San Diego State University American Indian Studies Department

Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

Assistant Professor Olivia Chilcote

Olivia Chilcote, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Room 327 in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Chilcote, call:

Olivia Chilcote (Luiseño, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians) received her Ph.D. and M.A. in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in the Ethnic & Women’s Studies Department at Cal Poly Pomona. She is currently an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University and an affiliated faculty of the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues. Her research and teaching focus on the areas of interdisciplinary Native American Studies, federal Indian law and policy, Native American identity, and Native California.

Professor Chilcote’s first book project investigates the politics and history of federal recognition in California and uses a case study of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. Her manuscript analyzes the intricacies of identities structured by legal definitions, the ways in which unrecognized tribes assert tribal sovereignty despite legal classifications, and how tribal engagement with the Federal Acknowledgment Process is part of a longer history of U.S.-tribal relationships. Her future research will build on themes explored in her manuscript including the limits of tribal sovereignty, identity, race, and gender in unrecognized tribal contexts across California and the United States, with implications for the politics of recognition of indigenous peoples internationally.

Professor Chilcote has received support and funding for her research from: the Ford Foundation, the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, the Institute of Governmental Studies, the UC Humanities Institute, and Pukúu Cultural Community Services. She has presented her research at academic conferences including the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the American Studies Association, and the California Indian Conference. Her writing can be found in the forthcoming volume New Voices in California Indian Studies (ed. by Risling Baldy and Middleton Manning) and an update to the California edition of the Handbook of the North American Indians (Smithsonian Institution). She has also published work in Boletín: Journal of the California Missions Studies Association, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and News From Native California.

Professor Chilcote grew up in the center of her tribe’s traditional territory in the North County of San Diego, and she is active in tribal politics and other community efforts. She is the first person in her tribe to earn a Ph.D.

Professor Margaret Field

Margaret Field, Ph.D., Professor and Acting Chair

Office: Room 325 in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Field, call: 619-594-6991

Margaret Field is a Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests include language socialization, language ideology, language documentation and the sociolinguistics and pragmatics of American Indian languages. Her current research focuses on documenting the various dialects of Kumeyaay spoken in Baja California as well as the Ko’alh language (spoken in Santa Catarina, BCN).

Associate Professor and Chair David Kamper

David Kamper, Ph.D., Associate Professor, and Acting Student Advisor (for Fall 2018 only)

Office: Room 331B in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Kamper, call:

David Kamper has a Master's in American Indian Studies and a Ph.D. in Anthropology, both from the University of California, Los Angeles. His research interests are American Indian political economy; economic development; tribal sovereignty; race, gender, & culture in sports; labor studies; and American cultural studies. His first book, The Work of Sovereignty: Labor Activism and Self-Determination at the Navajo Nation offers an historical and ethnographic account of tribal labor relations. It explores how employees of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service use grassroots and labor activism to secure a voice in Navajo Nation politics. His research looks at how tribal self-determination is envisioned and enacted at the grassroots level as well as the tribal nation-state level. Currently he is working on a manuscript entitled Sporting Native Wellness: How American Indians Build Communities of Healing through Basketball, Skateboarding, and Golf which considers three very popular recreational activities (basketball, golf, skateboarding) in Indian Country and how participation in these sports promotes individual and communal health and wellness combating inter-generational trauma derived from settler colonialism. In Sporting Native Wellness he chronicles Indian communities’ use of basketball, golf, and skateboarding for implicit and explicit goals of mending society. These stories of Native participation in sport illustrate how indigenous people revive tradition and revitalize culture by engaging popular American culture for their own purposes of creating new indigenous practices of meaning. He also has interest in issues of the ways in which mainstream culture represents Indigenous peoples and the effects of these dominant representations. He has edited a book on American Indian casino gaming entitled Indian Gaming: Who Wins?.

Assistant Professor Peter Nelson

Peter Nelson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Room 329 in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Nelson, call:

Peter A. Nelson (Coast Miwok and a tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) is Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. He is Coast Miwok and a tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria whose traditional territory is located in Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties, California. Trained in the field of North American archaeology, he specializes in collaborative and community-based research that serves Native American communities and enriches academic scholarship. After receiving his B.A. in Anthropology and English from the University of Washington in Seattle (2007), and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley (2017), he joined the faculty at SDSU in 2017.

Professor Nelson has directed archaeological and heritage management projects in California and conducted research in both field and museum settings in Washington, California, New York, and Washington, D.C. His research focuses on methods for indigenous archaeology and community engagement, the management and study of tribal cultural resources with community research partners, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and indigenous landscape management, and California Indian resistance to and refusal of Spanish, Mexican and American settler colonialism. These collaborative research programs, involving tribes, regional and national parks, students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and fields of study, have been funded by the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.

During his tenures as a graduate fellow of the National Science Foundation (2011-2014), the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues (2015-2017), and the Ford Foundation (2016-2017), Professor Nelson developed research partnerships with tribes in Central California which he hopes to expand to more tribes across the state. One increasingly prevalent issue across California is climate change impacts to ancestral sites from sea level rise, drought, mud slides and other extreme conditions. Professor Nelson is currently implementing low impact and non-invasive methods for studying these resources and impacts to them with technologies such as GPS, terrestrial LiDAR, and Ground Penetrating Radar. Professor Nelson is currently engaged in research with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria at Tolay Lake Regional Park and Point Reyes National Seashore and with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band on the Santa Cruz Coast.


Professor Richard Carrico

Richard Carrico

Office: Room 323 in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Carrico, call: 619-594-6991

Richard Carrico, a Warner Springs resident and wine maker, is a lecturer in the Department of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University and an adjunct professor in the Behavioral Sciences Department at San Diego Mesa Community College where he teaches anthropology. In addition to more than 30 publications in professional journals, Richard is the author of the recently released Images of America Series: Ramona (Arcadia Publications May 2011); the newly revised Strangers in a Stolen Land: The Indians of San Diego County from Prehistory to the New Deal (Sunbelt Publications 2014) and History of the Wineries of San Diego County (Recuerdos Press 2007--soon to be reissued in an expanded format; he also has authored stand alone chapters in three academic books.

Professor Caleigh Cornell

Caleigh Cornell

Office: Room 338 in Arts & Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Cornell, call: 619-594-6991

Caleigh Cornell graduated from SDSU with a M.A. in English and a concentration in American Indian literature. She teaches in the American Indian Studies department at SDSU and in the English department at Mesa Community College. Her thesis focused on decolonization in contemporary Appalachian Cherokee women's poetry, the authors' calls for reclamation of traditional women's roles through the traditional practice of basket-weaving, and her own family's historical fragmentation as descendants of the Eastern Woodland Cherokee people. She has many research interests including: surfing and indigeneity, creative/artistic embodied expressions as resistance, decolonizing pedagogies, feminism/gender, American Indian identity, and the long-lasting effects of settler colonialism on all peoples. Her current research investigates the double erasure of both Acjachamen and Hawaiian indigenous histories in the colonial narratives of popular surfing culture in Southern California, at San Onofre (Trestles) in particular, and it considers the ways in which surfing might be reclaimed as a reparative activity that facilitates the process of decolonization. Caleigh has also been involved in the American Indian Recruitment and UCLA summer course program, which offers college-credit courses, college preparation, and mentorship to local Native high school students. Outside of the classroom, Caleigh enjoys surfing, hiking, travelling, reading/writing, crafting, and hanging out with her basset hound.

Teaching Associate

Cassady Lynch

Cassady Lynch

Office: Room 338 in Arts & Letters
To leave phone message for Prof. Lynch, call: 619-594-6991

Hesci! Cass cvhocefkv tos. I was born and raised in San Diego, although I have spent a great deal of my life traveling. I'm NGE Mvskoke/Cherokee and have Irish ancestry. I live for the mountains and backpack/hike as often as possible. I'm an avid gardener and birder, and my three dogs never seem to complain when I drag them along.

I attended Grossmont College and received degrees in the Humanities, English, and Creative Writing. I completed my undergrad here at SDSU for English and American Indian Studies. I'm currently working on my MA in Rhetoric with an emphasis on the Teaching of Writing. My research focuses on indigenous rhetorics, domestic terrorism & the militia movement, social justice, pop culture studies and queer studies.