University of California, Riverside

California Center for the Native Nations


Neo Native

Tony Abeyta (Navajo) Mixed Media Painter and Neo Native Exhibit Curator

Tony Abeyta is from the Navajo nation, residing between Santa Fe n.m. and Berkeley Ca, where he currently teaches a class on art and activism at UC Berkeley. Abeyta earned a MA in Painting from New York University and an honorary doctorate from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M.  He is a full time studio painter, jeweler and video artist, exhibiting in galleries and museums both nationally and internationally. Abeyta is the curator of the Neo Native / new mythologies exhibition currently on view at the Sam Maloof foundation in Alta Loma California.

Neo Native: Toward New Mythologies, curated by artist Tony Abeyta is a major show of paintings, photography, ceramics, glass, mixed media installations and video in The Maloof’s Jacobs Education Center gallery through January 7, 2018. Sam Maloof (1916-2009) was a mentor and friend to Tony Abyeta.

Bill Anthes Professor, Art Field Group, Pitzer College

Bill Anthes is an interdisciplinary scholar in the Art Field Group at Pitzer College. With a background in studio art, art history and the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, he teaches and writes about art in terms of multimedia practice and intercultural and interspecies exchange. He is author of the books Native Moderns: American Indian Painting, 1940-1960 (Duke University Press, 2006) and Edgar Heap of Birds (Duke University Press, 2015). With Kate Morris, he edited “Indigenous Futures,” the summer 2017 issue of Art Journal. He is a member of the Editorial Board of the journal American Indian Quarterly.

Stina Attebery PhD Candidate, Department of English, UCR

Stina Attebery is a PhD candidate in the English department at UC Riverside specializing in Indigenous speculative fiction, ecocriticism, and media. She has published articles in Medical HumanitiesHumanimalia, and Extrapolation. Her current project explores the way Indigenous science and speculative fiction rethink categories of life, death, inanimacy, ecology, and toxicity in ways that emphasize kinship in the face of pollution and climate change.

Nanobah Becker (Navajo) Filmmaker and Producer

Award-winning writer/director Nanobah Becker is a member of the Navajo Nation. THE 6th WORLD, her sci-fi short, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Her short CONVERSION was official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. She directed I LOST MY SHADOW by Laura Ortman, which won best Music Video at the imagineNative film + media arts festival. MY SOUL REMAINER, their second collaboration, is screening in festivals. Nanobah was a dialogue director on the Navajo language dub of FINDING NEMO. She is currently working on feature doc LIVING IN THE SHADOWS OF SERRA about the history of California’s Mission Indians.

Laura Beebe (Mohawk) PhD candidate, Department of Gender Studies, UCLA

Laura Beebe is Akwesasne Mohawk from Northern New York. She is a PhD candidate in the Gender Studies Department at UCLA. She also holds a master’s degree in Ethnic Studies from UCSD. Her areas of research interest include Indigenous studies, gender studies, Indigenous theory, critical race theory, Indigenous cultural production, modern/post-modern literature, and knowledge production. Her dissertation examines representations of violence in Indigenous cultural production as a narrative genre offering an opportunity to re-evaluate violent resistance to colonialism and imperialism. Her project intends to contribute to current research in Indigenous studies that examines cultural productions’ affects on sovereignty and subjectivity.

Christi Belcourt (Michif/ Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta) Painter, Author, and Lead Organizer, Onaman Collective

Christi Belcourt (Michif/ Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta) She is a mother, artist, environmentalist, water defender and advocate for Indigenous languages, Peoples and lands. She is a traditional person who believes in the great power and mystery of the earth and spirit world. Christi is a critically acclaimed artist who has lead many nationally recognized community projects and has won many awards, but as a grassroots leader and organizer she stays firmly rooted in the rising movement of Indigenous Peoples for lands and waters.

Shane Brown (Cherokee) Director of Photography/Cinematographer/Photographer

Shane Brown is a photographer, cinematographer, and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He was director of photography for Sterlin Harjo's film Mekko, and cinematographer for his documentary, This May Be the Last Time. Shane also contributes lens work to Osiyo—Voices of the Cherokee People. His documentary photo projects include In the Territories, focusing on the American state of Oklahoma, its convoluted histories and their present day manifestations, and Life Out There, exploring the new mythology of the American WestBrown holds a MFA in Photography from the University of Oklahoma. His work can be at

Gerald Clarke (Cahuilla) Mixed Media Artist and Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UCR

Gerald Clarke is an enrolled member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians and lives on the Cahuilla Indian reservation. When not creating artwork or serving as Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside, Gerald assists in running the Clarke family cattle ranch and remains involved in Cahuilla culture. In 2006, he was elected as Vice Chairman to the Cahuilla Tribal Council and spent six years working on local, state and federal issues affecting the tribe. When not working, Clarke participates in Bird Singing, a traditional form of singing that tells the cosmology of the Cahuilla people.

Lewis deSoto (Cahuilla) Photographer, Sculptor, Installation Artist, and Author

Lewis deSoto (Cahuilla) born in San Bernardino in 1954.  He is Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University.  His work is in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Columbus Museum of Art and San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. His work consists of media installations, sculpture, photography and the written word.  His book EMPIRE, published by Heyday Books was released in late 2015. The work CARLOTA is currently on view at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms, CA.

Neil Diamond (Cree) Director, Writer, Filmmaker

Neil Diamond's (Cree) recent credits include Reel Injun which won a Gemini for Best Direction and the prestigious Peabody Award in 2011, The Last Explorer (2009), One More River (2004), named Best Documentary at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québecois, Heavy Metal: A Mining Disaster in Northern Quebec (2004), which got Top Prize and Audience Pick at Norway’s Riddu Riddu Festival; Cree Spoken Here (2001), his directorial debut, garnered the Telefilm/APTN award for Best Aboriginal Documentary. Neil co-directed Inuit Cree Reconciliation with Zacharias Kunuk (2012), which won Best Short Documentary at Toronto’s ImagiNative Film Festival.

Kimberly Norris Guerrero (Colville/Salish-Kootenai/Cherokee) Screenwriter, Actor, Director and Assistant Professor, Department of Theater, UCR

Kimberly is an Oklahoma-born actor, writer and director. As an actor, she’s enjoyed a long career in film, television and on Broadway—but is probably best known for playing Jerry’s Native American girlfriend on Seinfeld. Kimberly has also worked extensively with tribal communities using filmmaking as a tool of empowerment, and is a founding member of The StyleHorse Collective, an award-winning group of industry professionals who work with tribes to create compelling PSAs, music videos and documentaries. Kimberly received a BA in History from UCLA and an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from UCR.

Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa and Choctaw) Visual Artist, Filmmaker, Writer

Steven Paul Judd is a trail-blazing contemporary visual artist and film maker born in Oklahoma of Kiowa and Choctaw roots. After working as a TV writer in Los Angeles, he set out on a path to make art that he couldn’t find anywhere else.  His mash-ups of Native experiences and disposable American pop culture are sly and often downright funny. His creations include paintings, prints, poster art, photography, and t-shirt designs.

Marija Krivokapic Associate Professor of English, University of Montenegro

Marija Krivokapić is an associate professor of English Modernism, Contemporary Native American Literature, Travel Writing, and Cultural studies at the University of Montenegro. Her recent longer publications include Images of Montenegro in Anglo-American Creative Fiction and Film (UK, 2016), co-authored with Neil Diamond; Contemporary Native American literature (Croatia 2013), co-authored with Sanja Runtic; Essays in Contemporary Anglo-American Literature (Montenegro, 2011), and Quest for Transcendence in D. H. Lawrence’s Fiction (Montenegro, 2010). She is the general editor of Folia linguistica et litteraria, an international journal for language and literary studies.

Monty Little (Diné) Painter, Printmaker, and Poet

Monty Little is a Diné veteran from Tuba City, Arizona. He graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Creative Writing and Studio Arts in 2015. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and is planning on an exhibition in Venice next year. He’s written extensively about his encounters with conflict, and now uses visual imagery to both record and erase details to reveal unsettling truths. He currently lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma with his spouse and daughter. 

Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) Multi-Disciplinary Artist

Born in North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation, multi-disciplinary artist Cannupa Hanska Luger comes from Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian descent. His work communicates stories of complex Indigenous identities coming up against 21st century challenges, including human alienation from and destruction of the land to which we all belong. He provokes diverse publics to engage with Indigenous peoples and values apart from the lens of colonial social structuring.

Mark Minch (Susanville Indian Rancheria): Assistant Professor, Department of English, UCR

Mark Minch is an enrolled member of the Susanville Indian Rancheria and an assistant professor of Indigenous Studies in the Department of English at UC Riverside. He is working on his first book, Native Revitalizations: Transcriptions and Gestures of Cultural Return, which looks at the biopolitical implications of current cultural and intellectual revitalization projects in Native California. In a post-apocalyptic settler landscape of large-scale development, progressive politics, and silicon encrusted neoliberal futurism, the manuscript investigates Indigenous figurations of life and death and the decolonial potentialities of plural cultural worlds and California Indian non-modernist sovereignties, refusing the future. 

Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache) Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Occidental College

Nancy Marie Mithlo, Ph.D. (Chiricahua Apache) is a writer and scholar based in Los Angeles, CA. Her curatorial work has resulted in nine exhibitions at the Venice Biennale. Formerly an Associate Professor of Art History at Occidental College and Chair of American Indian studies at the Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles), in 2017/18 she serves as a University of California Los Angeles Institute of American Cultures, American Indian Studies Center Visiting Scholar, a Brown University George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellow and a Getty Research Institute Guest Researcher. 

Isaac Murdoch (Serpent River First Nation): Painter, Traditional Knowledge Holder, Storyteller, Onaman Collective Member

Bombigiizhik (Isaac Murdoch) is from the Fish Clan and is from Serpent River First Nation. He is a dad, bushman, hunter, artist, storyteller, musician and traditional knowledge keeper. Isaac is an environmentalist, revolutionary, activist and fierce defender of the lands and waters. He is a student of the stars and pictographs. His images, like his stories, reflect his deeply held beliefs in the great spirit of the earth.  Although he has won awards and is recognized internationally for his “doodles” as he calls them, but to him recognition doesn’t matter. All that matters, he believes, is that climate is rising and we all need to act.

Jenell Navarro (Cherokee) Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, California State University, San Luis Obispo

Jenell Navarro is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Her main areas of research include Indigenous Hip Hop, Indigenous Art, and Indigenous Feminisms. She is a bead weaver and zinester, with her latest zine production titled "Beadwerk: An Indigenous Hip-Hop Beadwork Zine." She is also the proud mama of two fierce children, Nayeli and Joaquín, and resides on California's Central Coast with her partner, José.

Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) Instrumentalist, composer, artist

Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) is a Brooklyn, NY composer, musician and artist. Producing solo albums, live performances and film/art soundtracks, she frequently collaborates with artists in film, music, art, dance, multi-media, activistism and poetry, such as Tony Conrad, Jock Soto, Raven Chacon, Nanobah Becker, Okkyung Lee, Martin Bisi, Caroline Monnet, Michelle Latimer, Lisa Jackson and Martha Colburn. She plays violin, Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, pedal steel guitar, sings through a megaphone, and makes field recordings. Recipient: Jerome Foundation and Native Arts and Cultural Foundation Fellowships, Art Matters Grant, IAIA’s Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Social Engagement and Rauschenberg Residencies.

Veronica Passalacqua Curator, C.N. Gorman Museum and Affiliated Faculty, Department of Art History, UC Davis

Veronica Passalacqua is Curator at the C.N. Gorman Museum, University of California, Davis.  As a writer, curator, and scholar of Native North American art, her research focus is contemporary Native American art with a specialty in Native American photography. She has curated exhibitions nationally and internationally featuring contemporary artwork by Native American and Indigenous artists. Passalacqua previously worked at Christie’s Auction House, the British Museum, Barbican Art Gallery and consulted for Canadian High Commission.  She earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Harvard University in 1994 and Master of Philosophy in Museum Studies from Oxford University in 1996.

James Rawitsch Executive Director, Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts

With a career encompassing historic preservation, art museum administration and higher education, Jim Rawitsch brings a unique blend of skills to his position as Executive Director at The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts. He worked previously at University of Southern California, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Pasadena Playhouse, and as consultant to a wide range of corporate and not-for-profit clients.  He has taught at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Marylhurst University in Oregon. Educated in California public schools, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA.  

Ryan Rice (Mohawk) Artist, Curator, and Chair, Indigenous Visual Culture Program, Ontario College of Art and Design

Ryan Rice, Kanien’kehá:ka, is an independent curator, critic and the Chair of Indigenous Visual Culture at the OCAD University. His career spans 20 years serving in lead curatorial positions at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the Indigenous Art Centre, curatorial fellowships with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Walter Phillips Gallery, and Curator-In-Residence at Carleton University Art Gallery. Rice was the co-founder of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and Nation to Nation. In the Fall 2017, he opened the inaugural exhibition “raise a flag: work from the Indigenous Art Collection 2000-2015” at the Onsite Gallery in Toronto.

Kimberly Robertson (Mvskoke) Assistant Professor, Department of Liberal Studies, California State University, Los Angeles

Kimberly Robertson (Mvskoke) is an Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She is also an artivist, scholar, and mother who works diligently to employ Native feminist theories, practices, and methodologies in her hustle to fulfill the dreams of her ancestors and to build a world in which her daughters can thrive.

Cara Romero (Chemehuevi) Photographer

Cara Romero is a Native American Chemehuevi photographer whose work reflects her diverse training in film, digital, fine art, journalism, editorial portraiture and commercial photography. Currently Cara is creating monumental fine art works that are representative of her editorial and photo documentary background. Her work is a response to current events and issues in Indian Country from environmental impact on indigenous communities to cultural appropriation to the portrayal of indigenous women in popular culture. She is a dedicated photographer, cultural activist, wife and mother. 

Diego Romero (Cochiti Pueblo) Ceramicist, Painter, and Printmaker

Firmly positioning his work within an Indigenous visuality, Diego Romero has built a career constructing ceramic vessels that elevate Pueblo life to Olympian stature.  A third generation professional artist, Romero was born and raised in Berkeley, California to a Cochiti father and a non-Native mother.  Upon completing high school, he returned to ancestral Pueblo lands and attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, before subsequently attaining degrees from Otis College of Art and Design (BFA) and University of California, Los Angeles (MFA).

Kali Simmons (Lakota) Graduate Student, Department of English, UCR

Kali (Oglala Lakota) is a PhD student and TA at the University of California, Riverside. Kali was born and raised in Redmond, OR. She graduated with a BA in from Portland State University in 2013. In 2015, she received her MA in English at the University of Oregon. Her research examines Indigenous film history and the ways Indigenous peoples have influenced filmmaking practices. As a non-federal Lakota, her work is also concerned with the ways Native identity is recognized, conceptualized, and reimagined, and the effects representation has on Indigenous political projects.

Ernest Siva (Cahuilla and Serrano) Tribal Historian, Cultural Advisor, and Artistic Director

Ernest Siva grew up on Morongo Indian Reservation, earned Bachelors and Master’s degrees in music at USC and played in the Trojan Marching Band! He studied the music and culture of southern California Indians with elders of Luisenño, Cahuilla, and Serrano tribes and transcribed some of their songs in his book, Voices of the Flute. He taught classes in Native American Music and world arts and culture at UCLA. Siva is founder and President of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, a nonprofit organization that saves and shares the Native American cultures of southern California – languages, songs and stories, histories, and traditional arts. 

Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche) Author, Critic, and Associate Curator, National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

Paul Chaat Smith is a Comanche author, essayist, and curator. His exhibitions include James Luna’s EmendatioFritz Scholder: Indian/Not IndianBrian Jungen: Strange Comfort, and Americans, opening at NMAI DC in January 2018. He’s the author (with Robert Warrior) of Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee, and Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong. Although he spends most of his time crafting game-changing exhibitions and texts, he also enjoys reading obsessively about the early days of the Soviet space program, watching massive amounts of televised sports, and writing about himself in the third person. 

Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole, Muscogee, and Navajo) Photographer, Curator, and Professor, Department of Native American Studies, University of California, Davis

Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie’s artwork is fueled by the inherent power of photograph to validate the truth, fact and history. Tsinhnahjinnie documents her views with self-experienced Indigenous authority, exploring her own life, politics, and community, while transgressing geographically and ideologically imposed boundaries in order to consider her work in a global Indigenous context. She makes Walter Benjamin’s fears of mass dissemination realized, with the ability to bring the Indigenous world together across continents, maintaining full sovereignty of an enduring and persevering Native philosophy. 

Debra Yepa-Pappan (Jemez Pueblo) Digital Multi Media Artist, Photographer, Digital Collagist

Debra Yepa-Pappan is a Korean and Jemez Pueblo artist who utilizes digital imaging to visually share her story. While in her earlier works she examined issues of Native American stereotypes, she currently centers on themes about her own identity of being mixed race, cultural pride, and home. Yepa-Pappan’s works are in various collections including at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe and in the British Library Collection. Yepa-Pappan lives in her hometown Chicago with her husband, artist Chris Pappan, and their daughter Ji Hae who is an aspiring ballet dancer.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

California Center for the Native Nations

Tammy Ho
Director, CCNN

Tel: (951) 827-4843

Clyde D Derrick
Assistant Dean, Development

Tel: (951) 827-4365

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