Windsor·INDIGENOUS SCHOLARS

Finding a 'shared history': Helping others adjust as only local Indigenous Scholar at UWindsor

The only Indigenous Scholar at the University of Windsor from the region grew up in Detroit — and watched her neighbourhood change from a welcoming location to a violent place.

'It taught me to learn to respect people for who they were' says Indigenous scholar

Sandra Muse, author and English professor at the University of Windsor, grew up in Detroit, Mich. (Michael Hargreaves/CBC)

The only Indigenous Scholar at the University of Windsor from the region grew up in Detroit — and watched her neighbourhood change from a welcoming location to a violent place.

"We remained [in Detroit] because it was home," said Sandra Muse, author and English professor at the University of Windsor. "It taught me to learn to respect people for who they were."

Muse is Eastern Cherokee from North Carolina, but her father moved to Detroit to work in the automotive industry in the 1950s. 

A book, written by Muse, focuses on the oral tradition of the Eastern Cherokee — something she had to learn through research, rather than first-hand experience. 

"I didn't learn enough [about it] in my upbringing because my family had been away from the reservation for two generations," said Muse, adding getting the book published was a "lifelong dream."

A shared history

As the only local Indigenous Scholar in the University of Windsor's program, Muse has had a hand in helping the others settle in.

"I've helped a couple who are originally from over in the states with beginning to understand the political system and the differences between the Indian Act and status, non-status, the way that the U.S. government measure blood ... that sort of thing." said Muse. "[But] there is a shared history."

With Muse's help, 16 local high schools are on the way to switching their Grade 11 English reading options to Indigenous literature. Eight have already changed over, with four this year and four next year. 

"[Indigenous literature] is the fastest growing canon of literature in North America," said Muse. "There are all kinds of people just coming out of the woodwork and winning high-scale literary awards in both countries."

This interview, aired on Windsor Morning, is the fifth in a series about the five Indigenous scholars hired last year by the University of Windsor. 

Tony Doucette interviews English professor and published author Sandra Muse. 8:49

Windsor Morning featured all five Indigenous scholars in the last few months. 

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