Dr. Glenn Wharton

Chair, UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of

Archaeological and Ethnographic Materials

invites you to attend

UCLA/Getty Program’s Distinguished Speaker Series


Dr. Gabrielle Tayac

Associate Professor of Public History, George Mason University

Former Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Speaking on

Ancestors Speaking:

Objects and Cultural Sovereignty in Native America

with opening remarks by

Dr. Darnell Hunt

Dean, UCLA Division of Social Sciences

Professor of Sociology and African American Studies


Friday, March 5, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. PST

Live streaming via Zoom


To see the invitation, Click Here

Please submit your questions in advance of the webinar via email to: by Thursday, March 4 at 3:00 p.m.

Instructions to join the webinar will be provided once your registration has been confirmed.

About the lecture: A family of baskets. A library in a shell. A vow breathing through stone. For diverse indigenous communities across the Americas, material objects connect to a wider web of cultural relationships. These pieces are part of people’s lives, with essences that may be considered kin through time and space. They merge humans together with each other, spirit, and the seen natural world over generations.  Colonialism purposefully and relentlessly unleashed actions to repress and even eradicate indigenous peoples for centuries – along with their beloved objects. Late 20th  century policies shifted to open conditions for Native communities to innovate culture in multiple ways, including reconnections to ancestral material culture. In this lecture, Dr. Gabrielle Tayac will share learnings that she’s experienced across the continent with knowledge keepers who know how to amplify their ancestors’ voices.

About the speaker:  Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, a member of the Piscataway Indian Nation, is an activist scholar committed to empowering indigenous perspectives. Gabi earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Harvard University, and her B.S. in Social Work and American Indian Studies from Cornell University. Her scholarly research focuses on hemispheric American Indian identity, multiracialism, indigenous religions, and social movements, maintaining a regional specialization in the Chesapeake Bay. Gabi served on the staff of Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian for 18 years as its first education director and then as a historian and curator. She engages deeply in community relationships and public discourse with audiences from kindergarten classes to the (Obama) White House. She recently returned from a two-year journey to uplift the voices of indigenous elder women leaders and help them preserve their treasured cultural legacies, sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Gabi is now an Associate Professor of Public History at George Mason University.

Photo Credit: The Source

In his essay in The Source, Dr. Kyle T. Mays, UCLA Assistant Professor in the Department of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History, cites last month’s Native American Heritage Month as a time “to reflect on a history of genocide, and to consider what we collectively owe to the people upon whose land we all currently live.” Dr. Mays discusses the realities of Native Americans in the United States through the lens of Native American Hip Hop (NAHH) that he describes as “one of the best representations of Native sovereignty.”

To read the full essay, click HERE.

UCLA graduate student Marina Perez interviews Dr. Nancy Mithlo, UCLA Professor of Gender Studies, about her two new books, Knowing Art (University of Nebraska Press) and Making History: IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (University of New Mexico Press). Dr. Mithlo discusses her extensive research with Native communities and the power and beauty of Native art.

For Tovaangar (LA Basin, So. Channel Islands) pronunciation, click HERE.

Interview Chapters:

:14 – Intro

1:41 – Contemporary Indigenous art and why it’s so important

3:24 – American Indian curatorial methodologies

6:53 – What is it like to work with and talk with our elders? Especially David Warren.

10:18 – How do you analyze the artworks?

16:15 – Any advice for artists, students, researchers during the pandemic?

Art work shared:

By the Water’s Edge (1987) bronze, Copyright Chiinde LLC (photo courtesy of Allan Houser)

Dawn (1989) bronze, Copyright Chiinde LLC (photo courtesy of Allan Houser)

To learn more, check out Professor Mithlo’s book Knowing Native Arts and Making History: IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts


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American Indian Studies at UCLA is an interdisciplinary IDP with a long history of working with and for tribal communities. When it was announced by UNESCO that it would celebrate this year of Indigenous Languages as important repositories of traditions, memory, and cultural heritage, we reflected on the work that has been done at UCLA. Our work with community members in relationship to languages emphasizes the importance of Indigenous knowledges and knowledge keepers. The faculty at UCLA thrive to implement ethical and meaningful flows of information from our campus to Indigenous communities. Language is just one way American Indian Studies excels at UCLA by working with communities.

The following photos provide a glimpse into the study of indigenous languages at UCLA. All photos are courtesy of Ken Scott Photo. To learn more, visit the UCLA American Indian Studies website HERE.

Renee White Eyes and Talia Gomez Quintana explore the use of technology, gaming, and language learning.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Professor David Delgado Shorter discusses the connection between indigenous languages and perception.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Professor Mishuana Goeman uses the Wiki for Indigenous Languages in a UCLA classroom.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo

Clementine Bordeaux and Theodore Shulsky use the Wiki for Indigenous Languages, created by UCLA Professor David Delgado Shorter.
Photo Courtesy of Ken Scott Photo