Event—Public Programming

The Year the Stars Fell: Toward a Continental History of a Very Few Hours


In this year’s D’Arcy McNickle Distinguished Lecture, historian Philip Deloria will discuss how the falling stars called into question assumptions about faith, reason, and nature.

Watercolor and pencil drawing attributed to Lakota and Dakota Natives during the winter of 1913-1914. Call number: VAULT oversize Ayer Art Sioux Indian

This program will be held in-person at the Newberry and livestreamed on Zoom.

In the early morning of November 13, 1833, meteors from the annual Leonid showers fell in such abundance, frequency, and size that people across North America ran from their homes to contemplate the celestial light show. In the winter count calendars of the Great Plains, the “Year the Stars Fell” has been used to link up disparate local histories. But the event appears in memory and in writing all across the continent, from enslaved African Americans in the South to Latter Day Saints and Second Great Awakening revivalists in small towns, to the scientists of Philadelphia, Cambridge, and New Haven, among others.

In this year’s D’Arcy McNickle Distinguished Lecture, historian Philip Deloria will discuss how the falling stars called into question assumptions about faith, reason, and nature. Making connections across time and place, Deloria will also explore how these stars can help us understand an unknowably broad geography in the narrowest of historical moments.


5 pm Reception

6 pm Introductions

  • Daniel Greene
  • Dorene Wiese
  • Drum performance
  • Rose Miron

6:30 pm Lecture by Phil Deloria

7 pm Q&A

7:15 pm Closing Toast and Remarks

  • Fred Hoxie
  • Rose Miron


Phil Deloria is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and Professor of History at Harvard University, where his research and teaching focus on the social, cultural, and political histories of the relations among American Indian peoples and the United States, as well as the comparative and connective histories of Indigenous peoples in a global context. Dr. Deloria is the author of many books and articles, including Playing Indian and Indians in Unexpected Places, both of which are widely recognized as essential texts in the fields of Native American and Indigenous Studies, and American Studies. Deloria is also a trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and serves at the liaison for Harvard University within the Newberry Consortium in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Fred Hoxie is an esteemed historian of Indigenous peoples in North America and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Dr. Hoxie was on staff at the Newberry for fifteen years, where he served first as the Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center and later as Vice President for Research and Education. Hoxie is the author of many books and articles related to Indigenous history and has also served as a consultant and expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Park Service.

Dorene Wiese is a citizen of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation and CEO of the American Indian Association of Illinois. Dr. Wiese’s relationship with the Newberry spans nearly fifty years and includes serving as the co-chair of the Newberry American Indian Oral History Project (1982-1985) and the Seeing Indian in Chicago Photography Exhibition (1985). Wiese also serves on the Advisory Group for the library’s current Indigenous Chicago project, which will debut in 2024.

Cost and Registration

This program is free and open to all.

Register to attend IN PERSON.

Register to attend virtually ON ZOOM.

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