Ryan E. Emanuel, “Water in the Lumbee World: Indigenous Rights and the Transformation of Home” | National Humanities Center


Ryan E. Emanuel, “Water in the Lumbee World: Indigenous Rights and the Transformation of Home”

May 25, 2021

Though debates about water usage and environmental justice are often conducted in the future tense—with one eye trained on impending catastrophes—the causes are usually rooted in past injustices. For this reason, attempts to understand and avert these crises necessarily involve attending to the voices of those who have suffered them in the past—including the indigenous people of North Carolina.

In this podcast, Ryan E. Emanuel, professor of forestry and environmental resources at North Carolina State University, discusses how members of the Lumbee tribe can provide important insights into both the conservation and protection of the river that bears their name. By attending to their centuries-long and location-specific knowledge of this region, he suggests, we can develop a better understanding of how best to allocate the valuable water resources found in this part of the state.

Environmental Studies; Water; Indigenous Americans; Indigenous American History; Lumbee; Environmental Justice
Ryan E. Emanuel, North Carolina State University
Ryan E. Emanuel is a professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, where he is also an Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor and University Faculty Scholar. Emanuel is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist who was trained to study water and ecosystems in an era of rapid global change. His research has broadened to incorporate human dimensions of the environment, including historical and present-day connections between Indigenous peoples and their territories in and around North Carolina. Emanuel’s current project merges western scholarship in environmental science, public policy, and history with Indigenous knowledges to tell the stories of water in the Lumbee world. Emanuel is a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe. He works closely with Native American communities and institutions on research and outreach related to environmental justice, Indigenous rights, and broadening participation of Native Americans in higher education.