In Spring 2020, Davidson College benefitted from its first Native American faculty member, Mellon Visiting Professor of Anthropology Courtney Lewis. Dr. Lewis earned her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of Anthropology, followed by two degrees in economics (B.A. University of Michigan, M.A. Wayne State University). She was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Americas at Wesleyan University, and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina in the Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Southern Studies. Her research focuses on individual Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians small business owners and entrepreneurs. She examines the place of small businesses in economic development for Native Nations in the United States and, consequently, issues of sovereignty related to —and based upon the necessity of— economic sustainability and stability.
At Davidson, Lewis taught a cross-listed course in Anthropology and Environmental Studies that focuses on contemporary American Indian nations with particular attention paid to the impact of settler colonialism on Indigenous health and well-being, food sovereignty, and Indigenous “foodpreneurs.” Students enrolled in this course had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC over spring break to meet with Chef Freddie Bitsoei (Navajo) and attend the annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association in May. Dr. Lewis and Dr. Rose Stremlau (History, GSS) are organized three campus events featuring scholars working on this issue as well as business people from Native nations in the Carolinas. As part of the residency, Dr. Lewis also gave a public lecture in the Being Human series: “The Business of Humanity: The Person-Corporation, Community Responsibility, and Native Nations Sovereignty.”