APRIL 2021

American Indian Studies Center Monthly Newsletter

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Dear AISC Friends and Family,

Chokma! I hope that everyone is well, and well on their way to getting fully vaccinated. UCLA is currently expecting that 80 percent of classes will be held on campus in the fall, and at the AISC we are developing our plans for hybrid in-person and remote work. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you again in person in the near future. 

I want to start by noting the passing of AISC friend and collaborator, Julia Bogany. We send our most heartfelt condolences to Julia’s family. Her wit and wisdom will be greatly missed by us and by many at UCLA.

We are extending our congratulations to the 2021–22 Institute of American Cultures (IAC) Visiting Scholar for the AISC, Dr. Liza Black. She will spend the year with us working on the manuscript for her second book, “How to Get Away with Murder: A History of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” In this important history, she will address family separation policies, the erosion of tribal sovereignty, the policing of Native America, the dispossession of Native land, and the impact of “man camps” on border towns. We look forward to supporting her work!

And we are very excited about our new Chancellor’s Postdoctoral position, a product of collaboration between the IAC and the Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA). Our inaugural postdoctoral fellow is Lydia Heberling, who is of Mexican, Yaqui, and German descent and who will be working with mentor Mishuana Goeman on the project Oceanic Intimacies: Indigenous Canoeing and Surfing as Embodied Acts of Thrivance in the Indigenous Pacific. 

In addition, we will be welcoming two President’s Postdoctoral Fellows to campus next year, historian Luis Sánchez López (Zapoteco) and socio-hydrologist Jory Lerback. Luis will be working with me as a mentor on his book manuscript, “The Value of Native Bodies: Autonomy, Customary Law, and the Logic of Elimination in Mexico.” Jory will work with mentor Aradhna Tripati, and collaborate on our Diverse Perspectives on Water project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

The AISC is busy with grants and research activities. The co-PIs on the Mellon-funded Archiving in the Age of Mass Incarceration grant are in the planning phase, creating job descriptions for staff and researching alternatives for the digital platform. We submitted three grants this month, to the NSF, the Packard Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation. Thank you, Pamela Grieman and Jamie Chan, for all the work getting those submitted! These three grants opportunities arose from the AISC’s collaboration with the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science (CDLS) and its director, Aradhna Tripati (see below for more about the CDLS and Dr. Tripati!). 

We have some exciting events coming up, as well, thanks to our events coordinator extraordinaire, Pamela J. Peters. See below for details!

Chinchokma’nihookmano anhili,

Shannon Speed
Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center


For up to date information on the COVID-19 outbreak, please access:

UCLA acknowledges the Tongva People

AISC at UCLA acknowledges the Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands) and are grateful to have the opportunity to work for the Taraaxatom (indigenous peoples) in this place. As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to Honuukvetam (Ancestors), 'Ahiihirom (Elders), and 'Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/ relations) past, present and emerging.


April 2021 Newsletter


This April we are highlighting Native Bruin Heather Torres, a citizen of the San Ildefonso Pueblo, who also comes from the Diné and Mexican peoples.  A graduate of 2011 with a BA in English and American Indian Studies, cum laude, and a 2017 JD, specialization in Critical Race Studies.

A “Bruin4Life,” Heather Torres Esq. is a citizen of San Ildefonso Pueblo, and also comes from the Diné and Mexican peoples. She is the descendant of boarding school survivors, the daughter of Rose and Greg Torres, and an older sister to Christina Torres. Heather grew up in the Inland Empire of Southern California, in Yuhaaviatam and Cahuilla homelands, dreaming of going to UCLA as a young athlete. Heather currently works as the Program Director for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute,, a Native-operated nonprofit with a mission to enhance and strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice while honoring community values, protecting rights, and promoting well-being. She values reciprocity and serves various organizations as a board member, many of which played a part in where she is today, including the National Native American Bar Association, the American Indian Scholarship Fund of Southern California, United American Indian Involvement, and many more. 

Close to Heather’s heart is her belief that higher education is one path to maintaining strong and healthy tribal nations. One of her greatest accomplishments is building Native student programs at the University of Redlands, a Native student-support program made possible by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Today, she serves as one of the tribe’s representatives on the program’s advisory committee. Recently, Heather co-authored a comment on Native recruitment and retention, “Commentary on the Recruitment and Retention of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in California Postsecondary Education Institutions” in UCLA’s American Indian Culture and Research Journal, volume 44, issue 1.

“I credit my time with the American Indian Studies department, and especially the American Indian Student Association and the American Indian Alumni of UCLA, with providing the foundational skillsets, lasting friendships, and strong mentors that guided me to where I am today. In many ways, Campbell Hall remains a home to me —I only stopped carrying an old key to the AISA lounge a few years ago— and I cannot find it in me to throw it away. As my family says, I will be a Bruin4Life.”



The UCLA American Indian Studies Center (AISC) was founded in 1969 as a research institute dedicated to addressing American Indian issues and supporting Native communities. The AISC serves as a hub of activities for Indigenous students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community, as well as serving as a bridge between the academy and indigenous peoples locally, nationally, and internationally. We foster innovative academic research by students and faculty, publish leading scholarship in the field of American Indian Studies, and support events and programming focused on Indigenous issues.

Zoom Events

THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2021 from 3:30–5 PM PST  


Beginning in 1807 with James Nelson Barker and John Bray's The Indian Princess and ending with John Brougham's 1869 burlesque Po-ca-hon-tas, American playwrights and audiences in the "Indian Plays" era were repeatedly drawn to the Powhatan woman, Matoaka.


Thinking Gender 2021: "Care, Mutual Aid, and Reproductive Labor in a Time of Crisis”

APRIL 28-30, 2021 from 8 AM–5 PM PST  


Join the UCLA Center for the Study of Women on Friday, April 30, 2021 for a special Thinking Gender 2021 webinar featuring keynote presentations and a conversation with Dean Spade and Melanie Yazzie on the subject of mutual aid, abolitionist politics of care, and radical relationality.














 FRIDAY, APRIL 30 from 4 pm PST   


Join us on Friday, April 30th at 4pm PST/6pm CST/7pm EST in honor of the forthcoming publication of Chris Stark's new novel about missing and murdered Indigenous relations. In addition to a reading by the author, the event features commentary by Indigenous author, human rights lawyer, Julian Aguon. 

About Chris: Chris Stark (Anishinaabe and Cherokee) is a grass roots organizer, author, and researcher focused on violence against Native American women and youth. She has researched and written about white supremacy and misogyny, most notably in "Strategies to Restore Justice for Sex Trafficked Native Women" and (as a co-author) "Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota."





 We are excited to announce that the first of two special issues on COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples is now available! Titled “COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples: Impact of and Response to the Pandemic,” this first issue was edited by Randall Akee, Chandra Ford, and Stephanie R. Carroll. It covers topics ranging from urban care-giving in Indian country, to risk and resilience factors for Native youth, to stress and coping, to health equity for Indigenous peoples with disabilities, and survivance and sovereignty in Canada. 

Check it out:



AISC Begins New Partnership with CDLS 

AISC is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Aradhna Tripati, founder of UCLA’s Center for Diverse Leadership in Science.

She is Associate Professor in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES), the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, the Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP), and the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI), as her work is highly interdisciplinary.

She researches and teaches about climate change; the history and dynamics of changing Earth systems including climate, ice sheets, oceans, the water cycle, carbon dioxide levels; tool development; and clumped isotope geochemistry.



American Indian Studies Center Publications

The Center's publications unit operates as a small independent press, one of the few that prizes Native voices in works of creative writing, community handbooks, and academic publications. Our flagship publication is the American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ), which has been recognized as one of the leading serial publications on Native American life and issues. In addition to publishing works on contemporary and historical American Indian issues, law, and politics, the press publishes books of plays, poetry, and fiction. Due to UCLA's closure during the pandemic, book sales have been suspended. You can purchase books from Small Press Distribution,




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