Morris Cohort

A campus/community partner of the Mellon Environmental Stewardship, Place, and Community Initiative.

The Morris Cohort is leading practical curricular and co-curricular institutional change through projects that will help decolonize and indigenize institutional practices, and reflect their context as a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution. They are holding six listening sessions open to the campus community and tribal partners, asking how decolonization, indigenization, and sustainability can be integrated into work at Morris. They are bridging Native Indigenous studies in North America and Latin America with curriculum connecting trans-Indigenous literatures, methods, and themes. Morris is partnering with the Sisseton Wapheton Oyate to explore how traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous food and seed sovereignty practices can inform food systems and food security.


Leadership Team

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Faculty Lead: Becca Gercken

Becca Gercken (Eastern Band Cherokee, Irish, and Pennsylvania Dutch descent) is an associate professor in English and a founding faculty member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies major. Gercken’s research frequently focuses on representations of indigenous people and indigenous expressive cultures. Her most recent project is a monograph about historical and contemporary ledger narratives. With co-lead Kevin Whalen, Gercken has led the summer “field school” course on Indigenous Education, in which students study contextual literature and use that knowledge to craft an understanding of the Morris campus’ boarding school history. Gercken received the Horace T. Morse Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education in 2017.

Faculty Lead: Kevin Whalen

Kevin Whalen is an assistant professor in History, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and African and Black American Studies. His areas of expertise include Native America, Indigenous education, the American west, and labor history. With co-lead Becca Gercken, Whalen has led the summer “field school” course on Indigenous Education, in which students study contextual literature and use that knowledge to craft an understanding of the Morris campus’s boarding school history.

Adam W. Coon

Adam Coon is an assistant professor of Spanish, Nahuatl, and Latin American Studies at the University of Minnesota Morris. He specializes in contemporary Nahua cultural production and language revitalization, contemporary Indigenous literatures, and post-colonial and decolonial studies.

Simón Franco

Simón Franco is the University of Minnesota Morris Assistant Director of Student Activities. He primarily works with student leaders, including the Campus Activities Council and Orientation Group Leaders. Simón also developed and implemented the Morris Leadership Education and Development program (MLEAD), which has become a signature program for the Morris campus and is part of the Sustainability Leadership minor.

Erin Kiyukanpi

Erin Kiyukanpi is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris with a major in Native American and Indigenous Studies. Through UMN Morris’ Center for Small Towns, Erin has worked with the Morris Area Farmers Market; he has also worked with the campus Native American Garden. He is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe.

Clement Loo

Clement Loo is a lecturer/assistant professor of Environmental Studies, affiliated faculty of Philosophy, and Student Success Coordinator in the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Intercultural Programs at the University of Minnesota Morris. He is also an Institute on the Environment Educator. His research and advocacy focuses on identifying strategies for empowering marginalized communities and to improve access to healthy and culturally appropriate foods.