You Can’t Have Publicly Engaged Research Without Scholarship

Rosalyn LaPier

Professor, History

Addressing a Societal Problem to Contribute to the Public Good

LaPier is an ethnobotanist who works within Indigenous communities to revitalize traditional ecological knowledge, to address the climate crisis and environmental justice, and to strengthen public policy for Indigenous languages. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis. Throughout her career, LaPier has always had a desire to translate her research for community understanding. She has published two books along with many peer-reviewed journal articles in esteemed journals, such as the Journal of Environmental History. During the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, she wrote several articles for The Washington Post and other publications about Standing Rock and sacred sites, more generally. She said, “To understand Standing Rock, you need to understand Native American Religion.”.

LaPier has received numerous grants to support her research. Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities allowed her to invite scholars to the reservation to share their scholarship with the community, creating an annual history conference.

Mutually Beneficial Exchange of Knowledge and Resources

Because of her expertise and her ability to write for and speak well to general audiences, LaPier is contacted by museums and media. Most recently, she is featured in the latest Ken Burns documentary, “The American Buffalo,” which will air on PBS-TV in October. LaPier finds working with museums has given her greater skills in speaking to various audiences. Through her experience with museums, she was able to qualitatively assess how many people see exhibits she has been involved in. She found that museums were able to introduce audiences to various new concepts, providing ways for her research to reach an audience that may not specifically have set out to learn about Native American history.

Collaboration with Communities or Organizations

LaPier partners with knowledge keepers and museums in her work. Along with members from the Blackfeet community, she developed a lexicon of over 800 words with other materials for the National Museum of Natural History.


The impact of LaPier’s work reaches around the globe. Her articles have been translated into numerous languages and redistributed in Europe, Central and South America, the U.S. and Australia.LaPier has published two books that have received international awards. She is currently working on a third book. She has received funding from multiple federal funders, including the National Science Foundation.



Tan is the author of several peer-reviewed publications and has presented at national conferences on his research. As an example of his reciprocal partnerships with school districts and agencies, he has co-authored two publications with school district personnel as the lead authors (Rummel et al., 2021; Lenstra et al., 2022). Tan has received funding from state agencies, such as the Illinois State Board of Education and foundations, such as the Spencer Foundation to support his research.


LaPier has published dozens of articles in international newspapers and related media. Her work has been translated into Spanish, French, Russian, and other languages. Further, LaPier has worked on exhibits that have been featured in several museums. For example, at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indiana, LaPier is featured in three exhibits, including a video of her talking about Native American history.

Additional Resources

To learn more about Dr. LaPier’s publicly engaged research, visit the links below.