Purdue University Graduate School

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Weaving Centers of Resistance:Towards an Indigenized Writing Center Praxis

posted on 2023-06-16, 21:02 authored by Isaac Kawika WangIsaac Kawika Wang

The writing centers created to serve predominately white institutions (PWIs) are not designed to meet the needs of Indigenous writers. Despite ostensible moves towards equity and social justice, Indigenous peoples often remained overlooked in writing center studies, partly due to the lack of attention paid to centers in Indigenous-serving institutions. Weaving Centers of Resistance responds to this gap by mapping the writing centers and tutoring centers at Indigenous serving institutions, investigating how tutoring pedagogy for writing is adapted in these contexts, and developing recommendations for culturally relevant writing center pedagogy. The research was conducted in three stages: A survey designed to collect basic demographic information was sent to 33 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs),  35 Native American-serving, Non-Tribal Institutions (NASNTIs), and 13 Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (NHSIs). From participants in the survey, 10 writing and tutoring center practitioners were recruited for two rounds of virtual interviews. Finally, two interview participants were recruited for virtual case study interviews. This dissertation is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter contextualizes this project in Indigenous movements towards rhetorical sovereignty set against composition’s implication in racist ideologies. The second chapter lays out the history of western colonial education, surveys Indigenous topics in writing center studies, and argues for decolonizing the writing center movement towards just pedagogies. The third chapter troubles empirical methodologies within writing center studies and discusses the methodologies and methods used for this study. The fourth chapter offers findings from the survey sent to Indigenous-serving institutions. The fifth chapter introduces the ten writing and tutoring center practitioners interviewed for this study. The sixth chapter reports on themes developed in qualitative coding of interviews. The final chapter synthesizes the findings, discusses limitations, and offers a path forward for writing center practitioners working with Indigenous peoples. A few of the key findings of this project are the prevalence of learning centers in Indigenous-serving institutions, the deeply intersectional challenges faced by Indigenous writers, and the importance of relationship for tutoring in Indigenous contexts. This work attempts to offer practitioners in Native educational contexts better tools to teach writing from Indigenous perspectives and provides scholars across humanities strategies for rethinking resistance to linguistic colonialism.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Harry Denny

Additional Committee Member 2

Bradley Dilger

Additional Committee Member 3

Patricia Sullivan

Additional Committee Member 4

Irwin Weiser

Additional Committee Member 5

Georganne Nordstrom

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