American indian Studies Center Monthly Newsletter

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Dear AISC Friends and Family,

Chokma! We wind down our quarter and head into the holidays in a somber mood, with COVID cases on the rise in dramatic fashion in Los Angeles County. All of us at the AISC hope that each and every one of you is staying safe. While the holidays may be quieter than usual as we all pursue the goal of safety and wellness, we hope they will bring you rest and time for self-care. 

After our exhilarating month of programming in November for Native American Heritage Month, we have limited our December programming. However, we do have a couple of exciting events this month, so I encourage you to check them out below. 

Chinchokma’ni sabanna/Wishing you health,

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.


November 2020 Newsletter




In this dialogue with the Newberry’s Blaire Topash- Caldwell (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians), Shannon Speed (Chickasaw) will discuss the present and future of Native American and Indigenous Studies in apocalyptic times. Native Studies, like virtually everything else, will be reshaped by the dramatic dynamics affecting the world, from pandemic pandemonium to climate change chaos, from rising calls for racial reckoning to escalating totalitarian threat. What is the current state of Native Studies? What are its longstanding tensions and contemporary challenges. More importantly, what are its potential contributions to the radical revisioning of the world that is so urgently needed now? 

Check D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Newberry Library for taped event.



The applications site will open on October 15, 2020. Completed applications must be received by 11:59 pm on January 7, 2021. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Applicants will be notified in March. 

To Apply:

The Inter-American System of Human Rights: Lights, shadows and new paths

Thursday, December 10, 2020 (International Human Day) AT 1 :00 PM PST
Zoom - online event

Register online or stream via YouTube




Join UCLA AISC and Institut des Amériques for an in-depth conversation about the struggles for food sovereignty and environmental justice during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Navajo Nation has been, and is still deeply impacted by COVID-19, in large part due to the structural inequalities on Indigenous territories. What are the impacts of the pandemic for farmers and activists? What can and should be done?



Grant Period: July 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022. Applications available October 15, 2020 and must be received by 11:59 p.m., March 1, 2021. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Applicants will be notified in May.

To Apply:


This December we are highlighting Native Bruin Reuben Duane Bending from the Yakama tribe.

Reuben Duane Bending was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His parents moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles in 1956, after his father attended Phoenix Indian School and his mother attended Cook Bible College. Reuben attended UCLA from the fall of 1976 and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor of science degree in US history. Reuben currently works for his Yakama tribe in Toppenish, Washington as the program director for the Yakama Nation Real Estate Services Program, a program operating under a PL-638 contract, not associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The purpose of the program is to serve the Yakama tribe and its members in the areas of property management which include leasing, rights of way, acquisition and disposal (which is primarily the conveyance of real property title) and probate of trust property interest. As the program director, Reuben is responsible for assuring that the transactions are done in concurrence with current federal requirements while there is an adherence and respect of tribal community values and practices.

“The Time spent at UCLA was, as far as I am concerned, a great time.  I guess you could say I’m a second-generation UCLA student.  My mother attended UCLA as well. Attending UCLA was a unique experience for me, one that I will cherish.” 

Reuben shared that it took some time to readjust to life on his Yakama reservation after living in Los Angeles for many years. His mother attended school with him. She graduated in 1978 and his father graduated from Cal State Northridge in 1979. While living in Los Angeles, he and his family were active with the First American Indian Church.


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.




AICRJ IS REORGANIZING! Under the stewardship of Editor-in-Chief Randall Akee, AICRJ is in the process of reviewing its editorial board and peer review procedures. Current editorial board members have served many years, some a decade and more, as reviewers, advisers, and guest editors. Keep your eyes out for the January AISC newsletter when Editor-in-Chief Randall Akee will discuss some of the forthcoming changes and his vision for the journal moving forward. 



AICRJ is soliciting qualified scholars to review submitted manuscripts and to write book reviews. We seek scholars from a broad spectrum of fields but are particularly interested in those with expertise in California Indians, Pacific Islanders, performance, art, healthcare, communications/social media, labor, poverty, voting, commerce, data, biopolitics, and any aspect of science. Please email Managing Editor Pamela Grieman and request a reviewer form at




AISC Director Shannon Speed and MSO Jamie Chan presented the Hate Crime Map at the inaugural UC GIS Week conference as part of the “Mapping Social Justice” panel, along with copresenter Chris Lam, a fourth-year undergraduate studying computer science. The Hate Crime Map is a crowd-sourced platform created as a space where victims of hate-related assault and harassment can document the incident, without having to file a police report. It gives data and sophisticated visualizations by state of the types and causes (race, gender, religion) of the attacks. It also includes a separate map documenting COVID-related hate-based incidents. In addition to the stories published in newspapers, the Hate Map is where you can read the stories you can’t find anywhere else. 




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.

American Indian Studies Center Library

Monday, December 14, the AISC Library will hold a drop-in Zoom event for students needing end-ofterm library support, to set up personal reference appointments with the librarian, and to help patrons navigate to the services available through YRL library such as PETDOR and Page and Pick-Up Service. The drop-in event will take place from 11 am to 12 pm that day. 

Topic: AISC Library End of Term Support 

Time: Dec 14, 2020 11 am Pacific time (US and Canada) 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 986 4517 8817 UCLA AIS alumna and recent graduate, Sedna Villavicencio, has just completed her work on November 30 as the research assistant on the Los Angeles County Museum IMLS Blackburn Grant Project with the ambitious goal of providing research, description, and digital access to a collection of more than 9,000 photos from a 19th and early 20th century photography collection. The collection was a partial gift from Mark and Carolyn Blackwood, and it includes photography from Hawaii and other areas in the Pacific including Aotearoa, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, and more. Sedna and her colleague Luz Maria Mejia Ramos wrote about the project here in its third and final LACMA blog post:


Sedna worked closely with AISC Librarian Joy Holland, who serves as chair of the advisory board on the Blackburn Project at LACMA and is working along with collection professionals, cultural historians, and other experts to create guidelines for LACMA to observe best practices and engage Indigenous communities represented in the photos. Joy and Sedna worked together on other matters related to advocating for Indigenous acknowledgments at LACMA, and Sedna also consulted with AISC Director Dr. Shannon Speed, as well as Tongva experts and colleagues, to contribute to a newly implemented land acknowledgment that LACMA has crafted. Kudos to Sedna on her great work!

AISC’s “Giving Tuesday” campaign this year focused on a project to get the AISC Library’s collection barcoded, which would enable it to circulate to provide equitable and better access to materials in the American Indian studies field. The project will provide better opportunities for research patrons and students and create a more welcoming environment for students when campus activities resume by allowing books and materials to be checked out. The project will also allow responsive collection management and purchasing to keep the collection connected to scholar and student needs! Please consider adding to this fund! Click here!






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