June 2020

American indian Studies Center Monthly Newsletter

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Dear AISC Friends and Family,

It has become commonplace to say that we are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the dramatic inequality our communities have long been experiencing, both through the disproportionate impact of the virus itself, and though the disproportionate economic impacts. Our communities are frightened, exhausted, hungry, and angry. In this devastating context, the racially motivated killing of three African Americans — Amhaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd — has equally exposed, yet again, the ongoing presence of a lethal racism in our society. It is painful, it is outrage producing, it has brought us as a society to the brink of chaos. Perhaps a needed chaos, in the sense that in many ways these events are not, in fact, “unprecedented.” They have ample precedents in the inequality-produced underlying conditions that marked our communities for death in this pandemic, and in the nightmarish endless replay loop of Black deaths, particularly, though not exclusively, at the hands of police.

In a recent special issue of American Anthropologist on the anthropology of white supremacy, I argued that we should not be surprised at the resurgent white nationalism and misogyny that have characterized the period of the most recent presidential administration, because our society, as a settler capitalist state, is fundamentally structured upon these logics. I argued that we need to be thinking about structural rather than cosmetic change. The time for that change has come.

Never has the relationship between what is happening in the world and on our campus been more clear. As students, faculty and staff hit the streets to demand racial justice, an unfortunate number have been arrested or assaulted by police for voicing their legitimate demands. Sadly, on one night, the LAPD used UCLA’s Jackie Robinson stadium as a makeshift field jail, busing in people arrested on curfew violations and treating them abusively while booking them under Bruin banners. We have joined other faculty in vocally denouncing this activity, and united our voice with those currently calling for full UCLA divestment from LAPD. True leadership is greatly needed as we seek to end structural racism on our campus and in our society. We hope that UCLA leadership will choose to lead.

Chinchokma’ni sabanna/be well,

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.


June 2020 Newsletter


Due to the COVID-19 epidemic the UCLA AISC has cancelled group events. Follow us on Facebook to find online events.


June marks the final month of the 50th anniversary of the American Indian Studies Center. Each month during the past year, we have highlighted one of our alumni in this newsletter’s Native Bruins: Past, Present & Emerging feature. Because this feature has proved to be highly popular, we have decided to continue it indefinitely. You can read about our illustrious alumni on our website and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). This month we are highlighting Native Bruin GREG SARRIS.


Greg Sarris received his PhD in Modern Thought andLiterature from Stanford University, where he was awarded the Walter Gore Award for excellence in teaching. He has published several books, including the widely anthologized collection of essays, Keeping Slug Woman Alive: A Holistic Approach to American Indian Texts, and Grand Avenue, an award-winning collection of short stories, which he adapted for an HBO miniseries. His last novel, Watermelon Nights, received rave reviews and was adapted for a play. His play, entitled Mission Indians, received the 2003 Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for Best Script.

He coproduced, advised, and was featured in a sixteen-part series on American literature for Public Television called American Passages, which won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Documentary in 2003. He has written pilot scripts for Showtime and HBO, co-edited a book for MLA, Teaching the Work of Louise Erdrich (2004), “doctored” many scripts, and worked with the Sundance Institute, where he helped develop a summer writing lab for American Indians.

Greg is serving his fourteenth consecutive term as chairman of his tribe, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. He co-authored a bill on behalf of the tribe, H.R. 5528, which President Clinton signed in 2010, restoring his people as a recognized American Indian tribe. In 2010, Greg successfully regained a reservation for his people and in 2013, he raised money to build a tribal resort and casino. In addition to serving as chairman, he is president of the tribe’s Development Board, overseeing all of the tribe’s business interests.

Formerly a professor of English at UCLA, and then the Fletcher Jones Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Loyola Marymount University, Greg now holds the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Endowed Chair of Sonoma State University, where he teaches courses in creative writing and literature. His collection of children’s stories entitled How a Mountain Was Made (2017) was awarded a Bronze Medal from Independent Publisher Book Awards. Currently, he is finishing a novel and executive producing a documentary biopic on Joan Baez. He serves on several boards and advisory councils, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“I graduated from UCLA in 1977 with a major in English. I then went on to Stanford University where I received an MA in English and a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature. Regarding my time at UCLA, I found my experience at UCLA richly rewarding even as I often felt myself in an environment very different from what I knew in my rather small hometown of Santa Rosa, California. I was fortunate to have teachers and mentors such as Ken Lincoln and Carole Goldberg who were sensitive to my American Indian background and supported my endeavors to write and study American Indian literature.”



The American Indian Studies Center Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary.

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.




We want to assure you that the editorial staff of the American Indian Culture an Research Journal are continuing to work remotely through UCLA’s temporary office closures. Please continue to submit articles to Editor-in-Chief Randall Akee at However, because we are working from home during this time, we will temporarily be unable to fulfill book orders until further notice. Please do not hesitate to contact Pamela Grieman with any publications-related concerns at And please stay safe and healthy!


New! Special AICRJ Issue on Blackness and Indigeneity

The next issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal on “Rethinking Blackness and Indigeneity in the Light of Settler Colonial Theory” is now available online and in print. Guest-edited by Circe Sturm, this special issue explores the intersections of Blackness and Indigeneity from two primary analytic and theoretical frames, critical race theory and settler colonialism (vol. 43, no. 2). Contributors include Shanya Cordis, William Felepchuk, Sarah Fong, Reid Gómez, Kelsey Dayle John and Kimberly Williams Brown, Jessi Quizar, Circe Sturm, and Joyce Pualani Warren.

Forthcoming! Special AICRJ Issue on Indigeneity, Feminism, Activism

Keep your eyes out for the next issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal on “Indigeneity, Feminism, Activism.” Guest-edited by Joanne Barker, this special issue includes contributions from Joanne Barker, Jaskiran Dhillon, Annita Hetoevehotohke’e Lucchesi, Melissa K. Nelson, Kai Pyle, and Melanie Yazzie, with poetry by Kecia Cook and Janelle Pewapsconias and fiction by Deborah Miranda.

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.

Congratulations the American Indian Studies Class of 2020!


Sarah Thompson

Affiliation: Ally

AIS Master’s Degree

Cesar Barreras Rodarte Ka'tu'i

Tribal Affiliation: Yo’em Pueblo Arizona/Sonora

Angelica Castillo

Tribal Affiliation: Wixárika/Náayeri

Carlie Domingues

Tribal Affiliation: Chumash

Tabatha Keton

Affiliation: Ally

Carolyn Rodriguez

Tribal Affiliation: Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

Alexa Sampson

Tribal Affiliation: Lumbee

AIS Bachelor’s Degree

Ramona Morgan Blowers

Tribal Affiliation: Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut

Elaina Corbin Tekpatl Kuauhtzin

Tribal Affiliation: Nahua/ Cucapah

Julia Reeder

Affiliation: Ally

Daniel Streamer

Tribal Affiliation: Los Coyotes — Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians

Donald Salcedo

Cheyenne Suzukawa

Tribal Affiliation: Oglala Lakota

AIS Minor

Ruby Cedillo Bravo

Affiliation: Ally


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