Matt Villeneuve details the simultaneous intrigue and frustration that comes from discovering an interesting source with minimal detail. He explains the winding path of constructing a story—from the mysterious nature of a single clue to the sometimes serendipitous breakthroughs of the archive.

The clue was a note, tucked away in a digitized letter, referencing a 1969 illustration of an indigenous woman in protest. Equipped with questions about the US indigenous past, Villeneuve goes on the hunt for this illustration. From digital collections to libraries to social media, he makes connections over time to build a story. From an ambiguous note, the story transforms into one that considers the nature of art and protest in the history of schools as sites for the erasure of indigenous culture. 

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Historian Biography

Matt Villeneuve is a historian of indigenous history, education, and United States history. His work at the University of Michigan seeks to bring together historians who examine schools in the broader sweep of American history and scholars of indigenous studies who consider the harmful legacies of schooling in Indian Country. To make these connections, Matt uses the educational and political philosophy of leading twentieth-century American philosopher John Dewey to complicate our understanding of the democratic potential of schooling.

Production Credits

Episode Producer: Matt Villeneuve

Host and Season Producer: Daniela Sheinin

Executive Producer: Gregory Parker 

Editorial Board: Gregory Parker, Daniela Sheinin, Melanie Tanielian, Matt Villeneuve 

Presented by the University of Michigan Department of History

© 2019 Regents of the University of Michigan

Image: "Paper Cut," Nicholas Lucien (CC-BY 2.0).