The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Sonya Atalay

Sonya Atalay
Title: 
Provost Professor
Contact: 
satalay@umass.edu
Biography: 

Dr. Sonya Atalay (Anishinaabe-Ojibwe) is an Indigenous archaeologist, utilizing community-based participatory methods to conduct research in full partnership with Indigenous communities. Dr. Atalay’s scholarship crosses disciplinary boundaries, incorporating aspects of cultural anthropology, archaeology, critical heritage studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. She’s currently involved in producing a series of research-based comics about repatriation of Native American ancestral remains, return of sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) law.

In her most recent work, Dr. Atalay is exploring ways that repatriation and reclaiming of tangible and intangible heritage are teachers that provides essential lessons for decolonizing and Indigenizing institutions. This work will be published in her forthcoming “Braiding Knowledge: How Indigenous Knowledge is Challenging and Changing Universities” which will be published by University of Arizona Press.

 Dr. Atalay’s work examines how repatriation can contribute to healing from historical trauma. Centering Anishinaabe epistemologies and concepts of well-being, Dr. Atalay is working on a series of land-based collaborative projects that involve intergenerational Indigenous knowledge production and knowledge mobilization practices. Working with Indigenous youth and elders, she explores collaborative production of comics, animation, and virtual reality applications as part of 21st century Indigenous storywork processes.