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
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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 a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at UC Riverside. 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 Critical Mission Studies Research Grant (UC Office of the President), the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (Duke University), the Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues (UC Berkeley), the Institute of Governmental Studies (UC Berkeley), the UC Humanities Institute, and Pukúu Cultural Community Services. Her writing can be found in California History (UC Press), 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 Undergraduate Advisor

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

Office: Room 331B in Arts & Letters
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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
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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. 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 field, museum, and archival 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. Professor Nelson’s collaborative research, involving multiple tribes in California, regional and national parks, students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and fields of study, has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.

Professor Nelson is currently engaged in research with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria at Tolay Lake Regional Park and Point Reyes National Seashore. This research utilizes low impact and non-invasive methods for studying and managing tribal cultural resources and the impacts to these resources from climate change with technologies such as GPS/GIS, terrestrial LiDAR, and Ground Penetrating Radar.

Tribal Liaison

Professor Jacob Alvarado Waipuk

Jacob Alvarado Waipuk
Chair of Tribal Relations, Tribal Liaison, Division of Diversity and Innovation
Instructor in American Indian Studies

Office: PSFA-162
Phone: 619-594-0769
Office Hours: Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Jacob Alvarado Waipuk (tribal member from San Pasqual Kumeyaay) is part of the Kumeyaay Nation that resides in San Diego, California. His village is called San Pasqual or Amulkulkul in the Kumeyaay language Ipai Aa, “Language of the People." The name of his clan is called Waipuk, which means “kingsnake.” The village was located originally in the San Pasqual Valley. On his father’s side he is Lipan Apache, and Sun Clan. He graduated from San Diego State University and received a Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies and studied abroad at The University of British Columbia where he focused on First Nations studies. During his time at SDSU he was the president of the Native American Student Alliance. Jacob also teaches the Kumeyaay language, songs, and traditions of the Kumeyaay nation. He is currently in the JDP Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership at the University of California, San Diego and Cal State University, San Marcos where he focuses his research on schooling environments for indigenous youth, and the importance of indigenous teachings. He has worked eleven years with the youth of the San Pasqual Education Department teaching them the Kumeyaay songs, language, stories, traditions, and way of life. Everything he does is for the youth of San Pasqual, and being in higher education pursuing a Doctor of Education is all for his people, so that he can bring back what he learned and create educational pathways.

Jacob has supervised, trained, and coordinated the Technology and Culture Kumeyaay Literacy Education (T.A.C.K.L.E.) program for 8 years which is an 18-year-old partnership with University of California, San Diego. Undergraduate students and faculty assist with instruction to our Pre-K to 3rd grade computer literacy education, language and culture. Responsible for developing implementing, monitoring, evaluating, and reporting progress of the program; providing supervision, and guidance and teaching undergraduate students Kumeyaay history, language, and culture. He is co-writing a book about his experience with this program.

He is a board member for Indigenous Regeneration which exists to inspire Native communities on re-generative living concepts, through food cultivation, medicinal farming, culture and eco-village education programs, to achieve re-indigenization of true Tribal Sovereignty. He also was a board member many years for Inter-Tribal Sports in which unifies tribal youth and communities through structured athletic programs while providing necessary resources and developing a strong foundation in culture, leadership and wellness.


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 her thesis focused on decolonization in contemporary Appalachian Cherokee women's poetry. Caleigh has many research interests, including creative expressions of decolonial resistance and decolonizing curriculum. Her latest 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 pan-indigenous tool for decolonization. Caleigh is also involved in the American Indian Recruitment/UCLA TLCEE program through SDSU, which offers college-credit courses and college preparation to local Native high school students. Outside of the classroom, Caleigh enjoys surfing, hiking, traveling, reading/writing, crafting, and hanging out with her dog.

Professor Desmond Hassing

Desmond Hassing

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

An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a San Diego native, Desmond Hassing is a PhD student in the University of California, San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance. After a long career at Grossmont College, Desmond received a BA in Youth Theatre and a MA in Theatre from San Diego State University where his research focused on models of American Indian representation in modern media in 20th Century America (focusing primarily on the American Comic book between the years 1938 and 1975) and the effects of such representations on US Federal Indian policy.

As a PhD student, Hassing’s research interests focus on how the iconography of the Hollywood Indian trope in comic books, advertising, and minor league baseball mascots during the 20th Century served to aid the construction of Western American Identity and how the companies and institution that have deployed this iconography throughout their history adapt as the narrative they create is challenged by those seeking to generate a new sense of National Identity in the 21st Century.

A Board Trustee for TYPA (Teenage Youth Performing Arts), a San Diego theatre company dedicated to promoting creative leadership by teenage artists, Hassing is also a director and conceptual performance artist. Hassing’s most recent film, #stillhere, has been selected for the First Nations Film and Video Festival, California’s American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival, the One Heart Native Arts and Film Festival, the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, and was a finalist at the 2016 Equality International Film Festival.

Benjamin Jenkins

Benjamin Jenkins

Office: Room 112A in Storm Hall
To leave a phone message for Prof. Jenkins, call: 619-594-6991

Benjamin C. Jenkins is a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He completed his MFA in creative writing, and his BA in English, at SDSU. Currently, he works as a lecturer in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies and American Indian Studies departments at SDSU while also teaching English at Miramar College. In 2016, he won the new voices Native American writing contest at the literary journal, See the Elephant. He continues to research literature and issues pertaining to American Indians and other indigenous people throughout the world.

Gabriela Kovats

Gabriela Kovats, Ph.D.

Office: Room 286 in Arts and Letters
To leave a phone message for Prof. Kovats, call: 619-594-6991

Dr. Gabriela Kovats Sánchez is an interdisciplinary researcher and educator with 14 years of teaching experience at the elementary, high school, and college level. She is a lecturer in American Indian Studies and Chicana/o Studies as well as a postdoctoral research fellow with SDSU’s Research and Equity Scholarship Institute. Previously, Gabriela served as adjunct faculty at San Diego City College

Gabriela's work sheds light on monolithic notions of Latinidad in higher education that historically perpetuate the invisibility of Indigenous people. She has published work in the Journal of Latinos of Education and the Association of Mexican American Educators Journal. Gabriela’s current projects address the representation/consumption of Indigeneity within Chicanx Studies as well as the conceptual expansion of Latinidad in relationship to “Hispanic” Serving Institution (HSI) initiatives. She positions herself as a transnational Cali-pulqueña from Merced, California and Acapulco, Guerrero who experiences both the spoils and subjugation of the settler colonial project (Patel, 2014) and for this reason, aims to dismantle it inside and outside of the classroom

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Gabriela was Director of College and Career Success at Barrio Logan College Institute, a college prep non-profit organization for first generation college students. Gabriela obtained her bachelor’s from UC Davis, her master’s in Latin American Studies from SDSU, and her PhD from Claremont Graduate University and SDSU’s Joint Doctoral Program in Education. Since 2007, she’s been a volunteer with Familia Indígena Unida, a community-based organization dedicated to serving the Oaxaqueñx/Ñuu Savi community in San Diego. When Gabriela is not teaching, reading or writing, she’s dancing with Viva Folklórico and dj-ing under the pseudonym Niayuku. Follow her on Instagram @profekovats.

Linda Locklear

Linda Locklear

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

Linda Locklear (Lumbee), Faculty Emeritus at both Palomar College and San Diego State University, received a B.A. from SDSU in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology. She received an M.S. at SDSU in Counseling Psychology and an MA in Sociology from University of California San Diego. She is a consultant and lecturer on contemporary Indian issues for schools and organizations. She has done Ph.D. work in sociology at UCSD and completed a program in Tribal Law at UCLA. Her research interests are ethnographic\documentary film with a focus on American Indians, Tribal Advocacy, and American Indian Identity. Although retired, she continues to teach on an occasional basis.

Cassady Lynch

Cassady Lynch

Office: Room 338 in Arts & Letters
To leave a 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 recently completed 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.