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Native American Programs Many Nations. One Community.

CNRC Indigenous Research Conference

10:00 AM – 2:30 PM, March 24, 2023

Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center

Washington State University Pullman


The WSU Center for Native American Research & Collaboration invites you to the first annual Indigenous Research Conference, focusing upon the intersection between Indigenous knowledge, scholarship, and nation building. We look forward to learning from experienced researchers and knowledge keepers and to creating networking opportunities for young scholars and tribal professionals.

KEYNOTE: Dr. Theresa Jean Ambo (Gabrieliño-Tongva), Realizing the Possibilities of Research Partnerships in Nation Building.

Dr. Ambo is an Asst Professor and co-director of the Indigenous Futures Institute at UC San Diego. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from UCLA and is a William T. Grant Scholar, class of 2027. Her primary research examines historical and contemporary relationships between public universities and local Native nations. Currently, she facilitates a community-engaged research project with members of the Kumeyaay Nation, which examines the entanglements of UC San Diego with Indigenous dispossession. Theresa also writes with friends and colleagues about trans-Indigenous education and land acknowledgment practices.

The conference will also feature a poster session, oral presentations, lunch and entertainment, and a student social hour.


30 dollars for faculty, staff, and non-students.
15 dollars graduate students.
No fee for undergraduates.
Registration can be accepted at the door, but food may be limited.





9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Doors open. Light refreshments served.
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Concurrent Oral Presentations in Knowledge Rooms.

Presentation Session One
Moderator: Dr. Stephany RunningHawk Johnson, Oglala Lakota, (WSU College of Ed)

  1. 10:00-10:30: Lotus Norton-Wisla, MLIS (WSU MASC): “The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal: Building Projects within Reciprocal Relationships”
  2. 10:30-11:00: Tony Brave, Lakota/Chippewa-Cree, MPA (WSU DTC): “Playing Indian 2.0”
    In his landmark book Playing Indian (1996), Dakota scholar Philip Deloria theorized and historicized the cultural practice of colonists and settlers of the so-called Americas dressing up as American Indians (i.e., “playing Indian”) throughout key historical periods. Building upon Deloria’s genealogical framework and the fields of game studies and media studies, this presentation explores the history of “playable Indians” (including Indigenous, or tribally-coded playable characters) as technologically-based products and services made for consumer markets from the late 1940s to the 1990s. By tracing the history of the increasingly covert and technologized phenomena of playing Indian, the goal of this poster presentation is to introduce audiences to some ties between the historical developments of electro-mechanical and computing technologies, consumerism, sports entertainment, and the yawning gulf of contemporary settler ignorance around Native American/Indigenous politics.
  3. 11:00-11:30: Kaitlin Srader, Navajo (UW MLIS): “Unwrapping Tribal Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs): Getting Down to the Basics and Process.”
  4. 11:30-12:00: Trevor Bond, PhD; Ila Pinkham, Nez Perce (WSU MASC): “Sharing Nimíipuu Traditional Knowledge on the Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal”
    This session highlights the collaborative work between the Nez Perce Tribe’s Cultural Resources Program and Washington State University to interpret Nez Perce (Nimíipuu ) material culture associated with the 1877 Nez Perce War. The grant team includes WSU students Nakia Cloud, Ila Pinkham, Payton Sobotta who developed video interpretations that incorporate language and archival sources.

Presentation Session Two
Moderator: Dr. Cheryl Ellenwood, Nez Perce/Navajo (WSU PPPA)

  1. 10:00-10:30: Tyron Love, Māori, PhD (U of Canterbury, Visiting Fulbright Scholar): “The Nature of Institutions: A Native New Zealand perspective”
    In Aotearoa (New Zealand) the reporting on state institutions (education, welfare, health, prisons) has been rather negative suggesting organisations, and the broader systems they align with, have become vehicles for producing poor outcomes for people including Māori people (Indigenous New Zealanders). Colonisation has had a powerful affect. To illustrate one institutional element, colonisation sought to structure ‘chaotic’ societies (see Ballara, 1976), including Indigenous society. The way we experience the working day for instance – the rostering of jobs to ensure continuous service to customers, the scheduling of goods to be delivered, the meetings called to set strategies – all speak to the efficiencies and effectiveness commanded by an institutional world determined by speed and productivity as determined by industrialisation, neoliberalism and of time largely determined by clocks and scheduling associated with colonisation. Writing about the education system in Aotearoa, Penetito (2002) argues that it “took on board a set of ‘values’, ‘ideals’ and ‘standards’, more or less coherent with the cultural history of Britain and Europe, that had evolved over several hundred years” (p.90). An important scholarly conversation missing of late has been that surrounding the nature and prospect of Indigenous Māori institutions and the contribution they make to building a strong society for Māori people. Māori have their own institutions collectively called whakanōhanga Māori (Māori cultural institutions) (Durie, 1995). They include such things as marae (meeting places for discussion) (Durie, 1999b; Lambert, 2014; Penetito, 2002), groups such as hapū (kinship groups) and iwi (tribes) (Durie, 1999a), as well as other social structures such as whānau (family) (Lambert, 2014), including processes associated with whāngai (Love, 2000) and Māori marriage (Joseph, 1999). Whakanōhanga Māori connect people to place; wānanga conducted by hapū serve different purposes including to transmit knowledges from generation to generation depending on whenua (lands) and who had mana (authority) over them (Hook, Waaka & Raumati, 2007). Institutions are associated with leaders and prophets such as ariki and rangatira (chiefs, leaders), operated within tikanga Māori and are exercised through Māori constitutional traditions (Jones, 2014; Matike Mai Aotearoa, 2016). If there is an institution which has the greatest strength in determining the future, when we consider the powerful commentaries of Māori writers and thinkers of late, it is undoubtedly land (see Bishop, 2005; Durie, 1985). Land is a crucial institution for Māori health (Durie, 1985, 1995), and for Māori prosperity (Bishop, 2005). Most other institutions, including Māori specific ones, are determined by it. This paper is intended for presentation at the Center for Native American Research & Collaboration (CRNC) Indigenous research conference (March 24, 2023). In the presentation, Māori and colonial institutions will be discussed and critiqued and the presenter will offer a perspective on the nature of institutions reflecting on empirical research with Māori in prisons and universities.
  2. 10:30-11:00:  Kyle Serrott, JD, LLM, MA (WSU American Studies): “Subverting the Court of the Conqueror: Tlingit Resistance in the Alaskan Territory Court System, 1880-1908”
    Using primary source documents, this paper details how Tlingit peoples of Alaska took advantage of the unique legal structure of the Alaska territory judicial system to resist the forced assimilation efforts of the U.S government, particularly the boarding schools. While these efforts proved to be both successful and failures, the three case studies in my paper demonstrate how notions of race and settler citizenship were shaped and determined in the colonial Alaskan courts.
  3. 11:00-11:30: Roger Amerman, Choctaw; Ellen Bishop, PhD; Rich Wandscheider (Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, Consultants to Whitman College): “Hearts to Heads: The scientific value of Nimíipuu ethnogeology”
    Oregon Indigenous stories of landscapes and climate change have long been considered myths by Euro-Americans. But repeated correlation of Indigenous “myths” with scientifically documented events related to climate change, natural disasters indicates that these stories accurately record real events and an acute understanding of landscape history that modern science should embrace. (Bishop, 2014: Baraniuk, 2022; Nunn and Cook, 2022.) For example, the Yakama name for Rattlesnake Mountain—the highest point adjacent to the Yakama and Tri-Cities, Washington basins—is Lalik which means “land above the water.” In 1923 a geologist named J Harlen Bretz proposed that catastrophic Ice Age floods inundated both the Yakama and Tri-Cities basins. However, Yakama and other tribal stories, recorded the occurrence of these floods long before J Harlen Bretz’s insight. Other stores that spring from first-hand observation and experience range from mammoths in the Columbia basin, to occurrence of Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene landslides. It is important to capture and archive these stories, including those related to the use and value of fire, as well as an understanding of geologic features, as Elders are lost and many tribal oral traditions and narratives fade. Our project initially focused on ethno-geology—Indigenous understanding of the landscape’s geologic origin and history. We have expanded it to include the uses and care of fire, the importance and use of plants, and other understandings of the landscape. Sharing these stories with science can convey important information that will help us all understand our landscapes more fully and meet the challenges of climate change.
  4. 11:30-12:00: Joelle Edwards, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, MEd; Tommy Williams, Nez Perce (WSU Native American Programs): “Tokenism and Representation in Academia: Discussion on the pressure of being Native American in higher education settings and how to set healthy boundaries.”

12:00 PM -1:00 PM: Posters and Tabling in Main Room


  1. Landon Charlo, CSKT/Blackfeet, MS (WSU Educational Psychology): “The Indigenous Program Evaluation Framework”
    In recent decades Indigenous Program Evaluation frameworks have been gaining recognition and awareness as a culturally appropriate alternative to mainstream evaluations for Indigenous communities in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (Anderson et al., 2012; LaFrance & Nichols, 2008; Wehipeihana, 2019). Program evaluators have long recognized the need to conduct evaluations that are responsive to participants needs by considering the social, cultural, and historical contexts of programs that determine the development, implementation, and outcomes of an evaluation (Chouinard & Cousins, 2009). Akin to mainstream evaluation, Indigenous Program Evaluation definitions, theory, and practice can vary widely amongst evaluators. These differences may be attributed to distinct Indigenous groups, evaluator methodological preference, funding agency requirements, and country in which the evaluation occurs. Indigenous program evaluation has been described broadly as participatory, culturally responsive, and relevant to community needs. This poster presentation will display how Indigenous Program Evaluation frameworks are conceptualized from the results of a systematic review.
  2. Jacqui Wilson, Yakama, DMA (WSU Music): “Inspired Natives: Recording Works for the Bassoon by Native American Composers”
    “Support Inspired Natives, not ‘Native-Inspired’.” –Louie Gong (Nooksack) Native American and Indigenous composers are often overlooked in the field of Classical music performance and recording projects. Indeed, awareness of these composers appears to be lacking amongst performing Classical musicians, including those who proport to be engaged in repertoire-diversifying efforts. For example, the Institute for Composer Diversity includes only nine Native Americans in their collection of over 1,700 composers. Similarly, No Broken Links includes only three pieces by Native and Indigenous composers in their list of over 480 works for the bassoon. Further, there is a long and ever-present history in Classical music of non-Native composers writing “Native Inspired” works. At the turn of the 20th Century, a group of American composers known as “The Indianists” attempted to create a Nationalist perspective by incorporating melodies collected during the Assimilation Era of Federal Policy into their compositions. This tradition of usurping the Native artistic voice has continued to pervade Classical music composition, most notably in Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.” Works for the Bassoon by Native American Composers stands in oppositional contrast to this history. All pieces featured on the album were composed by Native American people, each representing an original aesthetic point of view. This uniquely decolonized approach serves to promote Indigenous artistic sovereignty and the importance of contemporary self representations of Native people to dismantle Romanticized, monolithic notions of indigeneity. Featured works include pieces by Raven Chacon (Diné), Juantio Becenti (Diné), Connor Chee (Diné), and Louis W. Ballard (Quapaw).
  3. Mariah Brigman, Spokane; Naomi Bender, Quechua PhD, (WSU Native American Health Sciences), PhD (WSU College of Nursing): “Building an academic-community partnership to facilitate federally-funded research in a Tribally-owned clinic”
    American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people are disproportionally affected by chronic pain. Despite growing acceptance of cannabis for pain management, scant research exists to evaluate its palliative effects. A Tribally-owned clinic contacted Washington State University and Northwest Indian College researchers to investigate the use of cannabis as medicine in their community. The goal of this poster is to describe methods used to create, fund, and implement a study developed in partnership with a Northwest Tribe. Methods: Initial meetings included key stakeholders to plan a competitive research proposal for federal funding. The project used decolonization methodologies that prioritized the needs of the tribe. AI/AN health science students and research personnel were recruited to ensure the project maintained an AI/AN-centered approach. Permissions were obtained to designate a single Institutional Review Board and create a data sharing agreement. The Tribe’s legal representation was included to assure that contracts maintained Tribal Sovereignty. Weekly videoconference meetings facilitated team-building while specifying roles and study procedures. Results: Funding was secured from the National Institutes of Health for a 4-year prospective longitudinal observational study. Two in-person meetings joined Western and Eastern Washington team members to foster relationship-building and trust. Implementation of recruitment and data collection began November 2022 with the goal of 350 participants. Qualitative data collection includes interviews structured to center AI/AN voices and experiences. Conclusion: Intentional collaboration between project stakeholders led to successful proposal development and launch of study protocols. In-person meetings allowed for questions and issues to be resolved in real-time. Funding acknowledgement: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health by grant #1S06GM142130-01 (PI: Rasmus) NARCH XI: Association Between Cannabis and Pain Outcomes in a Tribally Operated Clinic.
  4. Roger Amerman, Choctaw; Ellen Bishop, PhD; Rich Wandscheider (Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, Consultants to Whitman College): “EthnoGeology of the Columbia Plateau: Understanding Landscapes through Sahaptain Stories, Language and Use”

12:00 PM -1:00 PM: Lunch in Main Room. Provided.
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM: Keynote Address in Main Room:

-Greeting from WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton, PhD
-Nimíipuu Welcome from WSU Student Sewas Cloud

-Introduction from WSU Vice-Provost for Native American Relations & Programs Zoe Higheagle Strong, Nez Perce, PhD
-Address by Dr. Theresa Ambo (Gabrieliño-Tongva): “Realizing the Possibilities of Research Partnerships in Nation Building”

2:30-3:30: Student Social. Light refreshments served.

Organized by WSU Office of Tribal Relations and Native American Programs.

With support from the WSU Office of Research, the College of Education, the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation, the Center for Arts and Humanities, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the President.


For further information, contact Ken Lokensgard, PhD, Co-Director, Center for Native American Research and Collaboration.


WSU Pullman is located on the homelands of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce Tribe and the Palus people.

See full land acknowledgement.