Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

The premiere international & interdisciplinary professional organization for scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, and community members interested in all aspects of Indigenous Studies.


Renae Watchman is Diné, originally from Shiprock, NM. She is Tódích'íí'nii (Bitter Water), born for Kinyaa'nii (Towering House). She also has family in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (Tsalagi) through her maternal grandfather. Her paternal grandparents were both from Sheepsprings, NM. Currently, Dr. Watchman is an Associate Professor of English, cross-appointed with Humanities/Indigenous Studies at Mount Royal University, where she teaches North American Indigenous Literatures and Film courses (contemporary, global, and Indigenous). She completed her Ph.D. in the Department of German Studies, jointly with the Graduate Program in Humanities from Stanford University in 2007. Her dissertation was titled "Fictionalizing the Indigenous in German Travel Literature," which examined late 18th and early 19th century scientific texts that muted, ignored, and silenced the Indigenous voice. As such, her work and research interests remain transdisciplinary and include: indigenous feminisms, comparative literature and cultural studies, orality, (post-/neo-) colonialism & decolonizing literature, and the globalization of powwows and powwow phenomena. Dr. Watchman is working on a book manuscript that looks at Indigenous land, landscape and monoliths and their displacement (place and story) in feature films.
In the spring semester of 2014, Dr. Watchman will be teaching a course on folklore and fairy tales. She will introduce students to Indigenous folklore and orality and their transnational influences of, and connection to, the popular Grimm's tales. While the focus of the course evolves around Indigeneity and orality, the course is a unique field school in which Dr. Watchman will end the course by taking students along the famous Fairy Tale road in Germany.

Personal Statement:

Yá'át'ééh! Shi éí Renae Watchman yinishyé. Tódích'íí'nii éínishłị dóó Kinyaa'nii báshíshchíín. Áádóó Tsalagi (Cherokee, Bird clan) éí da shichei dóó Táchii'nii éí da shinálí. Tse'Bit'Ai (Shiprock, NM) déé' íiyisí naashá. Dóó Calgary, Alberta, Canada di shighaan.
Should I be elected to serve for The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, I will continue to advocate for and recruit leadership that exemplifies the diversity of 21st century Indigenous scholars. As a Navajo woman, with a German Studies background, teaching at a Canadian undergraduate institution, with a focus on Indigenous literatures and film, I have unique experiences that continually form my teaching and scholarship. At Mount Royal University (a teaching focused, undergraduate institution) I serve on a number of department and university-wide committees. I am the Chair of the Faculty of Arts Diversity Committee, as well as a committee member of the Mount Royal Faculty Association Diversity Committee. Furthermore, I envision a Center for Indigenous excellence at MRU that I will be advocating for, while also strengthening our (new!) Indigenous Studies minor. Having been a NAISA member since 2009, I have connected with mentors, elders and colleagues, made friendships, and gained knowledge that will help me broaden NAISA's vision to my institution and in Canada at large. My responsibilities as an educator also include the promotion of Indigenous scholars, authors, and student role models. To this end, I am co-organizing an Indigenous Speakers series to be held in the Winter semester 2014, of which has been generously funded by MRU. NAISA has afforded me these opportunities and I would be honored to reciprocate. NAISA's international reputation and growth as a professional organization is one I would humbly, yet actively serve.