Profiles of Our Graduates

Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin, PhD Indigenous Studies 2017

Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin received her doctorate in Indigenous Studies from UAF in May 2017. She is of Lakota, Nakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Mayan descent on her mother's side, and Cherokee, Choctaw and Scottish descent on her father's side. Dr. Collin acknowledges the Native Elders, equine preservationists, and the ancient-line horses she caretakes as having helped to provide the “indigenous education” she received during her decade of pre-research. She credits her Doctorate Committee, professors, and UAF staff for providing the culturally respectful educational environment and curriculum that she needed to successfully conduct the Western academic portion of her research.

Her experience merging these two distinctly different educational approaches solidified her belief that combining Indigenous traditional knowledge systems with the best of Western academic scholarship is the key to creating an inclusive and sustainable educational model. This approach will result in more accurate scholarship that is free of Eurocentric bias, and it offers a path to true compassion and wisdom. Such a system has the power to ensure a healthy future for the next seven generations.

This bifurcated approach led to the creation of her dissertation titled: The Relationship Between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Horse: Deconstructing a Eurocentric Myth. In this work, Dr. Collin deconstructed Western academia’s version of the history of the horse in the Americas, and reconstructed it to include: cross-cultural translation, the TK of many Indigenous Peoples, Western scientific evidence that did not support the dominant cultural claim, and historical records. This dissertation proves that data from the latest Western technology combined with information from our Indigenous Peoples has the power to reconstruct more accurate and unbiased histories.

Today, Dr. Collin and her family manage Sacred Way Sanctuary (SWS), a research and educational facility located in Florence, Alabama that focuses on the following: preserving the Ancient Horse of the Americas; sponsoring cutting-edge Western scientific research; providing top-quality education on local Native heritage; offering a foundation for youth/elder traditional knowledge exchange; and creating an indigenous learning experience for those who visit. Sacred Way Sanctuary is an official interpretive center for the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area and the National Park Service. Dr. Collin is also a founding member of the Native American Horse Trail, which links like-minded horse preserves across the United States to present a more accurate history of the horse in the Americas, as well as introduce the public to Americas ancient horses.

Dr. Collin is currently the Executive Director of Sacred Healing Circle, a non-profit organization that focuses on healing Native individuals and communities. In this capacity, she works closely with Native Elders and Youth for the preservation and protection of traditional knowledge systems, sacred sites, and ceremonial and spiritual ways of knowing. She also proudly serves as part of the Administrative Team for the Black Hills Sioux Nation Council of Elders, which is centered on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. All of her present work is focused on correcting inaccurate portrayals of Native Peoples, freeing sacred sites from the prisons in which they are currently held (due to improper “management” by the dominant Western culture), and helping Indigenous Elders to safely transmit their traditional knowledge to youth who are prepared to receive it.

Dr. Running Horse Collin is an award-winning journalist, and has held various executive positions at non-profit institutions around the United States. She has advised state, federal and Fortune 100 organizations on Native American policy. She lectures extensively throughout the United States and internationally on her people’s traditions and the history surrounding the horse. Dr. Running Horse Collin has presented at conferences such as: The World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE), the Canadian Indigenous/Native Studies Association (CINSA), the Alaska Native Studies Conference, and Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s Prophecy of the Grandfather’s Conference, as well as for American Indian-themed forums hosted by private organizations, educational institutions, and state and federal governments. She practices the traditional ways of her Ancestors and is a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Sacred Way Sanctuary:

Sacred Healing Circle:

(Elder and Youth work) “Earth Mother Protection Movement” Video:

The Relationship Between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Horse: Deconstructing a Eurocentric Myth

Dr. Jacqueline Rahm, PhD Indigenous Studies 2014

Dr. Jacqueline Rahm is a therapist with Family Centered Services of Alaska – Residential Treatment Center and is developing the Cultural Pathways program for youth with mental and behavioral health and substance abuse issues. The purpose of the program is to give equal voice for indigenous approaches to healing and wellness within the clinical setting. Jackie received her masters in community psychology and her doctorate in Indigenous Studies from UAF in 2014. Her interest in traditional ways of healing began in Nepal where she lived as a Peace Corps volunteer after completing her BA in psychology from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. Her masters work took her back to Nepal and the spirit of a land and peoples that has had a profound effect on her worldview. For her research, she was fortunate to explore Indigenous Psychologies of Nepal and the Use of Traditional Healing Systems. Afterward, she worked in both the educational and mental health systems, but felt restricted by the institutionalized approaches to learning and wellness. She returned to UAF and pursed her doctoral work on Deconstructing the Western Worldview: Toward the Repatriation and Indigenization of Wellness. Through this work, she found her way back to her own ancestral roots and found that ancient traditions of Europe, particularly those of the Mediterranean region, shared more in common with indigenous cultures of the western hemisphere than they do with the modern-day western worldview. Her research tracked the West’s loss of their ancient spirituality to the European settlers’ arrival on the shores of this continent. It proposes that this original trauma is at the root of the West’s perpetration of the atrocities against indigenous peoples for over 500 years.
Equipped with a better understanding of why the West has done and continues to do what it does, Jackie returned to the RTC, where she had worked previously, with a renewed commitment to Alaska’s youth. As there is little evidence-based research that mental health services are effective for Native peoples, she feels it incumbent upon western systems to integrate indigenous perspectives, worldviews, practices, languages, etc. into these settings. This is her current focus as well as her family, meditation and Ashtanga yoga practices, and participation in Lakota ceremony as invited.  

Dr. Sean Asiqłuq Topkok, PhD Indigenous Studies 2015

Dr. Sean Asiqłuq Topkok is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His family comes from the Seward Peninsula in Igloo and Teller, Alaska, and is Iñupiaq, Sámi, Irish, and Norwegian. He began his career in Alaska Native education since 1987, working in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Dr. Topkok is the leader of the Pavva Iñupiaq Dancers of Fairbanks founded in 1999, a local community dance group inviting Native and non-Native people interested Iñupiaq dance, cultural heritage, and cultural values. He received his B.A. in Humanities, M.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, and Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies – all from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His dissertation was entitled: Iñupiat Ilitqusiat: Inner Views of Our Iñupiaq Values. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed academic articles and chapters focusing on Indigenous values, methodologies, and well-being. Dr. Topkok presents worldwide about his academic research and has given a Tedx Talk about Iñupiaq Stories: Past, Present, and Future. He has been a keynote and plenary speaker at several conferences. He works closely with the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies as an Indigenous education faculty member. Dr. Topkok is active in various Indigenous organizations and research at the local, national, and international level. He is the chair for UAF’s Graduate Advisory and Academic Committee and Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Native Education. He is one of the co-chairs for the Alaska Native Studies Council and serves on the University of Alaska Teacher Education Council. He serves on the Alaska Board for the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium and collaborates with various international universities for UArctic Thematic Networks.

Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John, PhD Indigenous Studies 2010

Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was raised in a large family in the traditional Yup’ik lifestyle in the village of Toksook Bay in Southwest Alaska. These early life grounded her in Indigenous cultural principles and values and knowledge systems, which has shaped both her personal and academic life. As an advocate for Native education, she is highly involved in various organizations and projects that promote traditional Native culture, history, rituals and ceremonials, spirituality, language and education.
Dr. John received her B.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her thesis was titled:  Yuraryararput Kangiit-llu: Our Ways of Dance and Their Meanings.   She has authored numerous academic articles and a co-author of a book Yupiit Yuraryarait: Yup’ik Ways of Dancing and has presented her work at dozens of local, national, and international professional conferences. Dr. John currently serves on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education and the International Indigenous Women’s Forum. She is a former member of the Alaskan State Council Arts and the former Chair of the Traditional Native Arts Panel. She is also the recipient of the Governor's Distinguished Humanities Educator Award and Alaska State Library Award.
National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE)
President Obama appointed me to serve on NACIE in 2011.
The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) is authorized by section 7141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), 20 U.S.C. 7471; and governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 U.S.C. App. II.
The fifteen NACIE members are appointed by the President and serve with the following purpose and functions: To advise the Secretary of Education (Secretary) concerning the funding and administration (including the development of regulations and administrative policies and practices) of any program, including any program established under Title VII, part A of the ESEA, with respect to which the Secretary has jurisdiction and that includes Indian children or adults as participants or that may benefit Indian children or adults.
White House is planning the next NACIE meeting for January 2018.

Dr. Pearl Kiyawn Brower, PhD Indigenous Studies 2016

B.A. Anthropology and B.A. Alaska Native Studies from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004.  Masters in Alaska Native and Rural Development from University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010.  Ph.D. in Indigenous Studies, with an emphasis in Indigenous Leadership from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, of May 2016.

Dr. Brower is currently the President of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only Tribal College.  She has been with the College since 2007 working in External Relations, Institutional Advancement, Student Services, and Marketing.  She has served as President since 2012.  Prior to working for the College Dr. Brower managed an education and culture grant for the North Slope Borough for three years and worked as the Museum Curator of the Iñupiat Heritage Center.

Dr. Brower grew up in both Barrow, Alaska and in northern California practicing a subsistence lifestyle in both areas.  She has a daughter, Isla, who is 5 and along with her husband, Jesse Darling, lives in Barrow, Alaska where she loves to be close to her culture and community.  Brower was named one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2015.

Brower is active in her community in Barrow, on the North Slope and statewide.  She is Board Member of the Friends of Tuzzy Library and is a co-founder of Leadership:Barrow.  She serves on the Wells Fargo Community Advisory Board, serves as the Vocational/Tribal representative on the Alaska Postsecondary Access and Completion Network, serves on the Alaska Airlines Community Advisory Board, on the Foraker Group’s Operations Board, and as a Commissioner for the State of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education.   

Dr. Richard Hum, PhD Interdisciplinary Studies 2017

Rich has a diverse educational and professional background. He is from California, lived all over the Western United States, and has called both rural and urban Alaska his home for the past twenty years. He holds an M.A. in Networked Communication, a B.S. in Earth Science, and an interdisciplinary P.h.D focused on cross-cultural communication around environmental change issues. Professionally he has extensive experience in online education- specifically in development and delivery of mixed face-to-face and at-distance content. His research reflects this diverse background and utilizes mixed qualitative and quantitative methodologies to explore social ecological, or environmental, systems.
By attempting to more fully understand the processes of cross-cultural communication and institutional, or organizational, reform, Richard’s work advocates for greater Urban-Rural communication in times of rapid environmental change. More generally, his research is focused on understanding spatially grounded communication networks in order to maintain cultural diversity while increasing connectivity and improving community well-being and self-reliance during times of rapid social-ecological change. In whimsical terms, he is interested in anything to do with how people interact and communicate with the environments they inhabit.
Check out this VoiceThread introduction to his work.
Courses Taught for Cross-Cultural Studies:
CCS 690: International Seminar in Indigenous Education
CCS 693: Talking in Circles-- cross cultural communication in the age of social media
(an Introductory VoiceThread)
CCS 693: Network Weaving: Moving research to practice for community wellbeing
CCS 492: Comparative Food Systems

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