LIT Project: Literacies, Inclusion & Transit

Students engaged in Undergraduated Research

$500,000 over 3 years from the Mellon Foundation

The LIT Project supports an increasingly diverse student population by reinforcing intercultural competence in both students and faculty through:

  • High-quality diversity training on campus
  • Professional development for faculty
  • Undergraduate research activities in the humanities

Embracing transitional moments

Infrastructure and culture are integral components to the LIT Project's success. To this end, FLC is committed to the following:

  • Altering workplace environments to address changing needs
  • Identifying and engaging implicit bias
  • Navigating difficult discussions and personal interactions
  • Collaborating and designing solutions with a focus on diversity and inclusion
  • Communicating for multiple audiences and engaging multiple perspectives
  • Embracing learning and inquiry as continuous processes
  • Empowering others through conscious choice

Focus areas

Literacies: engage with multiple literacies

Students will learn how to switch lenses and view experiences through multiple and varied perspectives through exposure to culturally diverse scholars, increased undergraduate research in the humanities, and co-curricular activities that evoke engagement in multiple ways of understanding our world.

Inclusion: embrace diversity and difference

We will infuse the educational experience at FLC with opportunities that promote acceptance of difference and a desire to thoroughly include diverse peoples and perspectives.

Transit: adapt to changing environments

Faculty and students alike will explore ideas of motion, movement, and change. Whether physical, economic, social, or emotional, humans live increasingly within a world of transit. Encouraging students to embrace adaptability will position graduates to have the best chance of success as they navigate the many spaces they will face throughout their lives.

  • Literacy
  • Inclusion
  • Transit
  • Indigenous Speaker Series

FLC will host nationally known scholars of Native American or Indigenous Studies each semester. The scholars will teach courses on a topic related to literacies, inclusion, and/or transit, conduct monthly discussions/workshops for faculty, and give lectures open to all students, faculty, staff, and the public. These scholars will serve as a role model for the grounding philosophies of the LIT Project as well as experts in one or more of the areas.


Goals & accomplishments


Faculty workshops on inclusive pedagogy

FLC will host a workshop leader to facilitate curricular revisions supporting diversity and inclusion, with the aim of creating curricula and pedagogical practices that reflect the racially and ethnically student population that FLC serves. Each year different faculty members will receive stipends to participate in workshops, modify their curriculum, and pilot their curriculum the following semester. Additionally, FLC will develop a diversity requirement within the general education curriculum including theme-based paths that reflect the LIT program.

These workshops will specifically engage faculty in the idea of transit(ion). As they start to understand their curriculum and classroom from the student's perspective, and as they embrace new strategies to address a multicultural student population, they will be asked to alter what they do.

Goals & accomplishments


Undergraduate research in the humanities

By the end of the project the majority of campus will be engaged in undergraduate research, which is critical to academic success for under-served minority students. FLC will encourage: 

  • Faculty mentorship 
  • Students developing projects, presentations, and publications.
  • Interdisciplinary research addressing diversity, inclusion, and change
  • Oral history projects, digital recordings, and philosophy
  • Collaboration and self-reflection

Goals & accomplishments


Indigenous Speaker Series

Stephen Graham Jones

SGJStephen Graham Jones is the NYT bestselling author of nearly thirty novels and collections, and there's some novellas and comic books in there as well. Most recent are The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins, and My Heart is a Chainsaw. Stephen lives and teaches in Boulder, Colorado. 

Nick Estes

Nick EstesNick Estes (Kul Wicasa) is assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He organizes with the Red Nation, an indigenous-led leftist organization committed to indigenous liberation. He is also part of the collective for Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics. His advocacy and research focus on indigenous resistance, anticolonialism, abolition, decolonization, and anticapitalism. He is the author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019). 

Melanie K. Yazzie

Melanie YazzieMelanie K. Yazzie (Diné) is an assistant professor in the Departments of Native American Studies and American Studies at the University of Minnesota. She organizes with the Red Nation, an indigenous-led leftist organization committed to indigenous liberation. She is lead editor of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, an international journal committed to public intellectualism and social justice. 

David Correia

David CorreiaDavid Correia is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Properties of Violence: Law and Land Grant Struggle in Northern New Mexico (University of Georgia Press, 2013), and coauthor of Police: A Field Guide (Verso, 2018). 

Madonna Thunder Hawk 

Madonna-Thunder-Hawk-Headshot-minMadonna Thunder Hawk is a Lakota Matriarch and organizing force behind every  modern Native occupation from Alcatraz, Wounded Knee in 1973, to the Standing  Rock #NODAPL protest. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she was radicalized in the late 1960s as a force of nature within the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. A powerful voice for Native resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken around the world as part of the global movement for Indigenous rights, serving as a delegate to the United Nations. Featured in the 2018 Peabody nominated film Warrior Women, she lives on Cheyenne River reservation where she established the Wasagiya Najin "Grandmothers' Group," works as a tribal liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project, and is the matriarch behind the Warrior Women Project, a collective for the development of scholarship, media, and activism. She is the original Gangster Granny.

Marcella Gilbert

Marcy Gilbert HeadshotMarcella Gilbert, featured in WARRIOR WOMEN, is the daughter of Madonna Thunder Hawk and a Lakota and Dakota community organizer with a focus on health education, food sovereignty, and cultural revitalization. Gilbert graduated from the We Will Remember Survival Group and at seventeen was a delegate to the International Indian Treaty Council to Geneva in 1977. She earned a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and worked as a Community Development Field Specialist for South Dakota State University Extension on Cheyenne River reservation. She works to reintroduce sustainable traditional foods and organic farming to her reservation as an expression of the most fundamental form of survival and empowerment. Gilbert currently works with the non-profit Simply Smiles where she manages a garden project that includes wild food  identification, harvest, and food processing. She is also working on launching the pilot project of her own survival school Waniyetu Iyawapi (Winter Count) Mobile Learning Experience.

Marcella and Madonna are protagonists of the documentary Warrior Women. You can watch the film trailer here.

Michael Cepek

Michael CepekMichael Cepek, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist whose work with the Cofán Indigenous people of Ecuador has been the subject of two acclaimed ethnographies, Life in Oil: Cofán Survival in the Petroleum Fields of Amazonia, and A Future for Amazonia: Randy Borman and Cofán Environmental Politics. Cepek is a fluent speaker of A’ingae, the language of the Cofán. He serves as president of the board of the Cofán Survival Fund, a non-profit organization that supports Cofán-directed conservation and sustainable development initiatives in Amazonian Ecuador. Cepek is a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

Michael Cepek will be discussing his knowledge of the Ecuadorian oil case against Chevron and his book about the situation, Life in Oil, available through Reed Library. 

Hugo Lucitante

Hugo LucitanteHugo Lucitante is a member of the Cofán Indigenous people of Ecuador. He grew up in the Amazon until, at the age of 10, he was sent to the United States to learn English. He stayed until he graduated high school, then returned to complete an undergraduate degree at Brown University. Lucitante is now a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and PhD student in Anthropology at University of Texas San Antonio. He is pursuing community-based participatory research with the Cofán, and he works to ensure the cultural survival of his people. Hugo is the subject of the film Oil and Water, available through Reed Library. He is married to Sadie Lucitante, and together they are raising their young daughter. 

Marcus Briggs-Cloud

Marcus JubileeMarcus Briggs-Cloud (Maskoke) is a language revitalizer, scholar, musician and co-director of Ekvn-Yefolecv Maskoke ecovillage. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, he is currently a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida, where his work intersects ecology, liberation theology, and linguistics. Marcus received awards for his Maskoke hymn album Pum Vculvke Vrakkuecetv, and in 2012 he served as composer and choir director for the Vatican canonization liturgy with Pope Benedict XVI for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. He is partnered to Tawna Little (Maskoke) and they have two children, Nokos-Afvnoke and Hemokke, with whom Marcus enjoys speaking exclusively in the Maskoke language.

Theodore C Van Alst, Jr

TVA reading by ASitT-1Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.'s linked story collection about sort of growing up in Chicago, Sacred Smokes, winner of the 2019 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing, is now in its second printing. His next work, Sacred City, will be published Fall 2021, also by the University of New Mexico Press, who released his edited volume The Faster Redder Road: The Best UnAmerican Stories of Stephen Graham Jones. He is the Creative Editor for Transmotion (a journal of postmodern indigenous studies) and an Active Horror Writers Association member. His fiction and photography have been published in The Massachusetts Review, The Raven Chronicles, Red Earth Review, The Journal of Working-Class Studies, Southwest Review, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, and Yellow Medicine Review, among others. 

Heid E. Erdrich

Heid E. Erdrich-1

Heid E. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Her new poetry collection Little Big Bully won a National Poetry Series award in 2019 and was published by Penguin in 2020. Heid edited the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations which won an American Book Award. Heid’s work has won awards including a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship and two Minnesota Book Awards for poetry. Heid teaches in the low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program of Augsburg University. She is the 2021 Glasgow (virtual) Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University.

Becca Gercken

Gercken Morse Award Cropped

Becca Gercken (Eastern Band Cherokee, Irish, and Pennsylvania Dutch descent) is an associate professor of English and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and a founding faculty member of the NAIS program at the University of Minnesota Morris. Gercken’s research frequently focuses on representations of indigenous people and indigenous expressive cultures. Her most recent project is a monograph about historical and contemporary ledger narratives. 

Esther Belin

esther (4 of 5)

Esther Belin, a Diné writer and artist, won the American Book Award for her first book of poetry, From the Belly of My Beauty in 2000. Her second book, Of Cartography, was published in 2017. She is currently an MFA faculty mentor at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Tom Goldtooth

GoldtoothTom B.K. Goldtooth (born July 27, 1953) is a Native American  environmental, climate, and economic justice activist, speaker, film producer, and Indigenous rights leader within the climate and environmental justice and Indigenous movement. Tom is active in local, national and international levels as an advocate for building healthy and sustainable Indigenous communities based upon the foundation of Indigenous traditional knowledge. TOm has served as executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) since 1996 after serving as a member of the IEN National Council since 1992. 

Anna Walters

AWaltersAnna Walters’ roots are in Plains Tribal groups, but she has lived in the Southwest most of her adult life. She is the author of the novels Ghost Singer and Vows and also writes short fiction and poetry. Walters teaches at Diné College in Arizona. The calling to “take care of” old and new has been inside of her since a very early age. It is what she means to do for the rest of her life. Toward that end, she created Soje Publishing (, which is not so much an author’s website, as it is a community website for Native American stories and storytellers.

Tristan Ahtone

TAhtone-1Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, Frontline, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.