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UW Professor to Give Virtual Sandeen Lecture Dec. 7

December 3, 2020
Caskey Russell

Caskey Russell, a University of Wyoming Department of English associate professor and an adjunct faculty member in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, will present the Sandeen Lecture in the Humanities Monday, Dec. 7.

Russell will discuss “‘Then Fight For It’: The History of Alaskan Native Civil Rights.” His talk will be at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom at The webinar ID is 863 6699 1098. The lecture will be available to watch later on the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research YouTube channel.

The Sandeen Lecture in the Humanities is named for Eric Sandeen, a former professor and chair of UW’s American Studies Program, and the founding director and director emeritus of the humanities research institute.

The humanities research institute and the Wyoming Humanities Council co-sponsor the lecture.

“Each year, the faculty fellows in the cohort of the institute's Humanities Research Group vote to decide which fellow will deliver the lecture,” says Scott Henkel, the humanities research institute director. “To be chosen for it is a particular honor, showing the respect of one's peers and showcasing some of the best humanities research by UW faculty.”

Russell will examine the history of Alaskan Native civil rights through the context of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 that banned and penalized racial discrimination and segregation throughout the Alaska territory.

To understand how the bill became law nearly 20 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Russell will examine the tribal histories of the architects of the Anti-Discrimination Act -- Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich, both Tlingit Indians -- as well as the Native political organizations that evolved in Alaska to combat racial discrimination.

“It is likely many Americans have never heard of the Peratroviches, or of the brutal segregation and racism that Alaskan Natives faced throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, or of the decades-long battle Alaskan Natives engaged in to end that segregation,” Russell says.

Russell recently was named UW’s new director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program and the associate director of the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice. Russell, an enrolled member of the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, previously held the role as director of the program from July 2014-June 2017.

Russell received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English, both from Western Washington University, and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon. Throughout his career, he has written a book, contributed articles and chapter writings, received several honors and awards, and has secured several grants.

For more information about the lecture, email Henkel at or

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