Departmental Papers (Religious Studies)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

9-2015

Publication Source

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society

Volume

159

Issue

3

Start Page

282

Last Page

295

Abstract

As the director of Native American projects for the past 7 years, I have been watching distinguished scholars give talks like this one from the back row of the upper balcony. One of the things I noticed is that almost everyone, from Nobel Prize winners to astrophysicists, begins his or her talk by admitting how intimidating it is to speak to such a distinguished audience. And I can certainly second that emotion here today. So as I was writing the talk, I was trying to imagine a way to calm my anxiety and I came up with a highly questionable solution. What if, I imagined, I were talking to Thomas Jefferson? It would, no offense, make the American Philosophical Society (APS) audience seem tame by comparison. So I began by asking: How would I explain myself to Jefferson, who started the Native American collection in the late 18th century when he served simultaneously as the president of the United States and the president of the APS? Oh, yeah—I’m feeling calmer now!

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Date Posted: 18 September 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.