San Diego State University American Indian Studies Department Logo

Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

Assistant Professor Olivia Chilcote

Olivia Chilcote, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Email: ochilcote@sdsu.edu
Office:
AL-327

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. 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

Email: mfield@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-325
Website: https://sites.google.com/a/mail.sdsu.edu/mfield/

Margaret Field is an Emeritus Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University, who currently teaches classes in the Spring semesters only. 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

Email: dkamper@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-331B

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 Esme Murdock

Esme G. Murdock, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Email: emurdock@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-329

Esme G. Murdock received her Ph.D. in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and Associate Director of the College of Arts and Letters' Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs at San Diego State University.

Her research interests include environmental justice, Indigenous and Afro-descended environmental ethics, settler colonial theory, and decolonization as land/resource rematriation. Murdock comes to this work as a descendant of enslaved Africans and settlers in North America. Her current work explores the devastating impacts of colonization and slavery on both Indigenous and Afro-descended peoples and environments on Turtle Island. She anchors her understanding of settler colonialism, in particular, in the experiences and theorization of Native and Black communities especially toward securing decolonial futures. She often writes back to mainstream environmental discourse that attempts to “read out” colonization as the context of environmental degradation and destruction, particularly in the settler colonies of the United States and Canada. Her work centers conceptions of land and relating to land found within both Indigenous and African American/Afro-descended environmental philosophies. Murdock has work published in Environmental Values, Global Ethics, Hypatia, Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, and World Philosophies.

Murdock’s first book manuscript is a project of public ecological (re)memory anchored in the understanding that land has memory. Her methods include both Indigenous memory/re-memory work and Black feminist witnessing. She is, thus, writing a land history of the South Carolina Sea Coast that engages in the diverse and often erased ecological histories, ecological heritages, ethnobotanical knowledges, and complex relations of Indigenous and Afro-descended peoples within the colonial complex of multiple European powers.

Assistant Professor Brittani Orona

Brittani R. Orona, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Email: TBA
Office: AL-321 (on scholarly fellowship leave during 2021-22)

Brittani R. Orona (Hupa, Hoopa Valley Tribe) will receive her Ph.D. in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights at University of California, Davis in Spring 2022. She is currently a 2021-2022 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Fellow and will join the American Indian Studies Department at San Diego State University as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2022. Brittani earned her M.A. in Native American Studies from UC Davis, M.A. in Public History from Sacramento State University, and her B.A. in History from Humboldt State University. Her research and teaching focus areas include Indigenous Human Rights, federal Indian Law, Environmental Justice (Indigenous and Native American), Tribal Water Rights, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (Place and Land based learning), Visual Sovereignty, California Indians (History and Politics), Decolonization, and Public History.

Her dissertation to manuscript project focuses on Indigenous environmental justice, visual sovereignty, and water rights on the Klamath River Basin in Northwestern California. In 2002, a massive fish kill led to a concentrated environmental justice movement to remove four dams on the Klamath River Basin that negatively impacted Indigenous relationships to land. The project addresses how environmental policy on the Klamath River Basin relies on narrow definitions of genocide, time, and settler-colonial concepts of ownership to continue Indigenous land dispossession in California. Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk artists and activists work beyond the scope of environmental policy to assert place-based epistemology through trans-Indigenous relationships against the state.

She has received support and funding for her research from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, American Council for Learned Societies, Mellon Public Scholars Program, Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation, and Incomindios, an international Indigenous rights organization. She has published in News from Native California, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, KCET, Northwest Coast Regalia Stories Project, California History Journal (UC Press) with forthcoming book chapters from the University of Utah Press and University of Arizona Press. She currently serves on the boards of Save California Salmon and California Association of Museums (CAM). Brittani is a member of Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), California Indian Studies and Scholars Association (CISSA), Western History Association (WHA), and Native Women’s Collective.

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

Email: Jalvarado4@sdsu.edu
Office: PSFA-162

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.

Spring 2022 Fulbright Scholar 

Lorena Fontaine

Lorena Sekwan Fontaine
SDSU Fulbright Scholar in American Indian Studies, Spring 2022

Email: lfontaine@sdsu.edu
Office: PSFA-338 

Lorena Sekwan Fontaine (BA, LLB, LLM, PhD) is Cree - Anishinaabe and a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, Canada. Dr. Fontaine is Co-Director of the Indigenous Languages Program and an Associate Professor in Human Rights at the University of Winnipeg. She has taught for the First Nations University of Canada and the School of Public Policy Graduate Program at Queens University. Her research includes the legacy of the boarding schools, cultural genocide, and Indigenous language rights

Dr. Fontaine has spoken nationally and internationally and has authored articles on residential school issues and Indigenous language rights in Canada. Her research was presented in a CBC documentary entitled “Undoing Linguicide” which was awarded the 2017 Radio Television Digital News Association Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity, Radio and Network

Recently, she was a co-organizer of an educational forum on the legacy of the residential schools and the Holocaust with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Since 2003, Dr. Fontaine has been an advocate for Indigenous Residential School Survivors as well as their descendants. She was a task force member and contributor to the Assembly of First Nation's Report on Canada's Dispute Resolution Plan to compensate for abuses in Indian Residential Schools. Dr. Fontaine also acted as a legal consultant to the Toronto law firm Thomson, Rogers in a National Class Action on Indigenous Residential schools

Dr. Fontaine was an Equality Rights Panel member for the Court Challenges Program and a National Steering Committee Member for the National Association of Women and the Law. She has also been involved with the Women’s Legal Education and Action fund as a board member and subcommittee member.

Lecturers

Professor Richard Carrico

Richard Carrico

Email: rcarrico@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-323       

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

Email: ccornell@sdsu.edu
Office: Working remotely  

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 Kenneth Dyer-Redner

Kenneth Dyer-Redner

Email: kdyerredner@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-286

Kenneth Dyer-Redner is a lecturer in the American Indian Studies Department at San Diego State University. He is a member of the Paiute-Shoshone Tribe of Fallon, Nevada. Prior to joining SDSU, he taught at the University of Montana in the Native American Studies Department. He received his M.S. in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University in 2017. For his Master’s Thesis project he rode his bicycle approximately 1,000 miles to ten different reservations around Northern Nevada. His thesis project explored themes of land, colonization/decolonization, identity, and the power of stories. As an undergraduate he attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he received his B.A. in English in 2009.

Professor Desmond Hassing

Desmond Hassing

Email: dmhassing@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-338            

An enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a San Diego native, Desmond Hassing is a Ph.D. student in the University of California, San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance. After a long career at Grossmont College, Desmond received a B.A. 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 Ph.D. 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.

Kellen Hernandez

Kellen Hernandez

Email: kmhernandez5@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-323

Kellen M. Hernandez (Luiseño, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians) received his M.B.A. with an emphasis in entrepreneurship & marketing from the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University (SDSU) and graduated cum laude with his B.A. in American Indian Studies from SDSU as well. He is currently a lecturer in both the Department of American Indian Studies and the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at SDSU. His education, research and career focus on the areas of economic development, tribal governmental gaming, federal Indian law, and the Federal Acknowledgement Process.

As a student, Mr. Hernandez was well connected with SDSU’s Native community and served as the President and Vice President of the Native American Student Alliance. He was part of the founding team that launched SDSU’s Elymash Yuuchaap: Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program and worked as a Graduate Student Advisor to mentor and build community at SDSU for Native students. At the University of New Mexico School of Law, he completed the American Indian Law Center’s Pre-Law Summer Institute program and was awarded outstanding student in the Federal Indian Law course.

Mr. Hernandez has built a career with the State of California’s Employment Training Panel (ETP). As a Contract Analyst, he is responsible for negotiating and developing the terms of complex training proposals. Prior to the ETP he worked as a Business Analyst Consultant for the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians Economic Development Corporation (SPEDC) where he reviewed internal business plans that focused on return on investment, marketing strategy, and financial feasibility. In addition, he also developed a comprehensive business and marketing plan for Woods Valley Golf Club after the tribe purchased the property.

Mr. Hernandez is extremely proud of his family, Rebecca Bravo-Hernandez, Ed.D, Kaya, and Kaleo, and is grateful for their support.

Gabriela Kovats

Gabriela Kováts Sánchez, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Advisor for American Indian Studies  (Advising Information)

Email: gkovats@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-286

Gabriela Kováts Sánchez, Ph.D. (she/her/ella/meeña) is the Faculty Scholar for the Native Resource Center at San Diego State University and lecturer and academic adviser for the department of American Indian Studies. Her academic and communal work centers transnational and diasporic Indigeneity that challenges essentialized notions of Latinidad, specifically for Mixtec/Ñuu Savi and Zapotec/Bene Xhon students in California. Dr. Kováts Sánchez focuses on integrating more nuanced and transnational ways to think about Latinx & Indigenous racial, cultural, and linguistic variability within K-12 curriculum & higher education initiatives. This work is deeply tied to her long-time involvement with and for Ñuu Savi communities in California and her own experiences as a Xicana growing up in Guerrero, Mexico and California’s Central Valley.

Linda Locklear

Linda Locklear

Email: llocklear@sdsu.edu
Office: Not teaching during Spring 2022  

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.

Devon Lomayesva

Devon Lee Lomayesva, ESQ.

Email: dlomayesva@sdsu.edu
Office: PSFA-117

Devon Lomayesva (Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel) is currently the owner of Lomayesva Law Corporation, P.C., where she primarily represents the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians as well as other Tribes, in her commitment to preserving the rights of Indian Tribes via the practice of Tribal and Federal Indian law. She is also the Chief Judge of the Intertribal Court of Southern California that serves eleven member tribes and numerous other tribes and tribal organizations throughout southern California and beyond. Devon has also held the positions of Executive Director of California Indian Legal Services, In-House Tribal Attorney for the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, Lecturer at San Diego State University, American Indian Studies Department, and Adjunct Professor at Palomar College. She has also served a four-year term on the Iipay Nation Tribal Council and numerous committee positions. Devon is a co-founder of the American Indian Recruitment Programs, established in 1993. This program is designed to promote positive youth development through education, culture and other positive projects and events. Devon was appointed to the Tribal Court-State Court Forum in 2017, coming together with tribal and state court judges to address areas of mutual concern. Devon is a member of the Native American Lawyers Association of San Diego, the California Indian Law Association, Federal Bar Association and Member of the Santa Ysabel Traditional Gathering Committee. Devon received her B.A. in History from San Diego State University in 1994 and her J.D. from California Western School of Law in 1999. Devon and her husband have three children where they live in French Valley, CA.

Cassady Lynch

Cassady Lynch

Email: clynch2@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-338

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.

Diana Ortiz

Diana Ortiz

Email: dmortiz@sdsu.edu
Office: Prof. Ortiz holds virtual office hours - please email her to make an appointment

Diana Ortiz has been teaching American Indian Studies and American Studies for 15 years. She recently returned to graduate school to be able to teach U.S. History as well. As an instructor of American Indian Studies/American Studies, she tries to incorporate Native narratives, more comprehensive histories, and accurate information to enlighten and inform teaching and learning about Indigenous people and the United States.

Caitlyn Thompson

Caitlyn Thompson, M.F.A.

Email: cthompson2@sdsu.edu
Office: AL-323   

Caitlyn Thompson is a linguist, writer, and lecturer at San Diego State University. She received an M.F.A. in creative writing from San Diego State University, an M.A. in linguistics with a specialization in endangered language documentation and conservation from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and a B.A. in literature with minors in German studies and linguistics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her research interests include documenting and revitalizing endangered Native American languages, as well as working with populations whose languages are endangered in order to help them achieve their goals for their languages and communities. Her teaching interests include rhetoric and writing, literature, Native American history, Native American languages, and endangered languages. She is currently working on documenting various endangered Kumeyaay languages.


For information about faculty job opportunities in the SDSU American Indian Studies Department, visit our Faculty Jobs page.