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  • For decades, Jake Sloan has been a leader in promoting equal employment opportunities in construction in Oakland and neighboring communities. He has served on two occasions as the President of 100 Black Men. In his PhD studies at WISR, Jake is studying the history of the civil rights movement in the area of employment opportunities, and is compiling oral histories which draw on the wisdom of people engaged in this struggle during the past 50 years. Recently, Jake articulated his goals and his study plan, by stating, in part: “I want to get a good education that will allow me to understand how the world got to where it is and how it currently operates/functions, so that I can map a strategy to help make the world better for the African American community, for the wider society, for my family and for myself. The result will be that five years from now, I will be an activist scholar, writer and teacher. The overall purpose of my proposed approach, then, is to analyze each period of my study plan for general and specific lessons learned, to be used as building blocks to develop strategies for the present and the future for community and human capacity building, with the view that a stronger African American society will make for a stronger society at large. Once the program is completed, I will work as an activist scholar, writer and teacher, in collaboration with WISR, San Francisco State University and my own non profit organization, the African American development Institute (AADI). To that end, I propose to research and write papers on the periods 1940-1961; the 60s and 70s; the 80s and 90s; 2000 to 2010.
  • Agnes Morton is a veteran Community Health Nurse, Health Educator and Health Consultant. She holds a Master’s in Nursing from University of California, San Francisco, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.
    Agnes Morton working for change with her Overtown community

    Agnes Morton working for change with her Overtown community

    She was a Lecturer at San Francisco State University’s School of Ethnic Studies for 16 years where she taught two courses, “Health, Medicine and Nutrition in the Black Community”, and “ Black Issues in Gerontology.” After retiring from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Agnes enrolled in WISR’s PhD program, and relocated from San Francisco to her hometown, Miami, Florida where she is now active in her mid-70s in the movement for social change and improved health outcomes for Overtown, the historically black, disenfranchised community where she was born. Since returning to Miami, she has become active in a number of partnerships dedicated to improving the quality of life for Overtown residents, and her WISR PhD studies have revolved around her action-research involvements in Overtown. She has participated in the development of the “Overtown Cookbook,” a high school service-learning collaborative project, that has become a national model for community-based participatory research in the public health arena. She was a principal organizer of the first “Overtown Health and Justice Fair” that addressed the unmet health and social justice needs of underserved residents in Overtown. Her current work is focused upon the social determinants of health, health disparities, health literacy, health promotion and disease prevention in Overtown and other black diaspora communities; and grassroots organizing for social change. Her WISR dissertation is on “Community Organizing for Social Change and Improved Health Outcomes in Miami’s Overtown Community”.

  • We recently received the following letter from our doctoral alumni, Dennis Hastings and Margery Coffey, whose collaborative studies at WISR a few years ago have been invaluable in many ways to the Omaha people: “WISR’s remarkable capacity to provide the institutional flexibility for world-class academic research can find no better example than the joint dissertation proffered by In’aska: Dennis Hastings and Margery Coffey: Mi’onbathin entitled “Completely Illustrated: Grandfather Remembers— Broken Treaties/Stolen Land: The Omaha Land Theft,” (2009.) The yet unpublished work was referenced as a key document in the legal record filed on behalf of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa at the Tribal Court and District Court levels for litigation. The Smith vs. Parker case was originally brought before the Federal Court in 2007 by the Village of Pender, challenged the external boundaries of Reservation lands imposed upon the Omaha by the U.S. Government originally through an 1854 Treaty. Pender lost the decision in all the lower courts. The state of Nebraska joined the village in a final appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court changing the name to: Nebraska vs. Parker (Docket 14-1406.) Oral Arguments before the U. S. Supreme Court were heard January, 20, 2016.”By far the most detailed account of the loss of Omaha lands during these years can be found in In’aska and Coffey, “Grandfather Remembers,” pp. 491-620, 791-795, 802-804, passim,” wrote Dr. R. David Edmonds of the University of Texas, cited in Joint Appendix, Volume 4, Page 1007, footnote 205, compiled by the US. Supreme Court. The “excellent report,” as it has been referenced, was based upon a 1,500 page manuscript with 1,500 historic photographs and artwork, many of which have never before beenpublished; 126 pages total. Dr. Edmonds not only paid the WISR/OTHRP crafted work and the Omaha the highest professional compliment, but also delineated important criteria through which to present and interpret Native American history. [underline added to highlight the main point here] Included in Dr. Edmonds’ cited references were not only key passages of original research unknown to the authors of the published books on the subject — including one that was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize; but also, a fictional parody and photographic montage.
    Dennis Hastings is the Founder and Director of the Omaha Tribal Historical Research Project,  officially designated the cultural authority of the Omaha Tribe.

    Dennis Hastings is the Founder and Director of the Omaha Tribal Historical Research Project,
    officially designated the cultural authority of the Omaha Tribe.

    These are innovative narrative devices which, once published, will likely make publishing history by incorporating such stories and photographs for a visually-oriented culture rooted in oral history, demonstrating an equal weight of these stories and images in conveying tribal history as do “words.” It will be used in creating a curriculum on the Omaha culture and history for the Omaha people. Just as important, given the fact that 80% of all Indian Reservations in the United States today are non-tribally owned, “Grandfather Remembers” is the first and most detailed account of the loss of tribal lands in the post-Reservation era. The forthcoming book is thereby a model for the next half-century of archival research in the 21st Century, as The Omaha Tribe of Francis La Flesche and his collaborator Alice Fletcher was in anthropological field research, over 100 years ago at the birth of the 20th Century. This achievement with “Grandfather Remembers” provides key insight into how these lands all over the country were diminished through deceit, stealth, thievery and crooked sales, a history in the last third of the 19th Century whose only human rights equal in “America” is that of the prior 200 years of slavery itself, and are being pushed again by wealthy forces in American government today.” [additional underline added to highlight main point] (for more extensive details on how their WISR PhD studies are making difference on the Omaha reservation, and for the Omaha people, go to: http://www.wisr.edu/inquiry-and-social-change/wisr-publications/social-change-and-multiculturality/omaha-history/ )

  • The late Dr. Robert Nichol completed his PhD at WISR, in part to follow up on his interests and studies from his Master’s program in Anthropology at San Francisco State. Shortly after beginning his PhD studies, he became critically ill, but survived because he had the good fortune to receive a lung transplant. A few months later, he resumed his studies, and despite the health challenges of recovering from receiving, and then living with, a lung transplant, he continued to be very engaged with his PhD studies, aimed at helping others, and he finished the degree in several years time.  His PhD studies included: the development of a software program aimed at enabling people to engage in self-help efforts, to reduce their day-to-day stress, and a presentation on self-management to 25 patients at UCSF who have received or are waiting to receive an organ transplant. For his dissertation, Dr. Nichol created and studied two art-based stress management programs for adults. These programs drew on his extensive knowledge and experience in drama, art, music and poetry.After that, he remained deeply engaged with his scholarly efforts and with his endeavors to educate, support and assist others. He later passed away, about 12 years after receiving the lung transplant, and at that time, he was the lung transplant recipient who had shown the greatest longevity.

    Bob Nichol (R) graduating with his PhD, shown with WISR faculty member, John Bilorusky (L)

    Bob Nichol (R) graduating with his PhD, shown with WISR faculty member, John Bilorusky (L)