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Dear AISC friends and family,

Chokma! As we approach the fall semester and a partial return to campus, we are excited to see students, friends, and colleagues in person once again, even as we remain cautious and vigilant about the ongoing pandemic. Our AISC programming will remain virtual for the fall quarter, and we are still evaluating whether we will be able to reinitiate some in-person programming in the winter and spring quarters. Please see below our  upcoming events.  

In other Center news, our beloved MSO Jamie Chan will be on leave from September 20 to January 1, as she and her husband Daniel welcome their first child into the world. And more happy news, our wonderful Associate Director Erin Debenport has agreed to serve as Interim Director in the winter and spring quarters, as I will be on research sabbatical. The Center will be open five days a week, from 10 am until 4 pm, with the staff working a hybrid remote and in-person schedule. 

Looking forward to seeing you all soon, in person, or on Zoom!
Chinchokma’nihookmano anhili,
Dr. Shannon Speed (Chickasaw)
Director, American Indian Studies Center
🔷Native Bruin Highlight: Past, Present & Emerging 🔷
This September we are highlighting Native Bruin Elizabeth FastHorse, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, A 2011, 2014, 2018 graduate and current PhD UCLA Native Bruin.

Miiyuyam! Notung Elizabeth FastHorse. Noon Payomkawish. Nopiiwin Wa$xayam.

Elizabeth FastHorse is a tribal member from the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. She grew up on the Rincon Indian Reservation with her grandmother and two siblings.

Elizabeth’s educational journey began at the mission school on the Pala Indian Reservation and then eventually she attended St. Katherine’s Indian Boarding School in Santa Fe, New Mexico for her high school years. Her time at St. Katherine’s was cut short due to her grandmother passing away and she had to move to Los Angeles to live with her mother and the rest of her siblings. Elizabeth later graduated from Bell High School and went to college for a few years but eventually stopped. She returned to college in 2004 at Rio Hondo Community College and graduated an honors student in 2008.

Elizabeth was accepted to UCLA the same year and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2011 in American Indian Studies (AIS) and then a master’s in American Indian Studies in 2014. She applied for another graduate program at UCLA in Education and earned her second master’s degree in Social Research Methodology in 2018. In the same year she was accepted into the Social Sciences and Comparative Education Doctoral program and is currently a fifth year PhD student. Elizabeth never dreamed she would attend graduate school, much less earn a PhD. Her dissertation work will focus on the Luiseño youth from Rincon who participate in the Rincon Youth Storytellers and how they share their knowledge of language and culture in their contemporary lives.

As an undergraduate, she participated in leadership with the American Indian Student Association and held positions as vice-president, retention coordinator, and powwow director. As a graduate student, she currently belongs to the American Indian Graduate Student Association and holds the position of community representative for the AIS Interdepartmental Program. In addition, she served as co-president of the American Indian Alumni Association.

“One thing I can honestly say is, ‘don’t give up’—it does not matter your age because we never stop learning!” My time at UCLA has given me courage, tenacity, focus, vision and the knowledge that I do belong at UCLA. I am grateful for support from my peers, my professors, and staff in the American Indian Studies Center and those in the AIS-IDP program who believed in me and gave me encouragement to keep going forward. Go Native Bruins!”
UCLA American Indian Student Association News 

On August 26–28 the American Indian Student Association and the Pacific Islander Student Association Executive Boards hosted a Cultural Leadership Retreat on Serrano Lands (Big Bear, California). After a year and a half of online instruction, thesecommunities joined together in a safe space to reflect on the past year and set goals for the upcoming academic year. The retreat focused on mental health workshops, prayer and talking circles, event planning, and bonding. 

This event was successful in bringing the two communities together and starting a strong foundation for the transition back to in-person and on-campus instruction. Both boards have been trained on their position duties and are ready to have an amazing year. 


SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 - 3:00 - 4:00 PM (PST)


California Native American Day is celebrated each year on the fourth Friday of September. This state holiday serves not only to recognize tribal people, but also to teach about California tribal cultures, histories and heritage. UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center is delighted to commemorate California Native American Day by hosting a Zoom poetry event featuring local tribal poets: Melissa Leal from the Ohlone tribe and Tabitha Whiple from the Mono/Maidu/Wailakie tribes. Each poet will share knowledge of their language, culture and traditional life of contemporary California Native women. They will discuss issues facing their communities, as well as the perseverance of their cultures.



Copyright © 2021 UCLA American Indian Studies Center, All rights reserved.

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