Introducing: Indigenous Mind

Academics, Art, Publications, Zine

Indigenous Mind is an open-access, community-based movement and zine celebrating indigeneity in meditation, mindfulness, and ceremonial praxis. Use the button below to keep up-to-date on issues and calls for submissions.

Indigenous Mind is actively accepting submissions for its inaugural issue, to be published in May 2020. Keep reading for more information.

Focus and Scope

Indigenous Mind  bridges the space between knowledge, experience, and practice. We publish nonfiction essay, counterstories, visual arts, visual poetry, flash and micro stories, and everything between which engages in navigating and decolonizing knowledge and practice of meditation and mindfulness spaces. We welcome innovate pieces which blend multiple styles and that may not fit in typical academic or nonfiction literary journals and magazines to empower and inspire decolonial narratives on their own terms. Submitted works may reflect on experiences in dominant culture meditation/mindfulness spaces, the history of Indigenous praxis, explore the benefits of contemplation, ceremonial, and mindfulness practices towards decolonization, be a creative product of a practice, or teach practices.

We recognize the simultaneously unique and global experiences of marginalized peoples, and thus accept submissions from all over the world.

Submissions in any language (with English translations and/or summaries as appropriate) are accepted.

Indigenous Mind also actively solicits artwork for the cover of each issue. Please indicate on the cover page that you would like your submission considered for the cover, along with a high-res image file (at least 300 DPI).

If you also want to contribute, please review the guidelines below and submit your contribution for consideration to

Submission Guidelines

Text-only Works

  • Works may not be previously published or under consideration by other publications.
  • There is no strict limit to prose; however, works over 4,000 words will need to be extraordinary.
  • Submit via word document or similar editable format.

Artistic and Visual Works

  • Right to print/publish must still be held by the artist for works previously published.
  • May submit via PDF or low-res files, but be prepared with high-resolution versions of files upon acceptance.

Contributor Cover Page

Each submission should include a cover page which includes:

  1. The full name and pronouns of the contributor(s), exactly as you wish them to appear in published version;
  2. Affiliation(s) of each contributor (e.g., Indigenous nation/peoples, department, university/organization, city, country);
  3. Contact details;
  4. A short biography of the contributor(s), no more than 100 words;
  5. A list of 4-6 key words describing your submission;
  6. Abstract or Artist Statement of no more than 200 words summarizing the submission.

Honoring the Indigenous self as enactment of sustainability

Academics, Events, Presentations

In honor of #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth, Rock your Moccs 2019, and our world’s on-going climate actions, I wanted to take today to share a bit from my talk and experience participating in CSU Stanislaus’ 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples Days celebrations last month.

The theme of the week of celebrations was “Indigenous Sustainability: Protecting Land, Water, Human, and More than Human Kinships”. I am humbled to have been included among a cast of community practitioners, each of whom is doing work to revitalize and continue Indigenous cultures. I shared a panel with Shannon Rivers and Jace Kaholokula Saplan, where we explored the topic of protecting the sacred.

As the first speaker following the opening blessing for the Friday evening gathering, I decided to start our journey with an examination of the impact of colonization on the self and how simply by being Indigenous and conscientiously enacting Indigenous practices, we participate in sustainability and decolonization. I shared that

Colonization is trauma that involves a variety of acts – invasion and theft of land, displacement, violence, and loss of cultural rights upon the people.

Modern manifestations include continued displacement and isolation of reservations and rancherias, loss of language, and disruption of ceremony due to damaged land ecologies…[b]ut there are impacts beyond this, on the self – the brain and our genes. 

A few years ago, I began extending my exploration of my positionality as a mixed-heritage womaxn researcher and began writing about connections to a branch of genetics that studies a phenomenon called epigenetic inheritance – the inheritance of a previous generation’s experiences in the form of functional gene differences. Maya-Lenca Chief Leonel Chavez, speaks about the connection between our brains and culture. Specifically, he talks about the aspects of belonging, expressing, and connecting within our communities as essential for maintaining personal well-being and how these experiences may transfer across our epigenomes; influencing ourselves and our descendants.

And like previous research that has been carried out with holocaust survivors, research in the last few years has shown a measurable difference in reactions to stress hormones among Indigenous populations with linkages to the methylation of genes regulating these stress responses – DNA methylation being one of the best described mechanisms of epigentic processes. There are some other biological changes of Indigenous bodies that are documented…[t]his is really just a scratch on the surface to illustrate that Western scientific evidence is undergoing a process of catching up to what many Indigenous communities have understood for a long time about influences of intergenerational historical trauma.  

Weaving in a group guided meditation with the rest of my comments, I played Lift and directed those gathered to turn inward as I shared how mindfulness, meditation, contemplative, and ceremonial practices work to counteract the physical effects colonization. The whole practice was about ten minutes, and included how focus and breathe together as a group. I won’t relay the entire transcript here, but some of the key takeaways from the practice included:

There is evidence that mindfulness and meditation practices can interrupt the damaging stress response pathways of the brain. We want to impede the effects colonialism has constructed in the brain to create space in ourselves for the cultural practices and systems that were taken away or abandoned so that we continue the story of Indigenous cultures and land.

These practices are important not just for sustaining culture, but for reducing harm upon Indigenous bodies – whether a mindful meditation, an Indigenous contemplative practice, or even engaging in ceremony – we utilize deep, focused thought, listening, and uninterrupted attention to teachings, meanings, and kinships around us.

It is how we can be nurtured by the most ordinary and simple tool that we have. 

Our breath.

And our aware presence.

As we talk about Indigenous Sustainability and protecting land and culture, we must acknowledge that this includes sustaining our self. Wellness encompasses the whole-person, as well as the land – the stresses and trauma of colonization crosses generations in our bodies. Honoring our Indigenous selves with practices to reduce and heal that trauma is part of that act towards sustainability. 

Decolonization takes place as a process – multiple acts of practice added up throughout our journey. Colonization is traumatic, invasive and generational – honoring ourselves, creating space within ourselves so that we might continue the restoration of cultural practices and generate new ideas and knowledge for the advancement and empowerment of our peoples is also an act of Indigenous Sustainability.

Sitting in the night air of the patio with so much positive energy flowing through the audience during the meditation was just a lovely experience that I wish I could put into words. Engaging in prayer, contemplation, and song (which we shared several times throughout the two evenings I was able to attend) takes a trust and vulnerability that underlines these important gatherings in the continuity of our peoples and cultures.

You can experience some of this beautiful spirit that was cultivated with this short film produced on site by Sam Contreras.

The speakers, elders, students, musicians, and community members who came together, experienced, and explored our collective journeys as Indigenous peoples were truly inspiring. A huge thank you to all the organizers involved in bringing us to such a beautiful shared space.

Native American History is American History. And also, the present and the future.

Upcoming Event! 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples Day at CSU Stanislaus

Academics, Presentations

I’ll be speaking on October 10 about protecting Indigenous lands and culture on a panel with Dr. Jace Kaholokula Saplan at the upcoming 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples Day at CSU Stanislaus. The celebration spans two days and is free and open to the public. And, if you happen to be local to the area, there will also be a tree planing and blessing on October 14.

You can read more about the speakers who will be present here.

Mention in Dr. Teresa L. McCarty’s 2015 Brown Lecture to AERA

Academics, Acknowledged, Cited

It was quite an honor to be among scholars and Indigenous community activists acknowledged in Dr. McCarty’s Brown Lecture in Education Research given on October 22, 2015 to the American Educational Research Association.

For those of you who have not yet heard her talk “So That Any Child May Succeed – Indigenous Pathways Toward Justice and the Promise of Brown“, you may now watch the live-stream video by clicking here.

Upcoming Event – 2015 AERA

Academics, Presentations

I know things have been kind of silent from me for awhile. I attended the American Anthropological Association meeting in Washington D.C. in December (and had a really great time presenting collaborative work and making connections with researchers doing great work across the world) and unfortunately picked up the very nasty flu that was working its way across the East. My illness and recovery were both prolonged due to complications and I just kind of fell behind. (Like not getting around to writing about the conference and the awesome time I had visiting the National Museum of the American Indian and meeting the awesome Chickasaw jeweler Kristen Dorsey!)

In an attempt to get back into keeping up with my posting about my scholarship, I wanted to share some key sessions where you can find me hanging out at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in Chicago and give you a glimpse into the kinds of activities I get up to within the association.

This year, I am completing my term as the Program Co-Chair for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas SIG. What’s that mean? It means for the last two conferences, I and a colleague have been in charge organizing the peer review of all the paper and panel submissions for our group and then crafting the program space at the conference. It is incredibly rewarding work to be able to see the work of our scholars across the world and craft the program from scratch. This year’s conference, in addition to the SIG program features more than 100 papers and presentations engaging Indigenous education topics.

If you are a tweeter attending the conference, please also look to join our online conversations happening at #IndigenousAERA through out the meeting. Share learning from your Indigenous panels and workshops and draw out themes and ideas from the discussions in which you participate. (Please let your groups know that you are serving as a witness to the event and respectfully not share anything that is requested to not be shared to the public.) There is so much happening at #IndigenousAERA this a great way to keep up with sessions you can’t attend as well. You can also follow the #IndigenousAERA tag from wherever you are if you are unable to attend. Feel free to reach out to me @nicolereneephd as well.

See you around Chicago/Twitter/The Interwebs.

  • Thursday, April 16 (6:15-8:15 pm) Indigenous Peoples of the Americas SIG Business Meeting, Marriott, Fifth Level, Los Angeles/Miami

SIG Business meetings are a great place to get to see how scholars in the SIG interact, learn about what what it means to be a part of the SIG, and the yearly activities. In our meeting, officers will report on our work from through out the year, give awards to honor scholars, and also hear a special paper presentation on Indigenous students’ sense of belonging during their first year in college.

  • Friday, April 17 (12:25-1:55 pm) Humanizing Research Praxis Toward Indigenous Justice: A Fireside Chat, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level, Hong Kong

This is a special session convened by the Social Justice Action Committee, as envisioned and organized by myself and my fantastic program co-chair Dr. Cueponcaxochitl D Moreno Sandoval. Building on Dr. Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s 2012 AERA Opening Plenary speech, “The knowing circle of Indigenous education: It is not enough just to know” and engaging the ideals of Humanizing Research, edited by Drs. Django Paris and Maisha T. Winn in their recent book “Humanizing research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and their communities” (2014), this fireside chat continues the conversations about the complex and dynamic intersections of culture, language, and heritage in developing a research praxis. Dr. Graham Smith, along with Drs. Paris and Winn, along with emerging Indigenous scholars will speak to the ways that scholarship, educators, and institutions can undertake a critical-theory view and implement policies and strategies to include the principles of Indigenous-human justice and move us from knowing to action.

  • Saturday, April 18 (2:45-4:15 pm) AERA SIG Executive Committee and 2016 Annual Meeting SIG Program Chairs Centennial Planning, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level, Atlanta

In this governance session, key members of AERA will be present to discuss the planning of the 100th annual meeting of the AERA, to be held in Washington, D.C. in 2016 (hopefully by April of next year there will be no more flu there waiting for me!). I and my co-chair, along with other program chairs have been invited to engage in conversation about innovative, collaborative practices that our SIGs use to develop programs.

  • Monday, April 20 (10:35-12:05 pm) Indigenous Students Navigating Identity, Motivation, and Epistemology in Education: A Fireside Chat, Hyatt, West Tower, Gold Level, Acapulco

As this session is so dear to me, I am happy that it is the last one of this series of key sessions for my 2015 conference schedule. Dr. Eve Tuck began the fireside mentoring series at the 2013 AERA when Dr. Crystal Jensen and I were still graduate student assistants helping her with some of the program duties. Now in its third year, the session brings invited advancing scholars and mentor scholars into conversation with each other in round-table style presentations and dialogues about scholarship and navigating academic careers. The session is fluid in its form, incorporating whole group and small group teachings and learning. The session is always re-shaping based on the needs of our scholars and is a really great place to spend some time thinking together about the ways we move among our many different communities.


Invited Talk at Indigenous Policy and Law Conference

Academics, Presentations

On Friday morning, I returned from a very cold place. I mean that literally – when my flight left East Lansing, Michigan at 7 am, it was just 4 degrees F outside. Although I was as cold as I have ever been (living in the desert means I don’t have the kind of footwear appropriate for such visits), I was honored and excited to have participated in the 11th Annual Indigenous Policy and Law Conference and Michigan State University. I thank the organizers for reaching out and welcoming me to a new professional circle. I hope to continue to follow their work in the future as they continue pushing the boundaries of self-determination among Indigenous peoples. For a glimpse of our day together, check out my storify feed below which features my live tweets and pictures from the MSU Indigenous Policy and Law Center blog!

A Digital Workflow to Manage Your Academic Life: Redux

Academics, Productivity

Back in January of 2013, I wrote about a digital workflow for managing all my scholarly references via an Android platform. See the post here. Things have changed, namely, I have finally given in to the iPad. My workflow remains pretty similar but the hardware and software updates have actually made it worlds easier. The android system is still viable, but with the ubiquitousness of the iPad, I decided it was time to write a post for all the Apple users out there.

With my office desktop, iPad, and smartphone, I have all the tools I need to help me accomplish a smooth process of researching and writing. The following software and hardware tips are suitable for new and seasoned academics alike. Please feel free to share how you manage your digital space too!

My workflow now includes three pieces of software:

1. Dropbox which I use to sync all my current class, paper, and project files to my desktop, tablet, and smartphone

Dropbox is a cloud computing tool that allows users access to free online space and will sync files across any devices you install on. I currently use the application on my office desktop, tablet, and smartphone. I keep the folder for syncing on my desktop and place all my current project files in it so I have access anywhere since any item in the folder are automatically shared with my other devices. You can also share specific folders with project collaborators while keeping the majority of your files private.

2. Mendeley for syncing all my citation information, reference notes, and automated “cite while you write” (on my smartphone I can search and forward citations to fellow scholars while conversing in the halls or between conference sessions without worrying about forgetting later which is an additional bonus)

I like Mendeley because it has a desktop interface that allows me to use it when I’m not online, yet still synchs all my materials to the online space and all my other devices just like Dropbox. It keeps all my citations up to date. You can store actual copies of references (up to 2 GB) for free, or, use the workflow tips below to keep them organized through your Dropbox and never pay anything!

Mendeley is supported on the iOS, meaning the apps for your phone and iPad are developed by the same developers of the system.

3. iAnnotate PDF for highlighting and annotating of all those references right on my tablet screen – link takes you to iTunes as I am writing about the iPad here, but the app is available from GooglePlay as well. Back when I wrote my original workflow automation post (again, see link here) the app was free. It is now $10 on the iTunes store, but in my opinion worth the money. Keep reading below to find out why.

Now, my updated workflow from my earlier post simply incorporates my tablet computer. This allows me to work on-the-road or between meetings without finding an office space.


1. Drag a PDF file from the downloads folder into Mendeley desktop (or, if like me you already have folders full of them, you can bulk drag-and-drop). Another option is to use the web importer button for more than 30 different sites to instantly import citations from places like Amazon, Google Books, EBSCO, JSTOR, SAGE, etc.

2. Delete the original file if you used the drag-and-drop method above because the re-named file is already sorted into Dropbox. (More on this later.)

3. Check the reference information for accuracy in Mendeley. The program automatically pulls a variety of meta-data and fills it in for you, but it isn’t always perfect. Make any changes needed, then click the “information is correct” button. Add your tags and sort it into any collection you need. After checking it this once, you never have to enter the information in again.

4a. In the notes tab, I fill in my notes while I read, highlight on the PDF in Mendeley, etc. For books from seminars I copy and paste in my book synopsis papers and then go back and insert additional notes after class discussions. If you take your laptop to class with Mendeley, you can add your notes automatically in the program to any citation.

4b. Alternatively, because the file is in my Dropbox, I can open it on my tablet in iAnnotate PDF. In this new version of iAnnotate, you can automatically sync folders or files from your Dropbox to store locally, bypassing the need to remember to download your articles before you get on that plane as you head to a conference! This is a huge time saver since Dropbox for iOS will only store “favorite” files or require you to manually download a copy of whichever article you want (and it means my entire library is always with me). Then, using my GoSmart stylus (the most accurate for fine lines and highlighting that I’ve found, also durable) I can highlight, add comment, handwrite notes, etc. to my heart’s content. Then, using the “email annotations” function, I email all my notes to myself for copying and pasting into the notes tab in Mendeley once I return home. Using this, I can sit by my fireplace and read for hours, read on the plane, or wherever I am that is more comfortable than remaining at my desk all the time. I find I get much more done in reviewing literature using this feature because it gets me out in new locations and keeps me away from the distractions of multiple open windows on my desktop. Since the .pdf files with the annotations are opened through Dropbox, they are automatically synched back to all your other devices. I use the copy-paste function for my notes though so that I have something quick to skim when I am searching through my references while writing.

*Note that if your Mendeley library is under 2GB, you can sync everything right inside Mendeley and skip iAnnotate, but I will tell you that after 5 years as a graduate student I have nearly 3GB of pdfs that I’ve held on to and my library grows weekly. Getting into the habit of sending things to Dropbox as a multiple backup system is also strongly suggested!

5. Use the Cite While You Write tool to automatically generate citations in a variety of formats in Word (also works in Open Office, Google Docs). At the end of your document, “insert bibliography” to instantly get a perfectly formatted References list that doesn’t require you to comb through the paper making sure you haven’t missed one.

Check out my previous post on the UCD NAS Grad Student blog in order to walk you through the steps of setting up you Mendeley and Dropbox sync.

Published: Research on Indigenous Identity and Membership

Academics, Publications

The International Journal of Diverse Identities
Volume 12, Number 4, 2013
Federal unenrollment impacts on scholar careers: A study on indigenous identity and membership in academia

You can find the entire article here.

Abstract: As universities across the country are becoming more diverse, responding to the impacts that assumptions about others have on the way we interact with colleagues, research participants, and communities is crucial for all scholars. In particular, the politics of identity, both actual and perceived, for Indigenous scholars in the Western Hemisphere are uniquely complex. Through a review of the relevant literature, I describe influences on scholar identity formation, and discuss individual impacts of working within campus climates while experiencing microaggression. Utilizing Indigenous voices as the focal data, I explore the experience of scholars in post-secondary institutions in the United States in relation to historical factors that have determined Indigeneity by colonial and racist measures. This was a mixed-methods study, utilizing an online survey and oral history interviews to explore the multiple interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples pertinent to academic scholars who are not federally recognized yet still identify themselves as Indigenous. Demographic characteristics and relevant experiences of Indigenous scholars in tertiary institutions throughout the United States are described. Obstacles to scholar confidence and support systems were identified within families, communities, and institutions. Participating scholars’ experiences ranged from being comfortable with the difference between themselves and their colleagues to reports of ignorant remarks, conflicts between those with Recognized and non- Recognized statuses, and work environments where Indigenous selves were masked to the point of not existing beyond the assumptions of others based on skin color. This preliminary work is the first project of its kind and provides groundwork for further exploration about the marginalization of Indigenous scholars in postsecondary institutions and the impact of disparate experiences on unrecognized Indigenous scholars in a variety of academic fields.

Cited: The First Citation

Academics, Cited

I was just informed by my wonderful fellow UCD graduate colleague (and friend) Dr. Kristina Casper-Denman, professor at American River College, that she has cited my work in her dissertation. To my knowledge this is the first citation of my published work.

Her dissertation, “California Indian Education Association (CIEA): Working Towards Educational Sovereignty” explores the history of indigenous educational movements in California and suggests that the future of of academic sovereignty lies in continued reclaiming by the indigenous nations across the state and improved methods for increasing cultural competency of school instructors at all grade levels.

Congrats to Dr. Casper-Denman who earned her Ph.D. in Native American Studies in 2013!

After the Ph.D.


It is with great excitement that I announce the first part of my post-Ph.D. journey: this Friday I begin my postdoctoral work at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University! I have just moved to Arizona (and yes, in July and August it is HOT) but am looking forward to what awaits me under the supervision of Dr. Audrey Beardsley. Arizona is a really unique place with small, rural indigenous communities; small and large reservations that cross state and nation boundaries; and large, urban centers. With a number of well-respected scholars in my field, I know ASU will be a really great place to learn and grow over the next two years.