Environmental Studies Faculty

Rosalyn La Pier

Rosalyn La Pier

Associate Professor

Office: Jeannette Rankin Hall 104
Email: rosalyn.lapier@umt.edu
Office Hours:

No office hours until we return from Winter Break on January 18th.

Personal Website

Current Position

Permanent Appointment: 

Research Appointment:

  • Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, 2021-2024

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

Freezeout Lake

Rosalyn is an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental activist with a BA in physics and a PhD in environmental history. She works to revitalize Indigenous & traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), to address environmental justice & the climate crisis within Indigenous communities, and to strengthen public policy for Indigenous languages. Dr. LaPier is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis. Hear her story on SACNAS Interviews STEM Role Model.


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

Research Interests

  • BitterrootEthnobotany, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
  • Environmental Justice, Climate Change, Social Movements & Activism


Research Team, "Native American Intellectual Leadership: Native American Languages," Henry Luce Foundation grant, 2019-2020.

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

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).

  • 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 Christopher Vecsey, The American Historical Review, Volume 123, Issue 5, December 2018.
  • Interview/Podcast on New Books Network, March 2019.

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 Names of Plants Used by the Blackfeet, Lexicon, Saokio Heritage, 2020.

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



American Bison Cover art

Introduction, The American Bison: The Buffalo's Survival Talewritten & illustrated by Andy Hirsch, First Second Books, New York, 2021. 

Introduction, Blackfoot Country, by Walter Hildebrandt, Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, British Columbia, 2017.

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):

"Mountaintop Removal Threatens Tradiional Blackfoot Territory," High Country News, February 1, 2021. 

"Solstice,” Academic Minute, December 21, 2020.

Interview, "STEMTalks: Questions for an Ethnobotanist!" American Association for the Advancement of Science, November 25, 2020.

"Ma’s, Montana’s Original Plant-Based Food," Montana Naturalist, Fall/Winter 2020.

"We're all on Indigenous land," Missoula Current, August 21, 2020.

InterviewSACNAS Interviews STEM Role Model, Society Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science, June 2020.

Misrepresenting traditional knowledge during COVID-19 is dangerous,” with Abaki Beck, High Country News, March 23, 2020.

How a Native American coming-of-age ritual is making a comeback,” The Conversation, February 10, 2020.

"The Legacy of Colonialism on Public Lands Created Mauna Kea," High Country News, August 6, 2019. (In print version September 2, 2019). Honorable Mention for Best Editorial, Print/Online, Professional Division III, 2020, from the Native American Journalist Association

Interview, Invisible Reality on New Books Network, with Stephen Hausmann, May 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," Prairie 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
  • Featured Alumni, "Native Knowledge," Montanan Magazine, Spring 2018.

Home Department

Rosalyn at Freezout LakeEnvironmental Studies Program

Area of Expertise

Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Ethnobotany, Environmental Justice, Social Movements & Activism.

Brief Bio

I am an award winning Indigenous writer, ethnobotanist and environmental activist with a BA in physics and a PhD in environmental history. I work to revitalize Indigenous & traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), to address environmental justice & the climate crisis within Indigenous communities, and to strengthen public policy for Indigenous languages. Hear my story on SACNAS Interviews STEM Role Model.

Teaching Experience

Environmental Science (ENSC)

  • ENSC 508  Environmental Health & Indigenous People
  • 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 Indigenous Communities
  • ENST 410 Traditional Environmental Knowledge of Indigenous People
  • ENST 310 Environment Montana: From Anaconda to Zortman
  • ENST 201 Environmental Information Resources


Rosalyn is in her 20th year of teaching, including: 10 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 works to create 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.


  • National Advisory Committee, Smithsonian Folklife Festival: Creative Encounters: Living Religions in America, 2023, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

  • Series Editor, Borderlands and Transcultural Studies, University of Nebraska Press

  • Enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana & Métis (Red River/Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

Rosalyn is one of eight Indigenous professors nationally in an Environmental Studies/Sciences/Sustainability department. She is the first & only enrolled Blackfeet tribal member to be in a tenure-track position & to recieve tenure at the University of Montana.