Professor Kimberly Schmidt, former director of Eastern Mennonite University's Washington Community Scholars' Center, brings years of scholarly research and interaction with the Cheyenne culture and history to the 2022 Keim Lecture. She speaks Monday, March 21, at Eastern Mennonite University. Right: Robert Sandhill andhis family, a Cheyenne Mission Souvenir, courtesy of the Mennonite Library and Archives.

Keim Lecture to focus on Cheyenne, Mennonite history and intersections

Professor Kimberly D. Schmidt is the 2022 speaker for the Albert N. Keim Lecture Series, sponsored by Eastern Mennonite University’s history and political science programs. She speaks Monday, March 21, at 5 p.m. in Swartzendruber Hall, Room 106, in the Suter Science Center. A light reception precedes the event at 4:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Masks are optional. The event will be livestreamed on EMU’s Facebook Live page.

Schmidt’s topic is “Marketing Mennonites, Posing Cheyennes: Photography, Gender, and Indigenous Agency on the Mission Field (1880-1920).” She will share an extensive collection of stunning photographs taken of Cheyenne people by Mennonite missionaries. The collection reveals troubling intersectionalities of gender constructions, forced acculturation, religion, and U.S. policy on the Cheyenne Mennonite missions at the turn of the twentieth century.

Schmidt is the former director of EMU’s Washington Community Scholars’ Center, a position she held for 23 years. She continues to serve EMU as an affiliate professor of gender history. Schmidt earned a PhD in American history from Binghamton University in 1995.

Schmidt’s novel Magpie’s Blanket (New Mexico State University Press, 2016) was a Women Writing the West WILLA Literary Awards Finalist, historical fiction category. She has also published Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003).

Walks at Dawn Speaks, a second work of historical fiction, centers on Monahsetah, also known as Meotzi, a young woman claimed by both the Southern and Northern Cheyenne nations. Monahsetah became Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custers’ mistress, guide, peace envoy and cultural bridge builder during the Plains Indian Wars. Southern Cheyenne cultural interpreters are currently reviewing the manuscript. 

Schmidt’s fourth book project focuses on Bertha Kinsinger Petter, a Mennonite missionary to both Southern and Northern Cheyennes from 1896-1963, and how Mennonite constructions of gender and women’s work on the mission supported U.S. government assimilationist and cultural annihilation policies. 

She is preparing to lead A Women’s West: Exploring Native American Women’s History and Culture, a three-week EMU intercultural tour of the American Southwest, this summer. 

More on the Keim Lecture Series

The Albert N. Keim Lecture Series honors the memory of Professor Albert N. Keim who served as a history professor here for 35 years and was the academic dean from 1977 to 1984.

Learn more about past presenters, in this sampling:

2021:  Historian, author, and investigative reporter Rick Shenkman, founder of History News Network, spoke on “Why is Democracy so @#$&! Hard?” 

2020: Professor Ernesto Verdeja, of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at University of Notre Dame, was the speaker. 

2019: Federal public defender, immigrant rights attorney and playwright Kara Hartzler ’94 spoke on “Borders, Jails, and Long Drives in the Desert: 25 Years of Immigration Law in the Southwest.”

2017: Dongping Han, professor at Warren-Wilson College and a native of rural China, addressed “The Cultural Revolution: A Reinterpretation from Today’s China.”

2016: Artist/activist Mark Strandquist provided a lecture titled Performing Statistics: Connecting incarcerated youth, artists, and leading policy experts to challenge Virginia’s juvenile justice system.”

2015: Charles R. Epp, political scientist in the University of Kansas’s School of Public Affairs and Administration, presented “The Police and Racial Discrimination in America.”

2014: Vincent Harding, a pastor, activist and history professor who helped EMC professors initiate social change in Harrisonburg during the early 1960s, presented “Is America Possible?”