NAISA Council

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 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 for the other ten months of the year.

OFFICERS – 2022-2023



SHERYL LIGHTFOOT (Anishinaabe), University of British Columbia
Sheryl Lightfoot, PhD, is Anishinaabe, a citizen of the Lake Superior Band of Ojibwe, enrolled at the Keweenaw Bay Community. She is currently Vice Chair and North American Member on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). She is Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics, and Professor in Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs as well as a faculty associate in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. She is also Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs and is leading the implementation of the 2020 Indigenous Strategic Plan across UBC and directs UBC’s Office of Indigenous Strategic Initiatives.
As one of the world’s experts in global Indigenous politics, Sheryl’s research specializes in complex questions of Indigenous peoples’ rights and how those rights are being claimed and negotiated. Her work explores both practical and theoretical aspects of implementation of Indigenous rights globally as well as in domestic contexts. She is the author of Global Indigenous Politics: A Subtle Revolution as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.
She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Minnesota as well as a master’s degree from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Prior to her academic career, she had fifteen years’ of 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.
As a member of the UN Expert Mechanism Sheryl provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Mechanism also assists Member States in achieving the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is the first Indigenous woman from Canada to be appointed to this prestigious position.


VICENTE M. DIAZ (Pohnpeian/Filipino from Guam), University of Minnesota
Vicente Diaz, PhD, is an interdisciplinary historian and ethnographer, with BA and MA degrees in Political Science from the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa, and a PhD in History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He taught Pacific History and Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam from 1991 to 2001, after which he joined the (now) Dept of American Culture at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. In 2012, he moved to American Indian Studies departments, first at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, then in 2016, at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he currently chairs the department.
Dr. Diaz is of a generation of Islanders who transformed Pacific Islands studies from its Orientalist roots in Area Studies to one centered on Indigenous political, cultural, and intellectual determinations. This generation of Pacific Islander scholars customized interdisciplinary inquiry (anti-disciplinary, when needed) by analyzing the forms and contents of cultural and historical studies with those of Pacific Indigeneity. In Dr. Diaz’s case, he produced academic and public history books, articles, and other media on topics ranging from Indigenous Christianity, political and military histories of Guam, Indigenous sports and masculinity, and politics and poetics of cultural revitalization, notably around traditional outrigger canoe culture and long distance oceanic voyaging, of which he is also a cultural practitioner. The throughline across these topics is the indispensability of Indigeneity – the historical and political claims and conditions of aboriginal belonging, kinship, and reciprocal relationality to place and its other-than-human relatives, best expressed and understood through the Indigenous vernaculars that have proper standing. Here, Indigeneity is both an ontological as well as analytic category.
Moving to Turtle Island did not mean abandoning the Native Pacific, far from it. Rather, it blessed Dr. Diaz with additional materiality to help further expand (and contract, when Indigenous specificity is elided) the institutional and intellectual fields of work and play, centering, for example, Indigeneity’s imperative in emergent forms of critical ethnic studies and transnational American studies, while also customizing critical theory and method in and through the study and application of Indigenous form, content, scope, scale, and modality. Doing Native Pacific Studies in American Indian Studies departments in the U.S. Midwest in particular has allowed Dr. Diaz and his colleagues to imagine and develop forms of global and comparative Native Studies, help grow NAISA, and bridge commitments and accountabilities to local, tribal determinations by juxtaposing their study with analogous Indigenous resurgence from elsewhere.
Dr. Diaz has prior service to NAISA, sitting as an elected Council member from 2010-2013, the highlight of which for him, was co-chairing the committee that researched, developed, and launched the organization’s flagship journal, NAIS. He later served as an editorial board member.


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.


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.




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 a 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.


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.


JESSICA BISSETT PEREA (Denaʻina), University of California-Davis
Jessica Bissett Perea, PhD, 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.


Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Secretary, 2022-2023
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


Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan (Choctaw), 2021-2022
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