Press Release

Nick Estes receives the 2023 Arlt Award in the Humanities

Kelley KarnesIssued: 12-07-23

CGS Contact: Kelley Karnes
602-791-8278 /
PDF Version of Press Release

Washington, DC – Today the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) presented the Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities to Nick Estes, Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at University of Minnesota during an award ceremony held at the CGS 63rd Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

The Arlt Award recognizes a young scholar-teacher who has written a book deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to scholarship in the humanities. Estes becomes the award’s 53rd recipient for his book, Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (New York: Verso, 2019). He received his PhD in Indigenous Oral Histories and Colonialism from the University of New Mexico in 2017.

Our History has won two national book awards: the 2020 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, PEN America and the 2020 One Book One Tribe Book Award from the First Nations Development Institute. Our History covers the indigenous-led movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and provides historical context for this movement in the long battle for water and land rights for the Oceti Sakowin ‘nation,’ also known as the Great Sioux Nation. In doing so, he also brings to light the internal struggles within the Oceti Sakowin and their campaigns of water protection, which shaped future movements of resistance and struggles for indigenous rights.

CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega said Estes’ work makes an important contribution to American Indian scholarship and to the study of history and religious studies more broadly.

“We are proud to honor Nick Estes for his transformative scholarship in the humanities,” said Ortega. “This award is about supporting new voices, new leaders and celebrating early accomplishments, and I look forward to seeing all that Dr. Estes will accomplish as he continues his academic journey.”

“We are immensely proud to celebrate the outstanding achievement of Dr. Estes, whose groundbreaking book underscores the critical importance of amplifying diverse voices in addressing complex societal issues,” said Scott Lanyon, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education at the University of Minnesota. “This award not only recognizes Dr. Estes’ exceptional scholarship but also reaffirms the University’s commitment to fostering research that has a meaningful impact on the world.”

Created in 1971, the Arlt Award honors the first president of CGS, Gustave O. Arlt. The winner must have earned a doctorate within the past seven years, and currently be teaching at a North American university. Nominations are made by CGS member institutions and are reviewed by a panel of scholars in the field of competition, which rotates annually among seven disciplines within the humanities. This year’s field was religious studies. The winner receives a $1,000 honorarium and travel to the awards ceremony.

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 About CGS

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.