This article was originally posted on Northeastern Global News by Alena Kuzub.
When Getty Lustila decided he wanted to go into philosophy, he fully committed himself to going to graduate school, getting his doctorate degree and securing a job.
Right around that time, he says, he started reconnecting with his Native American roots in a very private way. He rekindled relationships with those family members who felt a strong bond with their Indigenous heritage and looked for ways to connect with his tribe — Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
“For a long time, I just thought about those two parts of myself as very separate from one another,” says Lustila, an assistant teaching professor of philosophy and religion at Northeastern.
Eventually, he had learned that there was a small handful of philosophers in the United States who specialized in Native American philosophy and Indigenous philosophy. This helped him see a way in which he too could devote more space in his professional identity to his Choctaw identity.
Lustila started to include some topics related to Indigenous thought in his environmental ethics course. Last fall, he established the Indigenous Studies Circle — a student-led working group affiliated with the Ethics Institute at Northeastern. He says he saw two purposes for the group.
“A lot of students were interested in and had questions about Indigenous studies [in his classes], and they just didn’t have an outlet for that,” he says. “So it was an opportunity for me to provide that space to do that.”
He also saw it as a chance to lay the groundwork for a future course he wanted to teach — Indigenous philosophy.