Environmental Studies Faculty

Rosalyn La Pier

Rosalyn La Pier

Associate Professor

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

No office hours, until Fall 2017.

Personal Website

Current Position

Academic Year 2016/2017, Rosalyn is a visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, Environmental Studies and Native American Religion, and Colorado Scholar in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School at Harvard University.

  • Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, University of Montana
  • Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Personal Summary

Rosalyn is an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist, and environmental historian. In her writing and public speaking she blends traditional ecological knowledge learned from elders with academic research. Her third book project "Plants That Purify: The Natural and Supernatural History of Smudging," explores Blackfeet concepts of purity, purification and traditional ecological knowledge. 


  • Ph.D., History, University of MontanaBotanical Samples
  • M.A., Liberal Studies (Religious Studies), DePaul University
  • Graduate Certificate, Public Policy, DePaul University
  • B.A., Physics, Colorado College


Research Interests

  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge (Ethnobotany)
  • Environmental History
  • Native American Languages


Principal Investigator, "Itapissko: Blackfeet Belief and Botany," National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2015-2018.

Collaborator, "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, 2014-2017.

Selected Publications


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

Commentary, "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").

Commentary, "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 and Newsweek,  November 6, 2016).

Featured or Interviewed in Media:

"The Dakota Access Pipeline Isn't Just About the Environment. It is About Religion," Washington Post, December 5, 2016, in story.

"Would You Tear Up St. Peter's in Rome? Voices From the Dakota Pipeline Protest," Interfaith Voices Radio, November 25, 2016, featured guest.

"Saving the Sacred: Standing Rock Sioux Began Protest to Fight for Respect of Culture, Water," Williston Herald, November 11, 2016, interviewed.


Carol DodgeBook, "Invisible Reality: Storytellers, Storytakers and the Supernatural World of the Blackfeet," (University of Nebraska Press, expected Summer/Fall 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.

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

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

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

Article, "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

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

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

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

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.

Internet, “Relationship with the Land – Seasonal Round,” Niitsitapiisinni: Our Way of Life, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, www.glenbow.org/blackfoot/teacher_toolkit/pdf/Land_SeasonalRound.pdf, Spring 2006

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

Lexicon, Blackfeet Vocabulary Terms for Items of Material Culture, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2005.


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


Book, City Indian: Native American Activism in Chicago, 1893-1934, Rosalyn 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.

Book 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.



"People Before the Park: The Kootenai and Blackfeet Before Glacier National Park," by Sally Thompson, Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Summer, 2016.

"Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History," edited by Nicole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny and Brenda Macdougall, Journal of American Ethnic History, Spring 2015.

"Amskapi Pikuni," by Alice Kehoe and Clark Wissler, Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Autumn, 2013.

"Huanduj. Brugmansia," by Alistair Hay, Monika Gottschalk, and Adolfo Holguin, Economic Botany. June 2013.

"Blackfoot Redemption: A Blood Indians Story of Murder, Confinement, and Imperfect Justice," by William Farr, Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Summer 2013.

"California Indian Languages," by Victor Golla, California History, September 2012.


  • Research Associate and Visting Assistant Professor, Women's Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School, 2016-2017
  • Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2015-2018
  • Service Award, Montana Historical Society, 2015
  • University Research Grant, University of Montana, 2014-2015
  • Faculty Professional Enhancement Grant, University of Montana, 2014
  • Humanities Montana Grant, 2014
  • Travel Award, National Science Foundation, STEM Women of Color Conclave, Spring 2012 & Spring 2014
  • Professional Fellow, U.S. Department of State, Economic Empowerment Program for Southeast Asia, Spring 2014
  • International Research Grant, International Studies, University of Montana, Summer 2013

Teaching Experience

Faculty Advisor, Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Native Peoples Focus Area

  • ENST 510 Environmental Issues of Native Americans (Spring)
  • ENST 410 Traditional Environmental Knowledge of Native Americans (Spring, even years)
  • ENST 310 Environment Montana: From Anaconda to Zortman (Spring, odd years)
  • ENST 396/590 Supervised Internship - Native Plant Stewardship & Ethnobotany (Fall & Spring)
  • ENST 201 Environmental Information Resources (Fall)

Professional Experience

Rosalyn's career has been devoted to positive community development.

Red Thunder

  • She worked with Piegan Institute and the late Darrell Robes Kipp (Apiniokio Peta) from 1999 to 2013, during that time she raised $4,000,000.00 for Piegan Institute programs.
  • She is the founder of Saokio Heritage, a community based organization, that works to revitalize traditional ecological knowledge and ethnobotany.
  • She is a founding member of the National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs.

International Experience

Rosalyn has been an invited guest and speaker on ethnobotany and indigenous languages in 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 Blackfeet tribal member with a tenure track position at the University of Montana.