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Bio:

Caskey Russell is originally from Seattle, Washington.  He’s an enrolled member of the Tlingit tribe of Alaska.  He’s from the eagle moiety, Naasdeidí clan, with roots to the Kóon Hít of the Kooÿu Ḵwáan.  He received his BA and MA in English from Western Washington University, and his PhD from the University of Oregon.  His dissertation examined Tlingit Intellectual Traditions. He’s taught at Iowa State University, is currently an Associate Professor in English and Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wyoming.  His research focuses on Tlingit Studies, sovereignty and civil rights, and critical race theory.

Candidate statement:

I’m thrilled to be nominated for the NAISA council.  I’m currently the Director of American Indian Studies at the University of Wyoming, and associate professor of English and American Indian Studies.  Much of my research is based on my own tribe (Tlingit) and focuses on Alaskan Native sovereignty and civil rights; my main goal in my research is to give indigenous people the tools to counter ideologies of oppression and colonization.  My most recent piece, published February 8th 2017 by the ACLU, interrogated the state sponsored violence I witnessed against indigenous water protectors and their allies at Standing Rock on the night November 20th 2016.

As Director of American Indian Studies at U Wyoming, I spend much of my time on the Wind River Reservation working with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho on important issues such as language revitalization, recruitment and retention, and community engagement with higher education.  Currently, I’m working on a reservation-based bachelor’s degree program that will enable Wind River Reservation students to earn a four year degree while staying on the reservation.  Also, as Director, I organized the 2014 Building Tribal Nations Symposium at the University of Wyoming, and helped organize the 2015 Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium on the Wind River Reservation.  I would love the opportunity to help organize the upcoming NAISA conferences.

In 2013, I was a visiting researcher in the School of Māori and Pacific Development at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.  My time in New Zealand, and in the Yucatan among Mayan communities in 2008/09, has reinforced my desire to see NAISA continue to advocate for inclusivity and interdisciplinarity among all indigenous peoples—and to continue to bring indigenous people together from across the world.  These next four years are going to be difficult for indigenous people in America and around the globe.  Now, more than ever, NAISA will play an important role in working with indigenous communities to do the type of research and coalition building needed to help resist ongoing attacks on indigenous sovereignty.

My main tenet as a council member will be: Indigenous research should derive from and serve the needs of indigenous communities.  I’ve delivered presentations at three NAISA conferences (Athens, Minneapolis, Honolulu) and will be presenting again at the 2017 conference.  I’ve witnessed the amazing growth of NAISA over the past decade and hope, as council member, to help continue that growth and create NAISA’s vision for the next decade.  Gunalchéesh!