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Greetings, AISC community! 

Can a year's beginning be both rocky and hopeful in equal measures? If January was any indication, the answer is clear. Although our colleagues, families, and communities continue to face the challenges created by the rise of the Omicron variant, the AISC has been able to continue to serve as a space for gathering together for learning, support, and inspiration, whether online or in-person. During January, we co-sponsored a wonderful event with the Department of English as part of their Kanner Lecture series and welcomed Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer, musician, and member of Alderville First Nation.

On February 9th, we sponsored a talk by Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow Rodrigo Ranero. Rodrigo is a linguist who talked about his collaborative language documentation project with Indigenous Xinku communities in his native Guatemala. I highlight these two events among the many others as they represent recent partnerships with English and Linguistics, and we look forward to continuing to work with these and other new departments in the future.

In other news, we are getting ready to welcome prospective Indigenous students to UCLA while also helping to plan the American Indian Studies graduation ceremony, continuing our tradition of honoring American Indian graduates. The AISC continues to support numerous grant-funded projects, and we are in the process of seeking new grant opportunities. We hope that you all will be able to join us this month at our events and that you and yours stay safe and hopeful as we head into spring.

Many thanks, 

Erin Debenport
Associate Professor & Vice Chair for Graduate Studies, UCLA Anthropology 
Interim Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center 

🔷Native Bruin Highlight: Past, Present & Emerging 🔷
This February we are highlighting Native Bruin Mattie Kamahana Bassey, from the class of 2011.

Mattie Kamahana Bassey graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in American Indian Studies. She is Kanaka Maoli and Japanese on her mother’s side and Cherokee, German, Irish, and Scottish on her father’s side.
During her time at UCLA, Mattie served in various positions in the American Indian Student Association (AISA), specifically as secretary, treasurer, pow wow director, Youth Conference director, and vice-president. She also worked for Retention of American Indians Now! (RAIN!) as an administrative assistant, peer counseling coordinator, and wellness coordinator.

Upon graduation, Mattie worked in student affairs at UCLA including two years as the RAIN! project director. Since then, she has worked as a property manager in the Bay Area and is currently blessed to be a full-time stay-at-home mom to her three children.

“The greatest lesson I learned from my time at UCLA is that it is a beautiful privilege to serve and work in tribal communities. I know the Creator blesses each of us with unique life experiences and talents that we can use to uplift and strengthen our communities. That joy of serving is something I hope to pass on to my kids.”
Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022 at 2:00pm –3:30pm (PST)
Title of Event: Hawai’i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific

In this Zoom Q&A session, author Nitasha Tamar Sharma will engage in conversation with Prof. Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi (Asian American Studies) and Prof. Kyle Mays (African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History) about her new book, Hawai’i Is My Haven: Race and Indigeneity in the Black Pacific (Duke UP, 2021). Hawaiʻi Is My Haven maps the context and contours of Black life in the Hawaiian Islands. This ethnography emerges from a decade of fieldwork with both Hawaiʻi-raised Black locals and Black transplants who moved to the Islands from North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Sharma highlights the paradox of Hawaiʻi as a multiracial paradise and site of unacknowledged antiBlack racism. While Black culture is ubiquitous here, African-descended people seem invisible. In this formerly sovereign nation structured neither by the US Black/White binary nor the one-drop rule, nonWhite multiracials, including Black Hawaiians and Black Koreans, illustrate the coarticulation and limits of race and the native/settler divide. Despite erasure and racism, nonmilitary Black residents consider Hawaiʻi their haven, describing it as a place to “breathe” that offers the possibility of becoming local. Sharma’s analysis of race, indigeneity, and Asian settler colonialism shifts North American debates in Black and Native studies to the Black Pacific. Hawaiʻi Is My Haven illustrates what the Pacific offers members of the African diaspora and how they in turn illuminate race and racism in “paradise.”
Register Here:
Date: Friday, February 25, 2022 at 11am –12:30pm (PST)
Title of Event: Setter Science and Alien Contact
Join us for a conversation celebrating the publication of AICRJ's special issue on Settler Science, Alien Contact, and Searches for Intelligence.  Featuring author interviews by guest editors David Shorter and Kim TallBear, brief talks by contributors, and a creative reading by Kim TallBear, this event will take you "where few settler academics have gone before." You can read about the history of science, ufology, and space exploration in the context of colonization here—

Register Here:
New! AICRJ on Settler Science and Alien Contact

Last month we announced the publication of a new special AICRJ issue, “Settler Science, Alien Contact and Searches for Intelligence,” guest-edited by David Shorter and Kim TallBear. The issue is accessible online at However, we have learned that due to a paper supply problem, the printed issue will be delayed until early March. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Please mark your calendars for 11 am February 25th to attend a one-of-a-kind Zoom event featuring several special issue contributors, literary readings, and videos! You will find more information in the Events section of this newsletter.
UCLA American Indian Studies Center acknowledges the Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (Los Angeles basin, So. Channel Islands) and is grateful to have the opportunity to work for the taraaxatom (indigenous peoples) in this place. As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders), and ‘eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present, and emerging.

Copyright © 2022 UCLA American Indian Studies Center, All rights reserved.

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