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Honoring Native Tradition and Community Through Academic Excellence
Click on the Faculty names or pictures to see a brief biography and a short video on their teaching philosophies.
Click here for the NAS Staff listings
Greg Cajete, Ph.D.
(Santa Clara Pueblo)
NAS Director, Associate Professor Education
Tiffany Lee, Ph.D. (Diné/Lakota)
NAS Associate Director, Associate Professor of Native American Studies
Lloyd Lee, Ph.D., (Diné)
Associate Professor of Native American Studies
Robin Minthorn, Ph.D.
(Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma)
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Native
Leola Tsinnajinnie, Ph.D., (Diné & Filipino) Assistant Professor of Native American Studies
Catherine Montoya, MPA (Diné), Student Programs Specialist, UNM Native American Studies
Gregory Cajete, Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico and as a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission. In addition, he has lectured at colleges and universities in the U.S. , Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, England, Italy, Japan and Russia.
He worked at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 21 years. While at the Institute, he served as Dean of the Center for Research and Cultural Exchange, Chair of Native American Studies and Professor of ethno science. He organized and directed the First and Second Annual National Native American Very Special Arts Festival held in respectively in Santa Fe, NM in 1991and Albuquerque, NM in 1992. In 1995, he was offered a position in American Indian education in the University of New Mexico, College of Education
Currently, he is Director of Native American Studies and an Associate Professor in the Division of Language, Literacy and Socio cultural Studies in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Cajete earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from New Mexico Highlands University with majors in both Biology and Sociology and a minor in Secondary Education. He received his Masters of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in Adult and Secondary Education. He received his Ph.D. from International College – Los Angeles New Philosophy Program in Social Science Education with an emphasis in Native American Studies.
Dr. Cajete has received several fellowships and academic distinctions, including the American Indian Graduate Fellowship from the US-DOE Office of Indian Education (1977-78); the D’arcy McNickle Fellowship in American Indian History from the Newberry Library, Chicago, IL (1984-85); and the Katrin Lamon Fellowship in American Indian Art and Education (1985-1986) from the School of American Research in Santa Fe, NM.
Dr. Cajete also designs culturally-responsive curricula geared to the special needs and learning styles of Native American students. These curricula are based upon Native American understanding of the “nature of nature’ and utilizes this foundation to develop an understanding of the science and artistic thought process as expressed in Indigenous perspectives of the natural world.
Dr. Cajete has authored fivebooks: “Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education,” (Kivaki Press, 1994); “Ignite the Sparkle: An Indigenous Science Education Curriculum Model”, (Kivaki Press, 1999); “Spirit of the Game: Indigenous Wellsprings (2004) ,” “A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living,” and “Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence” (Clearlight Publishers, 1999 and 2000).
Tiffany Lee, Ph.D., (Diné/Lakota), Associate Professor of
Native American Studies
Tiffany S. Lee (Diné /Lakota) is Dibé Łizhiní (Blacksheep) and born for Naałaní (Oglala Lakota). She is from Crystal, New Mexico, located on the Navajo Nation, on her mother’s side, and Pine Ridge, South Dakota on her father’s side. She received her doctorate in Sociology of Education from Stanford University’s School of Education. Her research focuses on Indigenous education and language socialization experiences. In 2003, she was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship from the American Educational Research Association to study Indigenous Learning Communities and their influences on Native students’ life goals and commitment to their Native communities. She also examines the effects of competing language ideologies on Native students’ commitment to (re)learning their heritage languages.
Her recent publications include: Critical language awareness among Native youth in New Mexico in Indigenous youth and multilingualism: language identity, ideology, and practice in dynamic cultural worlds (Routledge); “You should learn who you are through your culture”: transformative educational possibilities for Native American youth in New Mexico (co-author) in Cultural transformations: youth and pedagogies of possibility. (Harvard Education Press); Leadership and Accountability in
American Indian Education: Voices from New Mexico (co-author) in the American Journal of Education; and “If I could speak Navajo, I’d definitely speak it 24/7”: Diné youth language consciousness, activism and reclamation of Diné identity in Diné perspectives: revitalizing and reclaiming Navajo thought (University of Arizona Press). She is currently an Associate Professor and the Associate Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico.
Lee, Ph.D., (Diné), Associate Professor of Native American Studies
Lloyd L. Lee, Ph.D.,
He is the Director of the Institute for American Indian Research (IFAIR) and on the council for the American Indian Studies Association.
He is the author of Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections (2013) and edited Diné Perspectives: Reclaiming and Revitalizing Navajo Thought (2014). His research focuses on American Indian identity, gender specifically Navajo masculinities, leadership, philosophies, transformative research, and American Indian community building.
Robin Minthorn, Ph.D. (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Apache, Nez Perce,
Umatilla and Assiniboine), Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and
Native American Studies
Dr. Minthorn currently serves as an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Robin Minthorn is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and is also a descendant of the Apache, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Assiniboine nations. She attended college and graduated from the University of Oklahoma completing a Bachelor’s in Psychology and minor in Native American Studies in 2002. After completing her bachelors she went on to complete and received a Masters in Human Relations in 2004. A couple of years later Robin completed her second master’s degree, a Masters in Adult and Higher Education in 2007 while she was working at Oklahoma’s 1st tribal college, Comanche Nation College and then transitioning in her position as Coordinator of Native American Affairs at Oklahoma State University. She also taught at Pawnee Nation College for two years while working at OSU and in her doctoral program.
This April she successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Indigenizing Leadership Concepts through Perspectives of Native American College Students” at Oklahoma State University in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education and Public Policy Program and officially receiving her Ph.D. in July 2012. Robin’s research interests include Indigenous leadership perspectives and experiences of Native college students, Indigenous female leaders, and multigenerational perspectives within tribal communities.
Also, she is interested in the advocacy of Native college student success and retention including Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU). She was recently elected to the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) board of director’s in October 2012 and recently accepted a board of director’s position with the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC). It is important for Dr. Minthorn to acknowledge her ancestors who have come before her and fought for her continued existence and the role her grandparents played in emphasizing the value of an education and how important that would help in bettering her as well as others around her. Receiving a higher education and successfully completing a degree inherently creates a sense of responsibility for each of us to do whatever we can to see our families, friends, tribal communities and those in the background who need to know they can do the same and for us to willingly share our stories and journey. Ah-ho!
Professor Tsinnajinnie is Filipino and Diné, born for the Táchii’nii (Red Running Into The Water) clan. She is also married into Tamaya (Santa Ana Pueblo). She is a member of the Torreon/Star Lake Chapter of the Navajo Nation where she was raised. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. Her doctorate concentration is in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies from the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. Her areas of focus are Indigenous Education, Decolonization, and Native Student Conceptions of Nation Building.
Her dissertation study, “Examining the Indigenous Relationship Between Education and the United States’ Military from 2001-2009,” led to a Postdoctoral Diversity Fellowship at UNM with Native American Studies (NAS) and the Division for Equity and Inclusion in 2011-2012. From 2012 to 2015, she taught at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute as a Social Sciences Instructor where she worked on the growth of Native American Studies at the tribal college; community engagement and Nation Building in the general education curriculum; and was an active participant in several grant projects. She recently served as a Summer Policy Academy II Faculty Member for the Leadership Institute of Santa Fe Indian School in 2015 where she enjoys an ongoing relationship with the school community. Leola has also taught as a Teaching/Graduate Assistant at the University of Arizona and UNM as well as an Adjunct Instructor for the Institute of American Indian Arts, UNM Gallup, and UNM.
She joined UNM’s NAS Program full-time in the fall of 2015 as an Assistant Professor. She has a passion for teaching and working with Native Studies’ students. She is thrilled to have joined the NAS community full-time and to further pursue her research on the various pathways of Native youth in Indigenous Education.
Catherine N. Montoya (Diné) is Dibé Łizhiní (Blacksheep) clan, born for Táchii’nii (Red Running Into The Water) clan, her maternal grandfather's clan is Haltsooí (Meadow People) and her paternal grandfather's clan is TŁ'ááschí'í (Red Bottom). She is from Tse'Da Tah Canyon near Lupton, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. Her husband, James Montoya, is from Katishtya (San Felipe Pueblo) and Isleta Pueblo.
Catherine received her Bachelors in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and earned a Masters of Public Administration in Human Resource Management from the University of New Mexico. She has worked in higher education since 2004, first at the University of Notre Dame, then later came to the University of New Mexico in 2007. Catherine enjoys working with students and wants to continue to see students succeed and to reach their goals of obtaining their degrees.
Delia Halona, (Diné), Administrative Assistant III