May 2019 Student Updates

Matt Bowman
Matt Bowman, KU Indigenous Studies Program Class of 2019.I'll be attending The University of Iowa for my Ph.D. in Art History under the tutelage of Joni Kinsey, a scholar of American art who specializes in the American West. I will also work with faculty in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Department to develop Native American art as one of my concentration areas. Additionally, I will serve as a teaching assistant for the Art History Department, as well as a curatorial assistant working on the Eve Drewelowe Collection of early 20th-century American painting housed in The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art. I am grateful for the many wonderful academic opportunities at The University of Kansas that guided me toward this next step in my journey.

Rain Charger
Rain Charger, KU Indigenous Studies Class of 2019.I'm graduating with a master's in Indigenous Studies. While at the University of Kansas, I have greatly contributed to bringing Indigenous research efforts to the forefront of conversations through my filmed podcasts, "Representing Indigeneity at KU." I was the vice president of Graduates United by Indigeneity (GUI) for its inaugural year, a HASTAC Scholar from 2017-2019, and was chosen as a summer intern for the American Indian Health Research and Education Alliance (AIHREA).

Tobin Jennings
Tobin Jennings, KU Indigenous Studies Program master's student.I am a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Indigenous Studies with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. While issues faced by Indigenous peoples worldwide are of interest to me, as well as protests and movements in response to these issues, I mainly focus broadly on Latin America and, more specifically, on Central America. On two occasions I have traveled to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras as a participant in KU’s Sustainable Development Field School in Partnership with the Ch’orti’ Maya where we interacted with various local organizations raising awareness of Indigenous concerns such as land rights, health, education, and development. We were also able to help facilitate a cultural fair on both occasions in order to share Ch’orti’ history and culture with Maya and non-Maya alike.

As a recent recipient of a FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellowship, I now have the opportunity to dedicate more time to school and learning Kaqchikel Maya with the plan of returning to Guatemala next summer to continue my language studies, and hopefully engage in applied fieldwork of some kind. My interests are multifaceted and transdisciplinary, but I would like to know more about the intersection between visibility and autonomy among Indigenous communities, small everyday forms of protest, the commodification of social life, and what decommodified spaces might look like, as well as the interplay between these spaces and concepts such as spontaneity and happiness. Ultimately, I would like my research to amplify the voices of communities with which I work and to support their autonomy in a self-sustaining way.

Shane Lynch
Shane Lynch, KU Indigenous Studies Class of 2019.I'm graduating with a master's in Indigenous Studies, and I've been accepted into the University of Kansas American Studies Department's Ph.D. program. I will continue researching decolonization, Indigenous Digital Humanities, and Indigenous Intellectualism. 




Tweesna Rose Mills
Tweesna Rose Mills, KU Indigenous Studies Class of 2019.I'm from the Eastern Shoshone-Yakama-Umatilla Nations and am a second-year graduate student in the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Kansas. My research centers on my thesis: Sustaining Salmon, and Our Way of Life through Sovereignty, Activism and Culture. This entails various ways of storytelling, including Digital Humanities to incorporate Indigenous thought, knowledge and theory. I am the founder and president of Graduates United by Indigeneity, an organization on campus that promotes, enhances and encourages Indigenous scholarship through conferences, workshops and seminars. I also received a 2019 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for spring and summer semesters, where I'm learning Kaqchikel Maya and will be attending summer school in Antigua, Guatemala, to immerse myself in the language and culture. My main objective is to create a documentary series that would allow an Indigenous narrative to the histories of Indigenous people called, “R History: Real History from the Indigenous Perspective.”

I will graduate in Summer 2019 in Indigenous Studies and continue in the fall in the Film and Media Studies Department at the University of Kansas. ​

Kaitlin Stanley
Kaitlin Stanley, KU Indigenous Studies graduate certificate graduate.I'm graduating with a master's in Anthropology and a graduate certificate in Indigenous Studies. I've received the Hall Center for Humanities Fellowship, working with the Lawrence Public Library to archive digital histories. I'll continue as the public engagement and programs assistant at the Watkins Museum of History, too.  



Sierra Watt
Sierra Watt, master's student in Indigenous Studies, was awarded Wilma Mankiller Tribal Governance and Cobel Summer Research Fellowships.I am a master's student in ISP as well as a Ph.D. student in Political Science & Government. I have been awarded a Wilma Mankiller Fellowship for Tribal Policy and Governance for 2019-2020 with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

I've also been selected as a Cobell Summer Research Fellow. This fellowship will help fund some of the research for my dissertation. My dissertation takes the first national look at women and the gender gap within the 567 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2017, women constituted over 25% of tribal executive leaders. This rate is high compared to the number of women in state executive government for the same time frame. Despite the growing number of women elected to tribal political office and the growing research in the areas of women in politics and tribal governance separately, there is little research on gender within tribal politics specifically. To address this gap in scholarship, my dissertation addresses the descriptive representation of women within tribal governments. Descriptive representation, or where we see women elected to political office, constitutes the first step in researching gender within tribal governments.

This study offers important information on the way that traditional political science gender theory explains—and fails to explain—the politics of Native American women in contemporary tribal governments. This project, by contributing to the multiple fields of political science, indigenous studies, and feminist theory, fills a unique gap in interdisciplinary scholarship. Finally, the study shows the political work women are currently doing within their tribes and will perhaps encourage future women to enter tribal government. This project will increase the visibility of strong Native American women in politics across the country.

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