by Leah Jackson
Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory and Dr. Rebecca Riall, professors in Northwestern State University’s School of Social Sciences and Applied Programs, were honored with faculty awards presented by the University of Louisiana System during the ULS’s fifth annual For Our Future conference.
Gregory was named a Champion of Diversity and Inclusion for decades of work in supporting indigenous people of Louisiana and surrounding states, through education, interpretation and preservation.
Riall was named the Rising Star in Diversity and Inclusion for her work in creating the American and Indigenous studies, Black studies and Creole Studies programs at NSU.
“Dr. Gregory talked about cultural competency before the term was invented,” said ULS President Dr. Jim Henderson.
Gregory has been on faculty at Northwestern State since 1961 and is the longest-serving employee in NSU’s history. He has taught thousands of Northwestern students who have gone on to be anthropologists, archeologists, nurses, teachers, businesspeople, professionals and university presidents. He is the academic advisor for the Louisiana Creole Heritage Center, the Louisiana Folklife Festival and the Folklife Center at Northwestern. In 2019, Gregory received the Lifetime Contribution to the Humanities Award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In 2018, the Creole Heritage Center presented Gregory with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development recognized him as Louisiana’s Archaeologist of the Year.
Riall is an anthropologist and licensed attorney who coordinates the pre-law and paralegal studies program at NSU. Her research interests include legal anthropology, the anthropology of race, race and the law, federal Indian law, U.S. Constitutional law and tribal law. She co-founded the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center at Indiana University Bloomington. She is a former indigent defender and built the first law practice in Zwolle focusing on criminal defense and family law for about 10 years before joining the faculty at NSU. She lives in Zwolle and has close ties to the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb. She is currently the acting coordinator of Black Studies and American Indian & Indigenous Studies at NSU.
The fifth annual ULS For Our Future Conference was hosted in Natchitoches and attended by about 500 faculty and staff from the nine institutions that make up the University of Louisiana System, including Northwestern State, Grambling, Louisiana Tech, McNeese, Nicholls, Southeastern, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe and the University of New Orleans.
Gregory and Riall were selected for the awards from a pool of nearly 10,000 faculty and staff.
Information on NSU’s School of Social Sciences and Applied Programs is available at https://cjhss.nsula.edu/.