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Greetings, AISC community! 

May has already given us much to celebrate at the AISC. The first weekend of the month saw the return of the UCLA Pow Wow, which had not been held since 2018. The event was organized by members of the American Indian Student Association (AISA), who worked tirelessly to line up sponsors, dancers, and vendors and staff the three-day event, all while juggling their own academic and community responsibilities. Sitting in the bleachers on a breezy Mother's Day morning, watching the dances, I was inspired by the beauty of the dances and sounds of the drumming, but also by the behind-the-scenes dedication of the AISA students. 

Earlier that same eventful week, the UC Chancellor's Office made a historic announcement: in the fall of 2022 the entire UC System is introducing the UC Native American Opportunity Plan. More details will be forthcoming. While we at the AISC and our colleagues in the AIS Interdepartmental Program are still learning more about how this program will be rolled out and administered, we are celebrating this wonderful news and looking forward to welcoming more Native Bruins to campus in the years to come.

In closing, I want to emphasize what both of these events have in common: sustained Native student activism, which has taken place over decades. We at the AISC extend our thanks to current and past Native Bruins (and other students at the other nine UC campuses) for making possible such a monumental May!

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 May we are highlighting Native Bruin James Riding In (Pawnee), class of 1985 and 1991.

James Riding In retired from Arizona State University in May 2021. He received an AA degree in general education from Haskell Indian Junior College (now Haskell Indian Nations University (1974), a baccalaureate in history (1976) and a master’s in American Indian Studies (1985) from Fort Lewis College, and a doctorate in US history from the University of California, Los Angeles (1991).

A founding member of ASU’s American Indian Studies Program, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses about sovereignty, repatriation, sacred place protections, activism, federal Indian law and policy, research paradigms, religious freedom, Indigenous rights, and colonization/decolonization. Riding In’s research spans a variety of topics, including American Indian movements, repatriation, Pawnee history, Indians and the Santa Fe Trail, and negative stereotypes, racism, and cultural and human rights. His studies appear in numerous academic journals and books.

Riding In writes from a perspective that empowers Indian nations, communities, organizations, and peoples in their struggles to overcome the harmful consequences of colonialism. His research privileges oral history and traditional knowledge while promoting community-based research methods that transcend disciplinary boundaries. He is the co-editor of Native Historians Write Back: Decolonizing American Indian History, which challenges non-Indian hegemonic control over American Indian history. He is now writing a book about Pawnee's cultural survival under US colonial domination.

Riding In holds the distinction of being the first president of the American Indian Studies Association and a featured writer of the National Museum of the American Indian writer series. As editor of the Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies from 2005 to 2019, he transformed this periodical into a leading journal about American Indians. He is the founding chair of the Pawnee Nation College’s Board of Trustees. He has spoken about American Indian matters at national and international scholarly meetings, in documentaries, and in newspaper, television, and radio interviews. He served as an expert witness in legal cases about offensive mascots and team names, the desecration of a sacred place in Arizona, and the length of a young Native boy’s hair in Texas
Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 2:30 pm (PST) at Kaufman Hall, Room 200.
Title of Event: Counter Mapping Articulates What is Between.  

We can transcend the boundaries of mapping conventions and share our visions of a righteous world with diverse expressions.  Steppin' into mappings, what is next, requires conjuring the broadest spectrum of imagination, ideas, and perspectives.  Counter mapping is not only about deflating conventions of mapping and confronting the canon of map-making. It is about creating unprecedented maps that set the record straight by inciting motivation in accessible and dramatic ways. 

Date: Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 6PM (PST) 
Title of Event: Saging the World

Register here:

New Documentary Calls Out the Poaching and Cultural Appropriation of White Sage. The film is the focal point of a campaign to deter the global rush on white sage (Salvia apiana), driven by widespread cultural appropriation of smudging.

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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