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News and Events

Fall 2020 Native American Community Reception

Fall 2020 Native American Community Welcome Reception

Friday, August 28

1 p.m. 

Students, faculty, staff and community friends are invited to participate in the Native American Community Welcome Reception, to be held Friday, August 28 at 1 p.m.

Join on Zoom:

          Zoom ID: 99165272386 

2020 Outstanding Graduate Nyla LunaCongratulations to our Outstanding Graduating Senior Nyla Luna

The SDSU American Indian Studies faculty have chose major Nyla Luna (Pala) as the department's Outstanding Graduating Senior for 2020.

Every year, each department selects one of their majors to be recognized as its most "Outstanding Student." As the 2020 American Indian Studies Outstanding Graduate, Nyla was given the opportunity to select one faculty member as her "Most Influential Faculty Member." Nyla selected Dr. Margaret Field for this honor.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, Nyla and Dr. Field will be recognized at a future commencement ceremony. Outstanding Graduates will sit on stage with their designated most influential faculty.

In addition, we will honor them at our 2020 Graduation Ceremony, which we hope to hold this November. We will make more details available about this, as soon as we are able to proceed with planning. We also look forward to celebrating all of our 2019-20 graduating students at the ceremony. We hope you will join us in honoring them!

On Campus Job Opportunities
SDSU Native Resource Center hiring Peer Mentors and Desk Assistants

The Native Resource Center is Hiring Students

The SDSU Native Resource Center is hiring for the 2020-21 academic year (August 2020 through May 2021). Two positions are available:

     --Desk Assistant for the Native Resource Center Office

    --Peer Mentor for the Elymash Yuuchaap program

Applications are due May 22, 2020. Zoom interviews will be conducted after the application period closes. 

Click here to apply for the 2020-21 NRC job openings.

Questions? Contact Chris Medellin, 

Department office to close until further notice 

The SDSU American Indian Studies office will be closed until further notice. If you need assistance, please email      

Changes to planned events 

Due to university directives related to COVID-19 concerns, the following upcoming events have been postponed or canceled:

Youth Empowerment Conference - originally scheduled for Saturday, March 14 - THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED.

Grand Opening of the Native Resource Center - originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 - THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Please check back for updates, or contact us at  

San Diego Art Institute - Call to Artists

SDAI Call for Artists

Artist Application Deadline March 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM (PST) 

The San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) is requesting proposals from Kumeyaay, Luiseño, Cupeño, and Mission indigenous artists who are working in contemporary art for inclusion in Contemporary Indigenous Art: The Pacific Coast exhibition. Two artists will be selected, one to exhibit an existing work and another to receive a commission to create new work.

ABOUT SDI  - The San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) is the premier regional contemporary arts center located in the heart of the historic Balboa Park and serves over 80,000 visitors each year. SDAI reaches communities throughout Southern California and throughout the world due to our regional focus and the global stage that Balboa Park provides. Our mission is to advance regional contemporary art and artists while fostering cultural equity through access to meaningful art experiences. SDAI has been a vibrant element of San Diego’s cultural history for 79 years and is an organization that is inclusive, culturally aware, and emphatic about artistic quality.

CONTEMPORARY INDIGENOUS ART: THE PACIFIC COAST EXHIBITIO -  SDAI is proud to produce Contemporary Indigenous Art: The Pacific Coast which is the first major contemporary art exhibition in San Diego to focus on contemporary indigenous artists and their communities. SDAI recognizes that indigenous peoples the world over continue to play a central role in some of the most important issues of the 21st century including climate change, racial justice, and voting rights. Yet, they are often relegated to the shadows of the past and ignored in contemporary conversations and representation. SDAI is eager to fill that representational gap in Southern California. Contemporary Indigenous Art: The Pacific Coast runs June 13 to November 1, 2020 and is curated by Amber-Dawn Bear Robe (Siksika) who hails from the prestigious Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. This show will feature curated artwork from advanced, mid-career, and rising contemporary indigenous artists from Alaska to Baja California.

The exhibition will reach over 25,000 visitors and offers an unprecedented opportunity to place indigenous artists and their communities on center stage while offering visitors a chance to truly engage with contemporary indigenous cultures. SDAI has already confirmed participation from renowned artists Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit/Unangax̂), Kent Monkman (Cree), Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache), Jamie Okuma (Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock), and Jeffrey Gibson (Choctaw-Cherokee).

Curator’s Statement - The exhibition’s primary concern is examining why people continue to love, demand and desire the invented Hollywood Indian rather than know the history and recognize present realities of Native North America. For this show, artists are asked to offer an alternative view from the Hollywood iconic images with insights focused on the diversity and complexity of Indigeneity and celebration of the indigenous person and communities of today.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES - Artist must be an enrolled member from one of the federally recognized tribes in San Diego County and be working in contemporary art. Artwork submission and commission proposals should represent contemporary art, and artists at all stages of their careers are invited to apply. Submit a complete online application by the deadline, 11:59 PM PST on March 30, 2020.

Requirements for Submission of Commission Proposal - SDAI is offering a $4,000 commission to a single artist to create new work for the exhibition. If awarded, the selected artist will need to create the work and have it ready to be installed by May 30, 2020. The application requires a written proposal of 250 words for the commission and background to demonstrate capacity to fulfill the proposal.

Requirements for Submission of Pre-existing Work - SDAI will provide a $200 stipend to one artist to exhibit existing work in the exhibition. If selected, the work needs to be available for installation as of May 30, 2020 and on view for the duration of the exhibition.

STEPS TO APPLY Complete the online application at the link below by 11:59 PM, March 30, 2020.


Linguist Margaret Field brings Kumeyaay oral histories to life in new trilingual book

SDSU Hires Jacob Alvarado Waipuk as Tribal Liaison

Former SDSU student and current department lecturer Jacob Alvarado Waipuk has been hired by the university to fill the newly-created position of Tribal Liaison. Jacob, who is a San Pasqual Reservation resident and Kumeyaay Nation member, received his undergraduate degree in American Indian Studies from SDSU in 2015, and is in the final stages of completing a joint doctorate at the University of California, San Diego and California State University San Marcos.

In his new role as Chair of Tribal Relations, Jacob will work with Indigenous students, assist with recruitment and mentoring, and will work toward achieving more representation and presence for Native students on the campus. Additionally, he will serve as in-house advisor on Native American issues, providing an opportunity to develop stronger relationships with local tribes. Jacob will also assist with campus efforts to promote land acknowledgment of the Kumeyaay, in support of a resolution unanimously approved by the University Senate in September 2019.

We are delighted that Jacob is serving our campus in this new position. We know he will play a leading role in shaping our responsiveness to the needs our Native American students, faculty and staff on campus, and guiding outreach to develop and strengthen ties with tribes throughout the region.

To learn more about Jacob and his new position, read the recently-published SDSU NewsCenter article.


March 10, 2020
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Room 132, Arts and Letters Building
San Diego State University

Bruker XRF Training - March 10, 2020

The SDSU American Indian Studies Department and the Indigenous Archaeologies and Tribal Research (IATR) Lab will offer a workshop on the use and operation of a Bruker Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (or pXRF) device. Bruker representative, Nathan Davies, will lead the workshop featuring the IATR lab’s instrument, a Bruker’s Tracer 5i. There are many applications of this technology for archaeology, geology, art history, and other disciplines. In archaeology, XRF technology has been used to successfully trace different types of obsidian back to its original source location allowing scholars to discuss the implications of this data on exchange networks and social interactions between different groups of peoples. Other applications include similar elemental analysis of glass beads traded in North America, ceramics, pigments or paints, soils, and other materials.

Space is limited and attendees will be selected on a first-come-first-served basis. However, a slight preference in this selection process will be given to individuals who would like to use the instrument for a specific research project within the next year. We will send out a confirmation of acceptance to attendees on March 3rd, one week before the date of the workshop.

For any questions about this workshop, please contact Kate Regan in the American Indian Studies Department at or 619-594-6991.

You are invited...

Attention - This event has been postponed until further notice


Grand Opening of the SDSU Native Resource Center - March 2, 2020


On behalf of the Native community at San Diego State University, you are cordially invited to the Grand Opening celebration of the brand-new Native Resource Center. (NOTE: This event has been postponed until further notice) . The program will include welcoming statements, a reading of the SDSU Land Acknowledgement followed by Kumeyaay bird songs, a statement by SDSU President Adela de la Torre, and a ribbon cutting. Food and beverages will be available, and the celebration will conclude with viewings of the Native Resource Center. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Chris Medellin
Interim Assistant Director
Native Resource Center Division of Diversity and Innovation
San Diego State University

This event is free and open to the public.

Flyer for Native Resource Grand Opening

The SDSU Department of American Indian Studies presents:


Circe Sturm, Ph.D.


Mon., March 2, at 4:00 p.m., in Templo Mayor in the SDSU Student Union

Dr. Circe SturmDr. Circe Sturm is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin and core faculty in the Native American and Indigenous Studies program. She has spent most of her career trying to understand how Native American individuals and societies come to understand and use categories of sameness and difference, self and other, and how these in turn shape our lived experiences. Her work is situated in the broader, interdisciplinary scholarship on race, sovereignty, citizenship and comparative colonialisms. Her most significant contributions along these lines include two books,  Blood Politics: Race, Culture and Identity in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002) and Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the 21st Century (Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 2011). She is also the editor of “Rethinking Blackness and Indigeneity in the Light of Settler Colonial Theory,” a special issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal forthcoming this spring.

This event is free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by: Native American and Indigenous Faculty and Staff Association, SDSU Black Faculty Staff Association, Black Women in Academia, Center for Intercultural Relations, Native Resource Center, and the Native American Student Alliance. 

Flyer for 2020 Lecture by Circe Sturm

More Information: 619-594-6991 or

2020 NASA Youth Empowerment Conference


NASA Annual Youth Empowerment Conference - March 14, 2020

Haawka (Kumeyaay greeting),

On behalf of the Native American Student Alliance at San Diego State University (SDSU NASA), we would like to invite you to attend our Annual Youth Empowerment Conference on (Date canceled)! We will be proudly hosting this on Kumeyaay Land at San Diego State University. My name is Kenedi Kraten, and I have the honor of serving as the Conference Coordinator for this year's conference. We would appreciate it if you could share this information with any Native American students, families, staff, and/or counselors within San Diego County.

Each year NASA is able to organize a high school conference for Indigenous youth. The theme for this year's conference is "We Are the New Tradition: Empowerment through Education." With current movements towards reclaiming spaces for Indigenous folks, we hope to empower our Indigenous youth to join these movements, and inspire them to create their own.

The purpose of our conference is to unite Indigenous middle school and high school students and involve them in deconstructing the notion that higher education is only pursuable by students from privileged backgrounds. We want every student to be inspired to pursue various paths of education, whether that be through community college, four-year universities, or other outlets of success. We would greatly appreciate it if you can share this conference information with prospective Indigenous youth, because we want to increase our attendance for this year's conference!

While we are always thankful for our supportive community's presence at our events, please note that ONLY Native American and Indigenous identified students (7th-12th grade) may attend the conference and MUST be accompanied by an advisor or chaperone. If you are not a student, please utilize this invitation to spread the word to one who may be interested in joining us. We are also accepting volunteers and workshop presenters too!


We will posting conference updates on our Facebook and Instagram (@SDSUNASA ) If you are interested in volunteering, hosting a workshop, or have any questions or concerns, please email us at

Thank you for your time, we hope to see you at our Annual Youth Empowerment Conference.


Kenedi Kraten (Chippewa Cree)
SDSU NASA Conference Coordinator

Student Jade Johnson

Student Jade Johnson featured in NewsCenter article on research in public health

Jade Johnson (Diné, Deeshchii'nii Clan), was included in a recent SDSU NewsCenter article,  Applying What You Learn – Student Research Opportunities in Public Health.

The article talks about Jade's research in two campus labs - one in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, and the other in the School of Public Health. Jade is a first-year graduate student in environmental health science, studying the removal of contaminants for wastewater recycling. She began doing research in Hoh’s lab as a chemistry undergrad.

To read the article and learn more about Jade and her journey, visit

The SDSU Women's Studies Department presents...

The Trouble with White Women: Alice Fletcher's Settler Feminism: A lecture by Dr. Kyla Schuller

The Trouble with White Women: Alice Fletcher's Settler Feminism by Dr. Kyla Schuller, Rutgers University

Flyer for The Trouble with White Women: Alice Fletcher's Settler Feminism

Archived News and Events: 2019