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Exploring the Mind | Omission as the Modern Form of Bias Against Indigenous People


Monday January 9, 2023: 6:00pm to 7:30pm  Add to Calendar /   Add to Google Calendar


Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room


Join Dr Stephanie A. Fryberg, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, for a presentation on her research into the psychological and social consequences of the omission of Indigenous Peoples from the collective recollection of our nation. We'll learn what this exclusion has cost our Indigenous neighbors, and how civic engagement can create a more equitable future.

In the U.S. cultural imagination, Indigenous Peoples loom large in romanticized and stereotyped ways, yet contemporary Indigenous Peoples are largely omitted from the public conscience. In K-12 education, for example, 87% of references to Indigenous Americans portray them in a pre-1900’s context. In mainstream media, less than .5% of representations are of contemporary Indigenous Peoples. Utilizing both experimental and national survey studies, Dr Fryberg demonstrates that prevalent representations of Indigenous Peoples (or lack thereof) shape how people think, feel, and subsequently act towards Indigenous Peoples, as well as how Indigenous Peoples feel about themselves and act to make change in society. Dr Fryberg's research shows that recognizing Indigenous omission shapes discrimination and both implicit and explicit bias towards Indigenous Peoples, including attitudes about the use of redface, and apathy towards the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls epidemic.  Her work demonstrates that sensitivity to Indigenous omission has adverse psychological consequences for Indigenous Peoples’ wellbeing, but also serves to galvanize efforts to change the status quo through civic engagement. By making visible the pernicious consequences of omission and highlighting Indigenous agency and resistance to omission, we illuminate a path towards creating a more equitable future for Indigenous Peoples.

Stephanie A. Fryberg is the University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Psychology and founding Director of the Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity Center at the University of Michigan. Dr. Fryberg’s research expertise focuses on how social representations of race, culture, and social class influence the development of self, psychological well-being, and educational attainment; and on designing interventions that reconfigure educational spaces to improve outcomes for racial minority and low-income students. Dr. Fryberg’s seminal work on the psychological effects of using Native Peoples as mascots has been used across the country to eliminate racist mascots in schools, colleges, and professional sports domains. She also testified before for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the impact of racist stereotypes on Indigenous people, served as lead psychologist on Amicus Brief for Harjo v. Pro-Football, and was an expert witness in the Keepseagle v. U.S. Department of Agriculture class action lawsuit. 

This program is in partnership with the University of Michigan Department of Psychology.