- IU Bloomington
Robert Walls received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1997. For almost three decades, he taught courses in Indigenous Studies at Lafayette College, the University of South Carolina and, most recently, the University of Notre Dame. His research and consulting focus on the ethnohistory of Indigenous people of western North America, particularly Coast Salish and settler-colonial relationships in the Pacific Northwest. His publications include three books as well as articles, notes, and reviews for academic journals in the fields of anthropology, folklore, and history.
His most recent work addresses the use of alphabetic literacy and print culture by early Indigenous authors and communities, and how this writing served as both a crucial weapon against dispossession and a tool for the prevention of cultural loss. His archival recovery of early Native writings resulted in the return of some copies to descendant communities, and in the publication of his most recent book, Resilience Through Writing: A Bibliographic Guide to Indigenous-Authored Publications in the Pacific Northwest before 1960. Memoir Series, No. 20. Journal of Northwest Anthropology, 2021.
He is currently completing research on a forthcoming book, The New Canoe: Early Native Writing in Salish Country and Beyond, which will be a study of Indigenous literacies and post-contact writing in northwestern North America. The volume will focus on the relationship of early Native writing to treaties, culture, place, and the forces of assimilation, and how such practices of inscription enhanced the resilience of Native societies.