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Message from the Director

Dear AISC friends and family,

Chokma, and welcome to 2020! All of us at the AISC wish you a happy and productive year ahead. We start the new year by celebrating the newest member of our staff family, Pamela Peters (Navajo), who has joined us in the crucial role of Administrative Specialist. In this position, Pamela will be our events coordinator and will be helping us to expand our social media presence, as well as handling a variety of important business tasks. Pamela is extremely well qualified for the position, and we are fortunate to have her and excited to work with her.

Our 50th anniversary year continues, with a variety of exciting events. Please see below for details, and hope to see you at one of these events in the near future.

Shannon Speed
Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center


Welcome, Pamela J. Peters, Operations & Events Coordinator!

Pamela PetersThe American Indian Studies Center would like to welcome Pamela J. Peters as the new Operations & Events Coordinator. She is a multimedia Indigenous documentarian from the Navajo (Diné) Reservation. Pamela graduated from UCLA in 2011 and holds a BA in American Indian Studies and Film & Television Studies. Pamela previously worked for JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) and their top client Thomson Reuters as an Operations Coordinator and as an American Indian Community Outreach Event Coordinator too.

We are happy to have her onboard and part of the AISC team!


Next Issue of AICRJ Is on Its Way!

Keep an eye out for the next issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, which features a never-before-published study of color use, pigment, and paint technology among the Haida and Tlingit. The issue includes an analysis of American Indian Employment patterns; a discussion of the Diné system of kinship and clanship as a response to environmental and political instability; a novel interpretation of Cherokee creation and subsistence narratives; and a sophisticated analysis of how cannibalism serves not only as subject matter but also as an aesthetic in How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman. Also included are reviews of 10 books.

AISC Publications website:


Institute of American Cultures 2020–2021 Research Grant Program in Ethnic Studies

The UCLA Institute of American Cultures (IAC) invites applications for support of research on African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Chicanas/os for 2020–2021. The Institute also invites proposals on interethnic relations that will increase collaboration between the Centers and/or between the Centers and other campus units.

Deadline: Applications available October 15, 2019 and must be received by 11:59 p.m., March 1, 2020. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Applicants will be notified in May.

For more information and to apply:


News from the AISC Library

The UCLA American Indian Studies Center and Library is excited to announce the acquisition of the Dr. Nancy Marie Mithlo Papers: Venice Biennale collection. The collection documents the historically significant Native presence and Native group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, from 1999–2017. This indigenous presence in Venice and the inaugural and subsequent Native exhibitions were planned and curated by Dr. Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache), who is a Professor of Gender Studies and American Indian Studies at UCLA. The collection documents both renowned and up-and-coming Native artist work in this important venue, and interesting correspondence, ephemera, posters, planning documents, and other materials related to known officials and figures in the field. It is anticipated that the research value of this collection will be cross-disciplinary and we are excited about the creative possibilities for it.

Dr. Mithlo starts the New Year off by gifting her important collection to the AISC Library

A reminder that the AISC Library is preparing for an exhibit on Native Activism later in the academic year and is collecting photos, paper, and ephemera related to all Native activism with special emphasis on California, UCLA, and Native women activists. If you are alumni, community friends, or former staff members and have materials you would be willing to discuss or share, contact Joy Holland at

The AISC Librarian is collaborating with Los Angeles County Museum of Art as an Advisory Research Consultant for the length of an NEH Grant on a significant collection with subject strength in Hawaii and Pacific related photography. The Librarian looks forward to finding ways to connect and support our colleagues and create collaborative opportunities with us at UCLA. We provided some support surrounding the grand opening of the major LACMA exhibition Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific at LACMA in December. The exhibit features the nuanced and beautiful indigenous art of Fiji. The ceremony started with important diplomatic exchanges between the Tongva community (the traditional land caretakers of Tovangaar, Los Angeles Basin and So. Channel Islands) and Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama and other diplomats. The exhibit will be at LACMA until July 19, 2020!

AISC Librarian Joy Holland with exhibit contributor, Freddy Hooper, and  Fiji Museum Executive Director, Sipiriano Nemani, inside Fiji exhibit gallery at LACMA.

Tongva representatives pose with the Prime Minister of Fiji after a cultural exchange.

The librarian looks forward to hosting some instructional sessions to help with the basics of using the AISC Library, research skills, and database and article searching this term, as well as some informal gatherings in the library. All will be welcome, but Joy looks forward in particular to reconnecting with our students and hearing about your winter breaks! Stay tuned for more details.


Empire's Tracks: A Talk by Dr. Manu Karuka's%20Tracks_sm.jpgMonday, January 13, 2020
3 PM— 4:30 PM
UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library, Main Conference Room

Dr. Manu Karuka will give an overview of his new book, Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad (University of California Press, 2019). Empire’s Tracks boldly reframes the history of the transcontinental railroad from the perspectives of the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Pawnee tribes, and the Chinese migrants who toiled on its path. Karuka situates the railroad within the violent global histories of colonialism and capitalism, examining legislative, military, and business records to explain the imperial foundations of U.S. political economy. Tracing the shared paths of Indigenous and Asian American histories, this multi-sited interdisciplinary study connects military occupation to exclusionary border policies.

Manu Karuka, assistant professor of American Studies at Barnard College, critiques imperialism, with a particular focus on anti-racism and Indigenous decolonization.

Please RSVP to the talk for an accurate headcount.
Following the talk, Dr. Karuka will be hosting a workshop for students from 5— 6 pm in Rolfe 2125. Snacks will be provided.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.


Film Screening: The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw, January 16, 2020
7:30 PM
UCLA James Bridges Theater

RVSP at Seats are limited. The UCLA American Indian Studies Center will be hosting the Los Angeles premiere of award-winning visual artist and filmmaker Shelley Niro’s new feature film, The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw. A Q&A will follow with Director Shelley Niro.

This event is co-sponsored by Melnitz Movies (UCLA Graduate Students Association and the ASUCLA Student Interaction Fund), Bruin Film Society, Department of Gender Studies, American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program, Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Center for the Study of Women, UCLA Canadian Studies Program, UCLA Institute of American Cultures, and the UCLA Division of Social Sciences.


Animated Film Screening: The Old Kiyyangan Story, January 31, 2020
5 PM
Anthropology Reading Room, 352 Haines Hall

The event is free and open to the public.

Join us for film screening, research presentation, and Q&A with co-screenwriter and Associate Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Stephen Acabado. The Old Kiyyangan Story is an anthropological film based on oral histories and archaeological excavations at the Old Kiyyangan Village, Ifugao, Philippines.


Co-sponsored by the UCLA American Indian Studies Center


The Sea of Grass: A Family Tale from the American Heartland— a book talk by Walter Echo-Hawk

Thursday, February 5, 2020
1:30 PM— 2 PM: coffee reception
2 PM— 3 PM: book talk
3 PM— 3:30 PM: book signing
Presentation Room, UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library

Walter Echo-Hawk's The Sea of Grass traces ten generations of his Pawnee Indian family in the Central Plains of North America. All families have ancient roots with powerful stories to tell. Echo-Hawk's family survived the challenges of colonialism as settlers engulfed their homeland during the rise and growth of our democracy. Echo-Hawk will explain why he wrote this book, how he gathered family history, and how he wrote this historical novel. Afterward, he will give selective readings. His talk will captivate scholars in contemporary Native American literature, indigenous culture, American Indian history, and creative writing—as well as students interested in researching family history and telling their ancestors' stories. Books will be available for sale, and can be autographed by the author.

RSVP at by January 29.


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