Honoring Native Tradition and Community Through Academic Excellence

Faculty and Staff

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
Greg Cajete, Ph.D.
(Santa Clara Pueblo)

NAS Director, Associate Professor Education

Tiffany Lee
Tiffany Lee, Ph.D. (Diné/Lakota)

NAS Associate Director, Associate Professor of Native American Studies

Beverly SingerBeverly Singer, Ph.D.
(Santa Clara Pueblo/Diné)

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies

Lloyd LeeLloyd Lee, Ph.D., (Diné)
Assistant Professor of Native American Studies

Robin Minthorn, Ph.D.
(Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma)

Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Native
American Studies

Greg Cajete, Ph.D., (Santa Clara Pueblo), NAS Chair, Associate Professor Education

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).

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Beverly Singer, Ph.D., (Santa Clara Pueblo/Diné), Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies
Beverly R. Singer is Tewa and Diné from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico.  She is an award-winning documentary video producer whose concern is indigenous community wellness.  Active in producing and writing about indigenous films, she is an Executive Board Member of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and author of Wiping the War Paint Off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (2001) published by the University of Minnesota Press.  She is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies and director for the Institute of American Indian Research at the University of New Mexico.  She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, M.A. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, and documentary film training from the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, NM.

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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. 

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Lloyd Lee, Ph.D., (Diné), Assistant Professor of Native American Studies
Lloyd L. Lee, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department. He is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and of the Kinyaa’1anii (Towering House) clan, born for the T[’11sch77 (Red Bottom) clan. His maternal grandfather clan is !sh88h7 (Salt) and his paternal grandfather clan is T1b22h1 (Water’s Edge).

Originally from Albuquerque, NM, he went to Dartmouth College and graduated in 1994 with B.A. in history. He then went onto Stanford University where he received his M.A. in Education in 1995. From 1995 to 1999, he taught U.S. History and Native American Studies at Wingate High School (a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school) near Gallup, NM. After teaching for four years, he returned to school at the University of New Mexico, and earned his Ph.D. in American Studies in 2004.

After attaining his doctorate, he was hired by Arizona State University to teach at the West campus in the Language, Cultures and History Department. He taught Native American cultures, histories, and philosophies for three years, before returning to the University of New Mexico. His research areas include indigenous and Navajo identity, indigenous and Navajo masculinities, Navajo transformative research, indigenous leadership development, indigenous philosophies, and indigenous community building. He is the book review editor for the academic journal The American Indian Quarterly.  He has one single author book coming out in Fall 2013:  Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform and an anthology titled Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought published by the University of Arizona Press will be out in May 2014.

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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!

Mary K. Bowannie, M.A., (Zuni/Cochiti), Lecturer II
Bowannie is a lecturer in the Native American Studies department as the University of New Mexico in the areas of journalism and politics. She incorporates her experiences into the classroom where she has students look critically at the media’s impact on Native America. Her specialties also include online instruction in the areas of current events in Indigenous communities, voting and tribal communities, and tribal gaming.

She serves as the managing editor of the Dawn of Nations Today online news publication produced by students in the Native American Studies program. She also hosts a YouTube channel documenting the voices and images of the Native American Studies program.

She has covered stories on Native America for various media outlets since 1994 and has collaborated with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, The Navajo Times, The Southern Ute Drum, the NAHJ Student Campus 2010 and numerous other organizations on media projects and panels.

Bowannie is a 2011-2012 nominee for the UNM Outstanding Online Teacher of the Year Award, a 2012 McCormick Foundation Reporting Institute participant: Battle on the Homefront at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Boston University, a National Conference for Media Reform 2011 Scholarship Awardee, a 2010 APME NewsTrain/McCormick Foundation Awardee, and a 2009 Fellow with the Journalism Center on Children & Families Ladder of Success: Covering Early Childhood Learning. In 2006, she was one of the recipients of the competitive RTNDF Educator in the Newsroom Fellowship.

She has held memberships with the Online News Association from 2009 to 2010, Native American Journalists Association from 1994 to 2009, and the Radio and Television News Directors Association from 2006 to 2007, and the New Mexico Academic Advising Association from 2010 to 2013. She served as an at large board member for Common Cause NM 2009 – 2011.

She has an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Mateo L. Sanchez, M.A. (Mestizo), Program Coordinator
Mateo L. Sanchez is a farmer from the Rio Abajo in New Mexico (Peralta/Tome) and often refers to himself as a “product of colonization.” He spearheaded the Sanchez Farms Re-Cultivation/ Revitalization Project in 2000, which has reintroduced traditional activities such as story telling, farming, animal husbandry, wool processing, weaving, traditional cooking, adobe construction, and large-scale murals. He is currently working on a book with his eighty- year-old mother, Novela, documenting family stories and history as well as completing a compilation of short stories “ Life of a Traditional Mestizo on the Rio Abajo.”

Mateo has dedicated his career to teaching life skills to young people and leading community initiatives in Native Communities. He has been a teacher in BIA and Public Schools, Director of Education for the Pueblo of San Felipe, Director of Indian Education for the Bernalillo Public School District and most recently was a Wellness Teacher and Dean of Students for a charter school in Albuquerque, NM.

He possesses a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education with a minor in both Bilingual Education and Social Studies from the University of New Mexico. He was also awarded a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and completed the Educational Leadership Administrative licensure program at UNM.

Geneva Becenti, (Diné) M.Ed., Ph.D. Student, Graduate Assistant, UNM Native American Studies

Delia Halona, (Diné), Administrative Assistant III

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