught there until 2007.[1] In 2008, she joined the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria, saying she was interested in the program's commitment to indigenous liberation and social action.[6]

Waziyatawin is the author or editor of six books about Dakota history, indigenous resistance, and decolonizing strategies.[4] She founded Oyate Nipi Kte, a non-profit organization dedicated to "the recovery of Dakota traditional knowledge, sustainable ways of being, and Dakota liberation."


As an activist, Waziyatawin gained public attention in 2007 when she was arrested multiple times while protesting the Minnesota sesquicentennial celebration.[1][8] The protests aimed to raise awareness of broken treaties[1] and colonial violence, including the hanging of 38 Dakota men during the Dakota War of 1862 (the largest mass execution in American history).[9]

In 2010, The Winona Post published a letter from a student who had attended a lecture she gave at Winona State University, saying she had incited violence against white people and calling her position "terrorism". Waziyatawin said she was subsequently contacted by the FBI, but they later closed the case about her.[10][11] In response she told CBC News, "My position is that I don't call for violence outright but my recommendation does not preclude the use of violence for indigenous self-defence — the defence of our populations or defence of our land base... Never have I advocated violence against white settlers."[2]

In 2011, she travelled to Palestine with a group of indigenous and women of colour scholars and artists including Angela Davis, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, and Ayoka Chenzira. Afterwards the group published a statement endorsing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.[12] Waziyatawin has drawn connections between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and colonialism in North America.[13]


  • For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook, Santa Fe: School of Advanced Research Press, 2012.
  • What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland, St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2008.
  • In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors: The Dakota Commemorative Marches of the 21st Century, St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2006.
  • Remember This! Dakota Decolonization and the Eli Taylor Narratives, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
  • For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook, Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2005.
  • Indigenizing the Academy: Transforming Scholarship and Empowering Communities, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.


  1. ^ a b c d e Hawthorn, Tom (Jun 11, 2008). "Part scholar, part activist". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b "B.C. professor's lecture prompts FBI call". CBC News. January 11, 2011. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Chairholders". Canada Research Chairs. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Indigenous Governance - Faculty". University of Victoria. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  5. ^ University Communications (28 January 2012). "Waziyatawin calls for resistance". SCSU Now. St Cloud State University. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. ^ a b Shore, Valerie (1 July 2008). "Indigenous historian is UVic's newest Canada Research Chair". The Ring. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  7. ^ Sexsmith, Pamela (2008). "Waziyatawin appointed to head up governance program". Windspeaker. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  8. ^ Coleman, Nick (November 12, 2008). "Marking another part of our state's history that some prefer to forget". Star Tribune. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  9. ^ McGuire, Kara (May 11, 2008). "Celebration, somber protest at Capitol". Star Tribune. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  10. ^ "UVic prof investigated by FBI". Maclean's On Campus. January 12, 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  11. ^ Yuen, Laura (01/07/2011). "FBI asks about Dakota activist's controversial speech". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 25 January 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Abunimah, Ali (07/01/2011). "After witnessing Palestine's apartheid, Indigenous and Women of Color feminists endorse BDS". Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 28 January 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Postlethwaite, Ben (2012-10-21). "Speaker Provides Unique Perspective on Israeli-Palistinean Conflict". The New Political. Retrieved 28 January 2013.

External links[edit]