Center for Rural Behavior Health’s annual lectureship features keynote speakers

The Center for Rural Behavioral Health’s annual lectureship takes place Thursday in the CSU Ballroom and features keynote speakers Wahinka Topa (Four Arrows) and Darcia Narvaez.

Elizabeth Harstad, Clinical Education Coordinator, said the keynote address is called “Indigenous Worldview and Deep Nestedness: Practices for Wellness.”

“Dr. Darcia Narvaez and Dr. Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows) were invited to campus by the Center for Rural Behavioral Health as the speakers for our annual lectureship. The suggestion for the speakers came from Dr. Susan Herrmann from the Department of Social Work,” Harstad said.

Harstad is tasked with coordinating the campus event and promoting the event to campus and community members.

“Dr. Narvaez and Dr. Wahinkpe Topa’s lecture will focus on healthy human development and wellness-promoting communities. Their lecture will highlight a worldview of compassion and collaboration that has been essential to society and human survival but has been dominated more recently by competitive worldview,” Harstad explained.

Harstad explains the goal of the annual lectureship, “is to bring knowledge about mental health challenges and solutions to our campus and community.”

“The speakers will offer tools for transformative practice that individuals can bring into their personal lives and work,” Harstad continued.

Topa is of Irish and Cherokee ancestry, and says he is a “made-relative” of the Lakota and a member of the Medicine Horse tiospaye.

He’s currently a professor in Fielding Graduate University’s Educational Leadership for Change program, and was previously Director of Education at Oglala Lakota College and a tenured Associate Professor at NAU. 

He has authored 24 books on wellness and Indigenous worldview. His hobbies include paddle board surfing, handball and music, and he was first alternate for the U.S. Equestrian Olympic Endurance Event in1996. 

Narvaez is Professor Emerita of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, Association for Psychological Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Minnesota-born, her earlier careers include professional musician, business owner, classroom music teacher, classroom Spanish teacher and seminarian. 

Her recent book, “Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom” won the 2015 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association and the 2017 Expanded Reason Award.

Write to Biruk Mengesha at

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