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PhD in Indigenous Studies Graduates

John Pennington
PhD. Indigenous Studies
B.S., California Coast University, 2001; M.A., American Military University, 2012
This dissertation explores the role and impacts of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) on Alaska Natives when federal disasters occur, along with the potential long-term consequences for government-to-government relationships between Alaska Tribes and the United States, specifically FEMA.
Major professors: Dr. Richard Hum and Dr. Cameron Carlson
Olga Jennifer Skinner
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies
B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1998; M.Ed., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2009.
Thesis: The STEM Trail: Alaska Native Undergraduates Find the Right Path in Higher Education
This research explores decision-making of Alaska Native undergraduates pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. Using participant observation, this research explores the Indigenous metaphor of "the trail" to frame student persistence. Participants represented various STEM fields and Alaska Native cultures, and shared their motivations and aspirations through interviews and photographs.
Major Professors: Dr. Beth Leonard and Dr. Maria Williams

Angela Lunda
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies
B.S., University of Washington, 1979; M.Ed., University of Alaska Anchorage, 2003; Ed Leadership: Superintendent Certificate, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015.
Thesis: I’m a killer whale: The process of cultural identity development from the perspectives of young Indigenous children
The phenomenon of cultural identity development was investigated using video collected by children wearing forehead cameras as they engaged in activities on the Land. Children demonstrated their Indigenous identities by exhibiting intricate knowledge of the Land, subsistence practices, and core cultural values, with support from peers, teachers, parents, and communities.
Major Professors: Dr. Theresa John and Dr. Carie Green

Lyla June Johnston
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Stanford University, 2012; M.A., University of New Mexico, 2017
The elements of earth, water, fire, and air were explored to analyze Indigenous soil management, Indigenous aquaculture, anthropogenic fire, and oral accounts from contemporary Indigenous land managers, respectively.
Major professors: Dr. Jessica Black and Dr. Gregory Cajete  
Davita Aphrodite-Lee Marsden Giniw’Waabi ‘To See Like a Golden Eagle’ 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.F.A., University of British Columbia, 2002; B.Ed., Simon Fraser University, 2004; M.Ed., University of British Columbia, 2010. 
Thesis: The Sound of 1001 Indigenous Drums: The Catalytic Cycle of Fire Eagle, Golden Eagle, Thunderbird 
This dissertation addresses how integration of Indigenous culture in public school curricula supports success of urban Indigenous students. Drawing on students’ artwork stories, the dissertation investigates how the adoption of Indigenous drumming and singing in classrooms contributes to student success. The study aligns with evidence-based approaches and quantification of learning. 
Major Professor: Dr. Sean Asikłuk Topkok

Charlene Aqpik Apok 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Washington, 2013; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2016. 
Thesis: Alaska Native Men’s Voices: Tracking Masculinities through Indigenous Gender Constructs 
The Alaska Native Men’s Voices project made visible experiences of what it means to identify as an Indigenous male. Illumination of Indigenous gender knowledge systems contributes to Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. Findings articulated holistic notions of health and well-being for future generations. 
Major Professor: Dr. Sean Asikłuk Topkok

Margaret Susan Draskovich Mete
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
Thesis: Celebrating Alutiiq Cultural Revitalization: Pathways to Holistic Individual Health and Community Wellness
The intention of this research is to explore the importance of promoting balanced holistic health care at a deeper and more essential level in order to address root causes, accessed through communication with the natural and spiritual realms, versus merely treating the physical expressions of illness.
Major Professor: Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John
Liza Marie Mack 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Idaho State University, 2005; M.S., Idaho State University, 2009. 
Thesis: Unangam Unikangis: Aleut Stories of Leadership and Knowing 
This dissertation uses participant observation, critical case studies, key informant interviews and a survey of Aleut leaders to illustrate the ways Aleut people know and understand their environment and the ways they address natural resource management issues. It highlights the dynamic leadership of Unangan in two Eastern Aleutian communities. 
Major Professors: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt and Dr. Courtney Carothers

Heather Sauyaq Jean Gordon 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Redlands, 2007; M.S., University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2014. 
Thesis: Self-Determination, Sustainability, and Wellbeing in the Alaska Native Community of Ninilchik 
In this project, the researcher worked with the Ninilchik Village Tribe of Ninilchik, Alaska, to explore how community members utilize self-determination to achieve individual, community, and tribal sustainability and well-being. This project used the method of ethnographic futures research to conduct scenarios about the future. 
Major Professors: Dr. Michael Koskey and Dr. Sean Asikłuk Topkok

Kitty L. Deal 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.S., The University of Alabama, 1983; M.S., San Francisco State University, 1993. 
Thesis: Qik’rtam Litnauwistai (Island’s Teachers) 
Qik’rtam Litnauwistai (Island’s Teachers) was a multitiered, community-based, participatory action research project to examine the institutional practices and teacher education program at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Kodiak College. This focus on recruiting and retaining pre-service teachers addressed the need to “grow our own” educators, especially Alutiiq educators, for Kodiak Island. 
Major Professor: Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard

Sharon Guenther Lind
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
Thesis: Definitions of Success for Alaska Native Corporations
While the design of the corporation is rooted in the individualistic values of Western societies, the Alaska Native corporate foundation is built upon the Indigenous values of the communal societies they serve.
Major Professors: Dr. Michael Koskey and Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard
Charleen Fisher
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1991; M.Ed., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004. 
Thesis: Diideets’ii in Our Pathway (In Our Future): Gwich’in Educational Philosophy and Transformative Praxis in K-12 Education 
Gwich’in pedagogy is largely undocumented in Western academia. Gwich’in epistemology crosses the usual segmented knowledge genres, and intergenerational transmission of Gwich’in knowledge occurs in many places, particularly the natural environment. Complex, relational, place-based, holistic, cooperative, purposeful and subjective, Gwich’in pedagogy emphasizes contextuality, important for both the communal and personal journey. 
Major Professor: Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard

Lexie Tom 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Western Washington University, 2011; M.P.A., Evergreen State College, 2014. 
Thesis: An Indigenous Teacher Preparation Framework 
An Indigenous Teacher Preparation Framework was created at Northwest Indian College as a result of this research. An Indigenous paradigm was used to design this qualitative research project. This framework, along with the teacher competencies and methods of measurement, aligns with the college’s overall vision of indigenizing institutional systems. 
Major Professor: Dr. Theresa Arevgaq John

Charlene Barbara Stern 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Western Washington University, 2002; M.A., University of New Mexico, 2005. 
Thesis: From Camps to Communities: Neets’ąįį Gwich’in Planning and Development in a Pre- and Post-settlement Context 
This dissertation focused on the Neets’ąįį Gwich’in and their experiences with planning and development in a pre- and post-settlement context. Planning ahead, being prepared and adapting to changing conditions were key strategies that enabled the Neets’ąįį to survive across generations in one of the harshest climates in the world. 
Major Professors: Dr. Michael Koskey and Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard

Alberta J. Jones
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
Thesis: Alaska Native Scholars: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Factors Influencing PhD Attainment
This study entitled, "Alaska Native Scholars: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Factors Influencing PhD Attainment," investigates the contributing factors influencing the attainment of PhD degrees by Alaska Natives.
Major Professors: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt and Dr. Amy Vinlove

Polly E. Hyslop 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1990; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2013. 
Thesis: Circle Peacemaking in Kake, Alaska: A Case Study of Indigenous Planning and Dispute Systems Design 
Circle peacemaking is a restorative practice designed by the people of Kake, a Tlingit community in Southeast Alaska. Based on local values, ancient laws and traditional knowledge, circle peacemaking has lowered the recidivism rate for wrongdoers in the community and pays close attention to the needs of the victims. 
Major Professors: Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard and Dr. Brian Jarrett

Dan Ho 
Ph.D.  Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Roosevelt University, 1988; M.A., University of Guam, 2014. 
Thesis: Fa’ñague: A Chamorro Epistemology of Post-life Communication 
This analysis of the spiritual aspect of Chamorro cosmology known as fa’ñague (visitations from the deceased) shed light on how and why it exists in Guam, and how it differs among Chamorro Natives who experience it on the island and abroad. 
Major Professors: Dr. Michael Koskey and Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard
Yvette Running Horse Collin
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., John Hopkins University, 1996; M.A., New York University, 2000.
Thesis: The Relationship Between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Horse: Deconstructing a Eurocentric Myth
This project deconstructs the history of the horse and its relationship with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Critical Indigenous research methodologies and grounded theory are utilized in tandem to reconstruct this history to include cross-cultural translation, the traditional knowledge of many Indigenous peoples, Western scientific evidence, and historical records.
Major Professors: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt and Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard

Beth J. Geiges
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
M.B.A., M.Ed.
Thesis: Pedagogy for Reading in Rural Alaska: The Effect of Culturally Relevant Reading Materials on Student Reading Achievement in Chevak, Alaska
This study used Culturally Relevant Reading materials (CRRM) with a proprietary, culturally relevant pedagogy for Reading. It was focused on results in Reading Achievement, both reading fluency and comprehension, involving 7th and 8th grade students in a twelve (12)-week program of Reading Language Arts.
Major Professor: Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard
Pearl Kiyawn Brower 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
A.A., Shasta College, 2001; B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004; B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2004; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010. 
Thesis: Tumitchiat: Iñuqqaat Aullarrisiatun Iḷisaġviit A New Pathway: Indigenous Leadership In Higher Education 
After centuries of colonization and assimilation, Indigenous people are making commitments to nurture the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Focusing on Indigenous leadership through higher education, this dissertation defines Indigenous leadership, and creates a model Indigenous leadership program that has a foundation in Indigenous ways of knowing and learning. 
Major Professor: Dr. Theresa John 
Norma Ann Shorty 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.Ed., University of Regina, 1998; M.Ed., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2004. 
Thesis: Inland Tlingit of Teslin, Yukon: G̲aanax̲.Ádi and Kook̲hittaan clan origin stories for the immediate and clan family of Emma Joanne Shorty (nee Sidney) 
The objective of this thesis is to document the stories and the story-gathering processes associated with published and private holdings of the Kook¯ hittaan and G ¯ aanax¯ .ádi clans with connections to the Inland Tlingit from Teslin, Yukon. This Indigenous-led research focuses on the traditional clan stories from an insider perspective. As a result of this research, Tlingit ways of documenting history are discovered and a Tlingit research framework is revealed. 
Major Professor: Dr. Michael Koskey

Charles Sean Asikłuk Topkok 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1992; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2010. 
Thesis: Iñupiat Ilitqusiat: Inner Views of Our Iñupiaq Values 
Iñupiat Ilitqusiat: Inner Views of Our Iñupiaq Values examines how Iñupiat pass down our cultural heritage. My doctoral research addresses how we view each Iñupiat Ilitqusiat (Iñupiaq values), how our Iñupiat Ilitqusiat have been passed down, and how we pass down our Iñupiaq cultural heritage to our future culture bearers. 
Major Professor: Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard
Cheryl Louise Jerabek 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.S., University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, 2001; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2005. 
Thesis: Russian Impact on Cultural Identity and Heritage in the Middle Kuskokwim Region of Alaska 
Russian heritage, which has been absorbed into the local culture, has played an important role in the individual and group identity of Native people in the middle Kuskokwim River region of Alaska. It is this Indigenous rootedness that is at the core of identity in the middle Kuskokwim. 
Major Professor: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt

Jacqueline Marie Rahm 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1995; B.A., Allegheny College, 1987. 
Thesis: Deconstructing the Western Worldview: Toward the Repatriation and Indigenization of Wellness 
Through Indigenous frameworks and methodologies, this research explores fundamental similarities between pre-Socratic and Indigenous epistemologies. It examines historical forces that since shaped Western thought as it diverged and has impacted American Indigenous peoples. It suggests the critical need for shifting the dominant paradigm toward an original congruity with Indigenous worldviews. 
Major Professor: Dr. Michael Koskey

Barbara QasuGlana Amarok
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
M.Ed.; B.A.
Thesis: An Indigenous Vision of 21st Century Education in the Bering Strait Region
My work represents a synthesis of my personal and professional experiences and is similar to research methodologies such as triangulation, auto-ethnography, mixed methods, or various Indigenous research methodologies that focus on webs of relationship.
Major Professors: Dr. Bryan Brayboy and Dr. Eric Madsen
Alisha Susana Drabek 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Arizona, 1994; M.F.A., University of Arizona, 1996. 
Thesis: Liitukut Sugpiat’stun (We Are Learning How To Be Real People): Exploring Kodiak Alutiiq Literature Through Core Values 
The decline of Kodiak Alutiiq oral traditions and a limited awareness or understanding of archived stories has kept them from being used in schools. This study catalogs an anthology of Alutiiq literature and provides an historical and values-based analysis of the educational significance of stories as tools for wellbeing. 
Major Professor: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt
Maryanne Allan 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Seattle University, 1972; M.A., Seattle University, 1976 
Thesis: Young Native Fiddlers: A Case Study on Cultural Resilience in Interior Alaska 
This study explores the resilience of Alaska Native youth by using a cultural lens to examine the interconnectedness between culturally healthy youth and a culturally nurturing community. The study focuses on the impact of a culturally-based youth group (Young Native Fiddlers) on its members and on the participating community. 
Major Professors: Dr. Raymond Barnhardt and Dr. Joan Parker Webster
Theresa Arevgaq John 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1983; M.Ed., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1992 
Thesis: Yuraryararput Kangiit-llu: Our Ways of Dance and Their Meanings 
The first purpose of this study was to describe the categories of dance. The second purpose was to describe how Yup’ik music and dance have played a functional role in organizing and maintaining various societal infrastructures within the Yup’ik culture. This study sought to further understand this role and how it has evolved over time. 
Major Professors: Dr. Joan Parker Webster and Dr. Raymond Barnhardt

Philip A. Loring 
Ph.D. Indigenous Studies 
B.A., Florida Atlantic University, 2005; M.A., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2007 
Thesis: Ways to Help and Ways to Hinder: Climate, Health, and Food Security in Alaska 
This dissertation explores various dimensions of health and food security in Alaska. The context is dramatic climatic change and ongoing socioeconomic and cultural transitions in Alaska’s rural and urban communities, covering topics like methylmercury contamination and the impacts of environmental change on subsistence and commercial activities. 
Major Professor: Dr. S. Craig Gerlach


MA in Indigenous Studies Graduates

(formerly MA in Cross-Cultural Studies)

  • Peri Sanders
  • Amelia K. Ahnaughuq Topkok
  • Limalau Kaneyo Hirata
  • Jaime Napolski
  • Maura Hennessey
  • Sarah Betcher
  • Elizabeth Kunibe
  • Glenn Seaman
  • Caleb Billmeier
  • Susan Thames
  • Charles Sean Asiqłuq Topkok
  • Leta Young
  • Tobias Lambert
  • Charlene Dubay
  • Flora Johnson
  • Steven Becker
  • Georgia Sepel
  • Vivian Mork
  • Catherine Koskey
  • Denise Wartes
  • Marcia Abalama
  • Nita Rearden
  • David DeHass
  • Malinda Chase
  • Alf Walle
  • Andrew Hope III
  • Jeffry Gayman
  • Vivian Martindale
  • Rhonda Hickok
  • Christopher Wright