Illinois State Museum to host Native American Sovereignty Series


First panel discussion, “The Legacies of Removal” is January 19.

Release Date: 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

ISM Location: 

For Immediate Release:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Museum (ISM) will host four virtual-panel discussions as part of its “Understanding Native American Sovereignty Series” beginning January 19, 2023.

The series aims to provide education and awareness about Native American sovereignty. Participants will learn more about Indian Country and why Illinois has challenges working with Federally Recognized Tribal Nations.

ISM Director of Tribal Relations Heather Miller, an enrolled citizen of the Wyandotte Nation, will moderate each panel, bringing thought leaders together so the public can become familiar with the history of Indian removal, federal and state Indian law in the 21st century, Landback movements, and food and cultural autonomy.

“Recently, there has been an increased desire to learn more about engagement with Tribal communities who have geographical and cultural ties to the state of Illinois,” Miller said. “As the state develops better relationships with Tribal Nations, the public will benefit from learning more about these critical issues from leaders from various Tribal Nations with history in Illinois.”

The first virtual panel, “The Legacies of Removal,” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. Panelists will explore the history of the systematic removal of Tribal communities from Illinois through violence, politics, and racism and provide insight into contemporary examples of how it continues to affect Tribal Nations today. In addition, attendees will gain an overview of the importance of sovereignty and how it is expressed in contemporary contexts.

Panelists include:

  • Mary Smith is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. Smith is president-elect of the American Bar Association, former CEO of the Indian Health Service, and chair and CEO of the Caroline and Ora Smith Foundation.
  • Chief Glenna J. Wallace is an enrolled Eastern Shawnee Nation member and the first female chief in the Tribe’s modern history.
  • Nasba Hill is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation with heritage from the Oneida Nation. Currently, a third-year doctoral student, Hill serves as a Tribal subject matter expert for the Tribal Child Care Capacity Building Center.

The virtual panel is free and open to the public. Register in advance at

About the Illinois State Museum

Established in 1877, the Illinois State Museum is a dynamic institution that inspires the exploration of Illinois' past and present to inform and enrich everyday life and promote stewardship of cultural and natural resources. Headquartered in Springfield with branch facilities in Lewistown and Lockport, ISM is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a proud member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

Contact Person: 

Jamila Wicks

Contact Email:

Contact Phone: 

Images of Panel Members