On September 23, Robert A. Williams Jr. visited Elmhurst College to present a lecture, Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization.
A leading expert on Native American law and the rights of indigenous peoples, Williams is a member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe. In his writings, he proposes a wide-ranging reexamination of the Western world’s history, told from the perspective of civilization’s war on tribalism as a way of life.
Williams’s lecture was part of the Rudolf G. Schade Lecture Series on History, Ethics and the Law, and was sponsored in part by BMO Harris Bank.
Named by Indian Country Today as one of its 2011 “Heroes on the Hill” for his human rights advocacy work, Williams has represented tribal groups and members before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the United States Supreme Court (Nevada v. Hicks, 2011 term), while also serving as the chief justice for the Court of Appeals and trial judge pro tem for the Tohono O’odham Nation.
Williams currently teaches law at the University of Arizona. After receiving his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1980, Williams was named the first Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Harvard Law. He is the recipient of the University of Arizona’s Koffler Prize for Outstanding Accomplishments in Public Service, and has received grants and awards from organizations such as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the National Institute of Justice.
In addition to his latest book, Savage Anxieties: The Invention of Western Civilization, Williams is the author of several others, including The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest, which received the Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Center Award in 1990.