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Recentering the Past

NEW Student Research Paper Competition

The UAFS History, Social Sciences, and Philosophy (HSSP) Department is hosting a spring 2023 student research paper competition as part of its “Creating an Actionable Land Acknowledgement” initiative. The competition is funded by the Provost’s Research and Innovation Mini-Grant for 2022-2023.

The general topic for the competition is the past and present of indigenous peoples, including indigenous peoples' contributions to the UAFS campus, Fort Smith, the state of Arkansas, and the world.

Sample Writing Prompts

  • Indigenous peoples/nations who recognize the Fort Smith area as part of their ancestral land
  • Indigenous peoples/nations who have passed through the area during Indian removal as well as those who refused to move
  • The history of the land that the UAFS campus sits on
  • The archive of John Drennen (1802-1855), who served as the Choctaw agent for Indian Territory and acting superintendent of Indian Affairs for the southwestern territory
  • Fort Smith as a site of indigenous history and everyday reality
  • The long-term effects of U.S. treaties and laws targeting indigenous people

Winning papers will be selected by a panel of HSSP faculty.



  • $150 for best paper
  • $100 for honorary mention
  • All students who submit a paper will receive a HSSP travel mug.

Winners will be announced in May 2023



Papers must be submitted by midnight on Monday, April 10, to for full consideration.



  • All UAFS students are eligible to enter.
  • Both research papers (based on primary and/or secondary data) and literature review papers qualify.
  • Students who want to collect primary data for their papers through surveys or interviews need to follow the UAFS IRB procedures. Talk to your course instructor or advisor about this.
  • Papers should be 10-15 pages (roughly 2,500 to 3,750 words)
  • We recommend students to visit with archivist Shelley Blanton at the Pebley Center in the Boreham Library to explore secondary sources that will be a good fit for the topic of this competition.
  • The Boreham Library has a topic guide on “Land Acknowledgement Statements.”
  • Students are encouraged to make appointments with a Writing Center tutor so that the papers are as competitive as possible.