Environmental Studies Faculty

Rosalyn La Pier

Rosalyn La Pier

Associate Professor

Office: Jeannette Rankin Hall 017
Email: rosalyn.lapier@mso.umt.edu
Office Hours:

Fall 2019: Tuesdays & Thursdays 10am to 11am, or by appointment.

Personal Website

Current Position

Permanent Appointment:

  • Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, University of Montana

Research Appointment:

  • Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2015-2018, 2018-2021

Visiting Appointments:

  • Visiting Scholar, East West Center, Honolulu, Hawai'i, 2018-2019
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Women's Studies Program, Harvard Divinity School, 2016-2017

Personal Summary

Botanical Samples

Rosalyn is an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental justice advocate with a BA in physics and a PhD in environmental history. She also works to strengthen traditional knowledge and revitalize Indigenous languages within Indigenous communities. Dr. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis. Hear her story on Spark Science.


  • Ph.D., History, University of Montana
  • B.A., Physics, Colorado College

Research Interests

  • BitterrootBotany, Ethnobotany & Indigenous Knowledge
  • Environmental Justice, Social Movements & Activism


Fellow, "Willow AGEP Alliance," Native American STEM Faculty, University of Montana, Salish Kootenai College, and Sitting Bull College, NSF-APEG-T grant, 2017-2021.

Principal Investigator, "Itapissko: Blackfeet Belief and Botany," National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2018-2021.

Cultural Advisor, "Living Landscapes: Culture, Climate Science and Education on the Flathead Reservation," Salish Kootenai College and the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, NASA’s Innovations in Climate Education – Tribal (NICE-T) grant, 2014-2019.

Selected Publications

BOOKS:Book cover of Invisible Reality

Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet, (University of Nebraska Press, 2017). Selected for “New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series" edited by Margaret Jacobs and Robert Miller, a joint publication, University of Nebraska Press and the American Philosophical Society.  

  • Winner of the 2018 John C. Ewers Book Award, for best book on ethnohistory of North America.
  • Winner of the 2018 Donald Fixico Award, for best book on American Indian and Canadian First Nations History.
  • Review by Theodore Binnema, Winter 2018

City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934Rosalyn LaPier and David R.M. Beck, University of Nebraska Press, 2015. 

  • Winner of the 2016 Robert G. Athearn Book Award, for best book on history of the 20th century American West.

Blackfeet Vocabulary Terms for Items of Material Culture, Lexicon, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2004.



Cover of the book Blackfoot Country

Introduction, Blackfoot Country, by Walter Hildebrandt, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, British Columbia, 2107.

Chapter, "American Indian Moving to Cities,” Why You Can't Teach U.S. History Without American Indians, David R.M. Beck and Rosalyn LaPier, Edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith, Juliana Barr, Jean M. O’Brien, Nancy Shoemaker, and Scott Stevens, University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Journal Article, "‘One Man Relocation Team:’ Scott Henry Peters and American Indian Migration in the 1930's," Rosalyn LaPier and David R.M. Beck, Western Historical Quarterly, Spring 2014.

Journal Article, "Crossroads for a Culture: American Indians in Progressive Era Chicago," Rosalyn LaPier and David R.M. Beck, Chicago History, Spring 2012.

Section Introduction, "Buffalo Jumps," American Indian Places, edited by Frances H. Kennedy, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Chapter, "Métis Life Along Montana's Front Range," Beyond ... The Shadows of the Rockies: History of the Augusta Area, Augusta MT: Augusta Historical Society, 2007.

Journal article, “An Important Gift: Blackfeet Language and History,” with William Farr, Journal of American Indian Education, 45:2, Fall 2006.

Chapter, “Between Hay and Grass: A Brief History of Two Métis Communities is Central Montana,” in William Furdell, ed., Proceedings of the International Conference of Metis History and Culture. Great Falls: University of Great Falls, 1997.

ARTICLES & COMMENTARY (General Audience):

"The Legacy of Colonialism on Public Lands Created Mauna Kea," High Country News, August 6, 2019. (In print version September 2, 2019).

"Her Dream: The Blackfeet Women’s Stand Up Headdress," Montana Naturalist, Fall/Winter 2018/2019.

Guest Column, “Moving Toward Justice: Take Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” Missoulian, January 16, 2019.

Trump’s Reference to Wounded Knee Evokes the Dark History of Suppression of Indigenous Religions,” The Conversation, January 16, 2019.

What Winter Solstice Rituals Tell Us About Indigenous Peoples,” The Conversation, December 13, 2018.

It Might Be Time to Decolonize Our Sweatlodges,” with Souta Calling Last, Native News Online, December 5, 2018.

Interview, "Main Street," Praire Public Radio, North Dakota, November 1, 2018.Bitterroot

"How the Loss of Native American Languages Affects Our Understanding of the Natural World," The Conversation, October 5, 2018.

"Why Native Americans Struggle to Protect Their Sacred Places," The Conversation, August 1, 2018.

Interview, “Indigenous People’s Religion is Forced to Adapt,” Top of Mind with Julie Rose, BYU Radio, July 2, 2018. 

"How Native American Food is Tied to Important Sacred Stories," The Conversation, June 15, 2018. (Also in Yes! Magazine.)

Interview, Ethnobotanist - Dr. Rosalyn LaPier, Spark Science Podcast, April 15, 2018.

Interview, "Five Questions for Rosalyn LaPier about Native Americans in Science," UnDark, March 9, 2018.

Public Service Announcement, Women's History Month: Rosalyn LaPier, Olivia Hallisey and Rumman Chowdhury, #SeeHer Campaign, CBS Corporation, March 2, 2018.

"For Native Americans, A River is More Than a 'Person,' It is Also a Sacred Place," The Conversation, October 8, 2017.

Why is Water Sacred to Native Americans?Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place & Community, No. 8, Fall 2017. 

"Will Global Warming Change Native Americans Religious Practices," The Conversation, July 6, 2017. (High Country News & Indian Country Media).

"Montana Mussels: Mythology and Ecology," Montana MusselMontana Naturalist, Spring/Summer 2017.

"Why Native Americans do not Separate Religison from Science," The Conversation, April 20, 2017. (Indianz.com & Lee Newspapers).

Interview, From Standing Rock to the March For Science with Rosalyn LaPierWild Lens: Podcast, April 19, 2017.

Interview, March for Science: Interview with Rosalyn LaPierHarvard Political Review, April 6, 2017.

"What makes a mountain, hill or prairie a ‘sacred’ place for Native Americans?The Conversation, February 16, 2017. (Reprinted in Lee Newspapers).

"How Standing Rock Became a Site of Pilgrimage," The Conversation, December 6,  2016. (Reprinted in Univision, December 9, 2016 as "Como el Standing Rock se Convirtio en un Lugar de Peregrinacion").

"Why Understanding Native American Religion is Important for Resolving the Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis," The Conversation, November 2,  2016. (Reprinted in the Washington Post, November 4, 2016).

"Smudging: Plants, Purification and Prayer," Montana Naturalist, Spring/Summer 2016.

"What's in a Name?," Montana Naturalist, Spring/Summer 2015.

"Silent, Sacred and Wild," Crown of the Continent Magazine, Spring 2015.

"Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Adapt to Climate Change," Environmental Justice in Action, July 1, 2014.

Interview, The Truth About Trees: A Natural and Human History, Film Series and Community Story Project, Spring 2014.

Guest Opinion Column, "Thoughts on What Makes A Place Holy," Great Falls Tribune, October 24, 2013.

"Montana's Metis People," Montana Naturalist, Winter 2013/2014.

"From the Natural to the Supernatural: Discovering the Piegan People's World View," Montana Naturalist, Winter 2009/2010.

On-line curriculum, “Relationship with the Land – Seasonal Round,” Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Spring 2006

Blackfeet Botanist: Annie Mad Plume Wall,” Montana Naturalist, Fall 2005.


  • George M. Dennison Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Accomplishment, University of Montana, 2018

Brief Bio

I am an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental justice advocate with a BA in physics and a PhD in environmental history. I also work to strengthen traditional knowledge and revitalize Indigenous languages withinin Indigenous communities. Hear my story on Spark Science.

AIG Dept/College

College of Humanities and Sciences, Environmental Studies

Teaching Experience

Environmental Science (ENSC)

  • ENSC 594 Environment, Health and Native Americans
  • ENSC 590 Native Plant Stewardship & Ethnobotany (Supervised Internship/Practicum)
  • ENSC 396 Native Plant Stewardship & Ethnobotany (Supervised Internship/Practicum)

Environmental Studies (ENST)

  • ENST 510 Environmental Issues of Native American Communities
  • ENST 410 Traditional Environmental Knowledge of Native Americans
  • ENST 310 Environment Montana: From Anaconda to Zortman
  • ENST 201 Environmental Information Resources

Rosalyn is in her 18th year of teaching, including: 7 years with UM's Environmental Studies, 2 years with UM's Native American Studies and 8 years with NAES College (a Native-controlled institution). She also served as a visiting professor at the Harvard Divinity School and the East-West Center in Hawai'i. 

Professional Experience

Rosalyn's career has been devoted to creating positive change within Native American communities, she currently works with:

Red Thunder

International Experience

Rosalyn has been an invited guest and speaker in numerous Indigenous communities in North and South America, including Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezula and Bolivia.


Rosalyn is one of four Native American professors nationally at a research university in an Environmental Studies or Sciences department. She is the first and only enrolled Blackfeet tribal member to recieve tenure at the University of Montana.