Trainee Update: JoRee LaFrance

Nov. 12, 2020

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This picture was taken at the University of Chicago where JoRee LaFrance paraded on a horse in her elk tooth dress and Apsáalooke style horse gear.

JoRee LaFrance is a Doctoral Trainee mentored by Dr. Jon Chorover and Dr. Karletta Chief in the Department of Environmental Science. She comes to us from the Apsáalooke (Crow) Tribe in south-central Montana.

Her research at the University of Arizona seeks to characterize and partition major sources of contaminants to understand the effects on the contaminant concentration-discharge (loadings) relationship of the Little Bighorn River and Apsáalooke (Crow) tribal water use. This research builds on methods of addressing organic, pesticide and nutrient contamination from previous inorganic research loadings in the Little Bighorn River watershed. The aim is to fundamentally understand the loadings and how metal(loid)s, pesticides, and nutrients released from agricultural fields affect the river system.

“Resolving the impacts of hydrologic controls over contaminant concentrations and speciation in the Little Bighorn River watershed is important in understanding exposure pathways and risks to Apsáalooke people,” said LaFrance.

Despite all the 2020’s challenges, JoRee LaFrance has had an incredible active and productive year! JoRee LaFrance received 3 fellowships:

  • Carson Scholarship (2020) awarded by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice at University of Arizona.
  • Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls SOAR Fellowship (2020) awarded by the Aspen Institute, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Global Innovators Group. This Fellowship allowed LaFrance to work on developing her own organization to continue working to advance women and girls in her community.
  • CLIMAS Environment and Society Fellowship (2020) awarded by Climate Assessment for the Southwest at University of Arizona. These funds allowed LaFrance to produce a video about her research.

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LaFrance sampling when she returned home in June, 2020.

LaFrance had the opportunity to present her research at:

  • LaFrance, J.V. (2020) Bimmaaxpée: Bridging Traditional Understandings and Hydrologic Science to Protect the Little Bighorn River. Presentation given in the Intersections of Environment and Justice: From Our Bodies to the Earth webinar series sponsored by the Carson Scholars Program.
  • Naranjo, P. and LaFrance, J.V. (2020) Indigenous Co-Innovation At the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water System: Tribal College and University Partnerships in Co-InFEWS Virtual Workshop Panel. Co-moderated a panel with scientists from tribal colleges and universities sponsored by the University of Arizona and University of California - Berkeley.
  • Charles, M., Weahkee, A., and LaFrance, J.V. (2020) Region 10 Tribal Environmental Leaders Youth Track. Spoke on a panel with Indigenous youth activists sponsored by the Region 10 Tribal Environmental Leaders group.
  • Sanganoo, S., Ramirez, G., Govreau, C., Arias, D., Ibarra, L., Warton, A., LaFrance, J.V. (2020) Arts + Activism Panel for Youth. Spoke on a panel with artists and activisms sponsored by No Longer empty and Youth vs Apocalypse.
  • LaFrance, J.V. (2020) Contaminant Behavior in the Indige-FEWSS Nexus Addressing the Concentration-Discharge Relationship in the Little Bighorn River Watershed, Crow Reservation, Montana. Presented video at the 2020 University of Arizona ENViSion Symposium, online.

JoRee LaFrance was awarded the Building Tribal-University and Indigenous Community-University Partnerships Grant from the Center for Indigenous Environmental Health and a supplemental grant from the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center.

She was a curatorial consultant for the Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit that opened in March 2020 at the Field Museum in Chicago, and additionally, she published two articles in the written catalog that accompanies the exhibit:

  • Apsáalooke Women and Warriors Exhibit at the Field Museum: LaFrance was a part of a collective group of Apsáalooke people who worked as curatorial consultants for the Apsáalooke Women and Warriors exhibit. Together, they created the first exhibit to focus solely on one tribe and to be curated by a tribal member from that community. She wrote a short article about her experience there. 
  • Apsáalooke Women and Warriors Exhibit CatalogLetter to my people and The Land That Raise Us. These are two pieces of writing that she published in the catalog. LaFrance also organized the Apsáaloobia: Still Standing Strong photo project in collaboration with an Apsáalooke photographer.

JoRee LaFrance co-published a journal article, Change Ripping through Our Waters and Culture, in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. This article was co-published by the Crow Environmental Health Steering Committee that looks at climate change impacts on the Crow Reservation

Please join us in congratulating JoRee La France for all her great work, success and achievements!!!



Martin, Christine., Doyle, John., LaFrance, JoRee V., Lefthand, Myra J., Young, Sara L., Three Irons, Emery., Eggers, Margaret J. (April 2020). Change Ripping through Our Waters and Culture. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education. Issue 169.

Sanders, Nina., Roelstraete, Dieter., LaFrance, JoRee., Brien, Aaron., Brien, Luella., Old Elk, Hunter., McCleary, Timothy., Pease, Janine., LaFrance, Rusty., McCleary, Katherine., Hudetz, Mary., Bauerle, Phenocia., Lopez, Marty., Lear, Jonathan., Roberts, Meranda., Wali, Alaka. (March 2020) Apsáalooke Women and Warriors. University of Chicago Press.