NAISA Council

NAISA is governed by a constitution and bylaws. The first election of association officers took place in the spring of 2009. Current officers and Councilors are listed below, followed by former officers and Councilors. The Council meets twice a year face-to-face and meets electronically on a monthly basis the other ten months of the year. All meetings during the COVID-19 global pandemic have been held electronically.

Officers – 2022-2023



Sheryl Lightfoot (Anishinaabe), University of British Columbia

Sheryl Lightfoot, who holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, is Anishinaabe, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe, and enrolled at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga, Michigan. In 2018, Dr. Lightfoot was appointed to the role of Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs at the University of British Columbia, a position within the First Nations House of Learning. She is also an Associate Professor in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and the Department of Political Science at UBC.

Dr. Lightfoot is Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, with specialties in Foreign Policy and International Affairs as well as Economic and Community Development. She also has 15 years’ volunteer and contract experience with a number of American Indian tribes and community-based organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, including nine years as Chair of the Board of the American Indian Policy Center, a research and advocacy group.
Her book, Global Indigenous Politics: A Subtle Revolution, was published in May 2016 by Routledge Press in their “Worlding Beyond the West” critical international relations book series.
Dr. Lightfoot has been involved in two major SSHRC-funded research projects. The first, “The Politics of Indigenous Apologies” examines state apologies to Indigenous peoples in multi-national comparative perspective. The second, “Complex Sovereignties: Theory and Practice of Indigenous Self-Determination in Settler States and the International System,” together with Professor David MacDonald of Guelph University, examines assertive, creative and innovative practices of Indigenous self-determination in multi-national, cross-border, and global contexts. Dr. Lightfoot is one of three principles on “Global Challenges to Democracy: Rights, Freedoms and Human Development” funded by a UBC Grant for Catalyzing Research Clusters. Within this cluster, she examines the challenges associated with implementing Indigenous rights in advanced democracies. She is building a university-based research network to support research and advocacy related to Indigenous rights implementation. Other research collaborations include “Transformative Memory: Strengthening an International Network” funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, and another UBC Research Cluster titled “Systematically Identifying, Evaluation and Responding to Environmental Injustices in Canada.”

from the University of British Columbia website



Brendan Hokowhitu (Māori, Ngāti Pūkenga), University of Queensland

Brendan Hokowhitu, PhD, is a Professor of Indigenous Research at the University of Queensland and is affiliated with the Office of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement). He is a greatly respected Indigenous academic and university leader with decades of experience and an extensive media profile in both Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Canada.

He has served as Dean and Professor of Indigenous Studies at both the University of Waikato (Aotearoa) and University of Alberta (Canada) and has held teaching positions at the University of Otago (Aotearoa) and University of Victoria (Canada).
His academic track record includes a range of innovations in course and curriculum design including the development of the ‘Indigenous Canada’ MOOC, which became the largest course in all of Canada, and the creation of an Indigenous Studies PhD at Alberta. He also has an extensive publication record, including as lead editor of the recently published (2021) Routledge Handbook of Critical Indigenous Studies, and has led numerous significant external research grants. Professor Hokowhitu is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His past service to NAISA include terms as President from 2021-2022, President-elect from 2020-2021, and Treasurer from 2009-2012. 

– from the University of Queensland website



Alyssa Mt. Pleasant (Haudenosaunee), Independent scholar

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, PhD, specializes in Native American and Indigenous Studies, with a focus on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her broader teaching and research interests include early American history, American Indian social and intellectual histories; settler colonialism, especially as it relates to legal and educational systems; conceptualizations of space, place, and land tenure in Indian Country; and public history. Her work has or will be published in American Indian Quarterly and several collections of scholarly work. She is revising a manuscript titled, “After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People and the Emergence of U.S. Settler-coloniailsm, 1780-1825.”

Dr. Mt. Pleasant holds a BA in History from Barnard College at Columbia University and a PhD in History and American Indian Studies from Cornell University. She has held faculty positions in the Department of Africana and American Studies at the University of Buffalo and in the American Studies Program of the History Department at Yale University, where she helped build the Native American Studies program.
Prof. Mt. Pleasant has presented her research at numerous scholarly conferences organized by the American Society for Ethnohistory, the American Studies Association, the Bershire Conference on the History of Women, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. She has been invited to speak at historical societies, libraries, museums, high schools, and American Indian cultural resource organizations. Dr. Mt. Pleasant has prior service to NAISA. From 2010 to 2012, she served as co-chair of the host committee for the 2012 NAISA annualconference that drew over 800 scholars to the Mohegan Sun conference center. In 2013 she was elected to a three-year term on the NAISA Council, and was voted by NAISA membership to a three-year term as Secretary, which began in summer 2022.
When she isn’t conducting research, writing, or teaching, Prof. Mt. Pleasant enjoys consulting on museum exhibits and appreciates opportunities to share current scholarship with general audiences. She has been a guest on CNN and her work has been profiled in the New York Times and in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

– from the University of Buffalo website



Kevin Bruyneel, Babson College

Kevin Bruyneel, PhD, is a Professor of Politics at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. His book, Settler Memory: The Disavowal of Indigeneity and the Politics of Race in the United States, was published in the Critical Indigeneities Series of the University of North Carolina Press in 2021. He presently writes on the relationship between race, colonialism, collective memory, and racial capitalism. He has published articles in History & Memory, Settler Colonial Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal, and The Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy. His first book was The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations (2007).

Professor Bruyneel is of settler ancestry, born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. At Babson College, Bruyneel teaches courses in Political Theory, American Politics, Critical Race Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Radical Politics. 

from the Babson College website


Council Members



Kiara Vigil (Dakota, Apache heritage), Amherst College

Kiara Vigil, PhD, is an Associate Professor of American Studies and co-founder of the Native American and Indigenous studies (NAIS) program at Amherst College. Her research interests center on a history of representations of and by Native peoples from the Americas, and in particular concern the turn of the twentieth century moment. Her first book, Indigenous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1880-1930 (2015, Cambridge University Press), examines the cultural production of four prominent Indian intellectuals: Charles Eastman, Carlos Montezuma, Gertrude Bonnin, and Luther Standing Bear within the shifting social and political milieu of the early twentieth century. She identifies this cohort as part of a wider network of Indian people whose work as writers, activists, and performers demand a re-imagining of American history.

Professor Vigil is working on research and writing for her second book, tentatively titled: Natives in Transit: Indian Entertainment, Urban Life, and Activism, 1930-1970. This project considers how from the earliest days of cinema in the United States to more recent works such as Walt Disney’s “Lone Ranger and Tonto” (2013), filmmakers have attempted to represent America through stories of western conquest and development, which has depended upon Native American actors.
Professor Vigil’s current projects are driven both by archival research and questions related to the production of knowledge by academic fields in the context of their origins, as well as how we might use this knowledge today to rethink the category of “Indian” within American society and culture. She aims to highlight the critical necessity of studying American Indian peoples’ past and present within U.S. history to not only complicate what we think we know but to challenge pervasive narratives that have sought to marginalize or diminish contributions by Indigenous peoples and cultures to the modern world.
In 2021, Professor Vigil was awarded a $300,000 grant as part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s prestigious New Directions Fellowship. The funding will enable her to learn, practice, and preserve the endangered language of her ancestors, Dakota, and translate a number of Dakota-language papers and publications in Amherst’s extensive Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection (KWE Collection).


Astri Dankertsen (Sámi), Nord University

Astri Dankertsen, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Nord University in Bodø, Norway. Professor Dankertsen’s research focuses on Sámi, Indigenous and gender issues, youth, northern/circumpolar communities, urban indigenous communities, reconciliation, identity, postcolonial theory, (de)colonial processes, and culture loss, and theories of affect and emotions. Her work is primarily qualitative, focusing on interviews and participant observation. She has been widely published on various issues related to the Indigenous Sámi people. She is inspired by postcolonial, Indigenous, and feminist theorists such as Judith Butler, Diana Mulinari, Sandra Harding, Donna Haraway, Sara Ahmed, Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha, Edward Said, Franz Fanon, Stuart Hall, Rauna Kuokkanen, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, and Chris Andersen.

In January 2022, publisher Berghahn Books released An Urban Future for Sápmi? Indigenous Urbanization in Nordic States and Russia, a collection co-edited by Professor Dankertsen which presents the political and cultural processes that occur within the Indigenous Sámi people of Scandinavia and Russia as they undergo urbanization, and examines how they have retained their sense of history and culture in this new setting.
Professor Dankertsen is currently working on a collaborative project between Nord University, University of Greenland, and Umeå University titled Indigenous homemaking as survivance: Homemaking as cultural resilience to the effects of colonization and assimilation which explores how Sámi and Inuit homemaking as an everyday life practice is a form of cultural resilience after the effects of assimilation, colonization and post-war welfare policies in the Scandinavian countries. She is also a co-researcher on a project, TRiNC: Truth & Reconciliation in the Nordic Countries, which deals with the ongoing and coming Truth/Reconciliation processes in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The project follows the processes from the early idea and establishment phase, over the works of the commissions proper, to the reactions they may create in the Scandinavian societies. 

from Nord University and Danish Institute for International Studies websites



Karyn Recollet (Cree), University of Toronto

Karyn Recollet, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. As an urban Cree scholar/artist/and writer, Professor Recollet’s work focuses on relationality and care as both an analytic and technology for Indigenous movement-based forms of inquiry within urban spaces. Professor Recollet works collaboratively with Indigenous dance-makers and scholars to theorize forms of urban glyphing. Professor Recollet is in conversation with dance choreographers, Black and Indigenous futurist thinkers, and Indigenous and Black geographers as ways to theorize and activate futurist, feminist, celestial, and decolonial land-ing relationships with more-than-human kinships, and each other, and has been widely published on these subjects.

In 2019, Professor Recollet carried out a research project titled, When Future Falls are Imminent: The moves and returns of scoop choreography of the fall, where the professor explored the meanings and experiences of choreographies of the fall embodying a set of relationships to land-ing and falling as ways of being in relation with lands, and each other. The project thought alongside Afrofuturist and Indigenous futurist activators to consider “falls” as a way of land-ing into each other in expansive and fully relational ways. 

from the University of Toronto and Toronto Biennial of Art websites



Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan (Choctaw), Oklahoma State University

Professor Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy and a Professor of Rural Health at Oklahoma State University. Professor Jernigan identifies ways tribal communities can improve the quality and quantity of healthy food available to their citizens. She was featured in the PBS documentary, Blood Sugar Rising.

Professor Jernigan ties the epidemic of diabetes to “removal to reservations, restriction to reservations, not having access to healthy foods, and over time and over generations seeing more and more Native people develop diabetes,” she told Her solution: “taking back our ability to grow our own foods and really indigenizing our own Nations and making them sustainable.” Professor Jernigan works on studies that show if there are health improvements when Native people have access to better and fresher foods. She is widely published in the subjects of her expertise, including in the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Rural Health, and is meeting with other Native groups to learn about their experiences, including an inspiring trip to MA’O Organic Farm in Wai’anae, Hawai’i. 

from diaTribe and PBS websites



Jessica Bissett Perea (Denaʻina), University of California-Davis

Dr. Jessica Bissett Perea is an interdisciplinary musician-scholar whose Indigenous-led and Indigeneity-centered work advances radical and relational ways of being, knowing, and doing to generate more just futures for Indigenous communities. Her current projects include co-directing the “Radical and Relational Approaches to Food Fermentation and Food Security” project, which is supported by an international partnership with researchers from Ilisimatusarfik Kalaallit Nunaat (Nuuk, Greenland), and co-convening an Asia-Pacific Indigenous Studies seminar in partnership with researchers from Universiti Malaya (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

Dr. Bissett Perea’s first book Sound Relations: Native Ways of Doing Music History in Alaska (Oxford University Press, 2021) delves into histories of Inuit musical life in Alaska to amplify the broader significance of sound as integral to Indigenous self-determination and resurgence movements. The book offers relational and radical ways of listening to a vast archive of Inuit presence across a range of genres—from hip hop to Christian hymnody and drumsongs to funk and R&B—to register how a density (not difference) of Indigenous ways of musicking invites readers to listen more critically to and for intersections of music, Indigeneity, and colonialism in the Americas.
Dr. Bissett Perea’s research, teaching, and service priorities are informed by her lived experiences and academic training. She was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and raised on her ancestral Dena’ina homelands 40 miles north in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. She is an enrolled member of the Knik Tribe and a shareholder in Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (an Alaska Native Corporation). Dr. Bissett Perea studied double bass and vocal performance, music education, and history at Central Washington University before pursuing an MA in Music at the University of Nevada, Reno. She completed her PhD in Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles and was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Music at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Bissett Perea’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hellman Fellows Program, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the UC Institute for Research in the Arts, the UC Center for New Racial Studies, the UC Humanities Research Institute, the UC President’s Office, and more. Her innovative research, teaching, and dedication to community outreach were recognized with a 2010 Alaska Native Visionary Award, presented by the Alaska Native Heritage Month committee and board of directors, a 2015 UC Davis Native American Community Honoring, presented by the Native American Culture Days and Powwow Committees, and a 2020 Outstanding Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award from the UC Davis Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. 




Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa), University of Minnesota

Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa), PhD, is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and was born-and-raised in Chamberlain, South Dakota, next to relative Mni Sose (the Missouri River). His nation is the Octet Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation or the Nation of the Seven Council Fires). Dr. Estes holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, and Bachelorʻs and Masterʻs degrees in history from the University of South Dakota and has joined the faculty in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota to begin Fall of 2022. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, Dr. Estes was an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He was an American Democracy Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University in 2017–2018.

Dr. Estes is the author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019). He served as coeditor with Jaskiran Dhillon for the compilation Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), and coauthor with Melanie K. Yazzie, Jennifer Nez Denetdale, and David Correia of Red Nation Rising: From Bordertown Violence to Native Liberation (PM Press, 2021). In 2014, Estes cofounded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization, and he is cohost of The Red Nation podcast. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Intercept, Jacobin, Indian Country TodayHigh Country News, and other publications, and is also part of the collective for Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics. His advocacy and research focus on Indigenous resistance, anti-colonialism, abolition, decolonization, and anti-capitalism.


Aileen Moreton-Robinson, President-elect, 2021-2022

Marisa Duarte, Secretary, 2019-2022

Brendan Hokowhitu, President, 2021-2022

Susan Hill, President, 2020-2021

Shannon Speed, President, 2019-2020

Tsianina Lomawaima, Treasurer, 2018-2021

Aroha Harris, President, 2018-2019

Brenda Child, President, 2017-2018

Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, Secretary, 2017-2019

Jace Weaver, President, 2016-2018

Cedric Woods, Treasurer, 2016-2018

Mark Rifkin, President, 2014-2015

David Chang, Secretary, 2012-2016

Chadwick Allen, President, 2013-2014

Tsianina Lomawaima, President, 2012-2013

Kathryn Shanley, President, 2011-2012

Jean O’Brien, President, 2010-2011

Robert Warrior, President, 2009-2010

Maggie Walter, Secretary, 2009-2012

Brendan Hokowhitu, Treasurer, 2009-2012

Bruce Duthu, Treasurer, 2012-2015


Former Councilors

Leonie Pihama (Māori), 2019-2022

Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante (Mapuche), 2019-2022

Jill Doerfler (White Earth Anishinaabe), 2018-2021

Beth Piatote (Nez Perce), 2018-2021

Troy Storfjell (Sámi), 2017-2020

Chris “Caskey” Russell (Tlingit), 2017-2020

Christine “Tina” Taitano Delisle, 2016-2019

Jean Dennison, 2016-2019

Shannon Speed, 2015-2018

Renae Watchman, 2015-2018

Susan Hill, 2014-2017

Jolan Hsieh, 2014-2017

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, 2013-2016

Leilani Basham, 2013-2016

Aileen Moreton Robinson, 2012-2015

LeAnne Howe, 2012-2015

Daniel Heath Justice, 2011-2014

Jose Antonio Lucero, 2011-2014

Kimberly Tallbear, 2010-2013

Vince Diaz, 2010-2013

Kehaulani Kauanui, 2009-2012

Noenoe Silva, 2009-2012

Alice TePunga Somerville, 2009-2011

Chris Anderson, 2009-2011

Lisa Brooks, 2009-2010

Rob Innes, 2009-2010