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News Release: Indigenous hip-hop is focus of Leon Jett Memorial Lecture at Eiteljorg

Author Dr. Kyle T. Mays will discuss hip-hop music by Native artists and Afro-Indigenous identity

Kyle T. Mays, Ph.D.

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS – The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art will host a fascinating discussion about hip-hop music by Native artists and the Afro-Indigenous identity during its annual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture. The guest lecturer is Kyle T. Mays (Saginaw / Chippewa), Ph.D., author of Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America. Dr. Mays will speak at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Eiteljorg. Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for museum members.

A scholar who has authored three books on Indigenous hip-hop, Afro-Indigenous history and Afro-Indigenous urban life, Dr. Mays is associate professor of African American studies, American Indian studies and History at UCLA. The lecture will include a deep dive into the vibrant culture of Indigenous hip-hop music. Following the lecture, the public can meet Dr. Mays at a book-signing.

One of the Eiteljorg’s most anticipated events each year, the Leon Jett Memorial Lecture provides the community an outstanding opportunity to learn from leading multicultural scholars, especially relating to African American history,” said Alisa Nordholt-Dean, vice president for public programs and Beeler family director of education at the museum. “Dr. Kyle T. Mays has done important research on Indigenous hip-hop music, and all are invited to attend and enjoy this compelling and nuanced presentation.”

The Eiteljorg’s annual Leon Jett Memorial Lecture is named after the late Leon Jett, the museum’s former manager of public programs from 1999 to 2007, who was dedicated to advancing the representation of African Americans in the West through excellent multicultural museum programming. The Eiteljorg began the lecture series to continue his mission.

Tickets to the Feb. 16 lecture are sold via Eventbrite, but walk-ins are welcome. The lecture takes place in the Eiteljorg’s newly expanded Allen Whitehill Clowes Sculpture Court, where adult beverages and light hors d’oeuvres will be available; each attendee will receive one free drink ticket. The Eiteljorg thanks the event sponsors, Buckingham Foundation, Raymond James and one anonymous donor.

In conjunction with the Leon Jett Memorial Lecture, a generous donor made it possible for the Eiteljorg to present an exhibit in observance of Black History Month. Nine panels presenting some of the experiences and complex interactions of peoples who share African and Native American ancestry will be featured in Eagle Commons, the museum’s spacious hallway on the first floor. These stories have too often been invisible to the public. Including images from a past Eiteljorg exhibit from 2011, Red/Black: Related Through History, the museum will highlight both connections and challenges.

About the Eiteljorg
A cultural pillar for more than 33 years in downtown Indianapolis’ scenic White River State Park, the Eiteljorg Museum seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the arts, histories and cultures of the Native peoples of North America and of the American West by telling amazing stories. Located on the Central Canal at 500 West Washington St., the Eiteljorg is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

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