Shí éí Bilagáanaa nishłí̹ dóó Kinyaa’áanii báshíshchíín. Bilagáanaa dashicheii dóó Tsinaajinii dashinálí. Farina King yinishyé.
As a Diné scholar, I introduce myself by my clans and family history. I am Bilagáanaa (English-American), born for Kinyaa’áanii (the Towering House Clan) of the Diné (Navajo). My mother is of English-American descent from Michigan, and my father is Navajo from the Rehoboth, New Mexico checkerboard region of Diné Bikéyah (Navajo land). My maternal grandfather was European-American, and my paternal grandfather was Tsinaajinii (Black-streaked Woods People Clan) of the Diné. I am a citizen of the Navajo Nation. I was born in Tó Naneesdizí (Tuba City) and lived in the Navajo Nation as a small child, until my family moved to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area where my father worked for the Indian Health Service.
I accepted a position as the Horizon Chair in Native American Ecology and Culture and Associate Professor of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma, which begins in August 2022. I have been an Associate Professor of History at Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, in the homelands of the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees. I have also served as an affiliate of the Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Department and the Director of the NSU Center for Indigenous Community Engagement. I am the current President of the Southwest Oral History Association (2021-2022).
During the 2016-2017 academic year, I was The David J. Weber Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies of Southern Methodist University. I earned my Ph.D. in American history with an emphasis in Native American history at Arizona State University in 2016. My first book, The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century, was published by the University Press of Kansas in October 2018.
I was the Charles Eastman Dissertation Fellow (2015-2016) at Dartmouth College. I received my M.A. in African history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Brigham Young University with a double major in History and French Studies. I have studied several languages including French, Portuguese, Yoruba, Wolof, and Navajo, and I plan to learn more languages in the future.
My primary area of research is colonial and post-colonial Indigenous studies, mainly Indigenous experiences in colonizing forms of education, such as federal boarding schools for Native Americans in North America. My research traces the changes in Diné educational experiences through the twentieth century, using a hybrid approach of the Diné Sacred Four Directions. I have facilitated oral histories with Diné boarding school survivors, involving former students of the Intermountain Indian School, Crownpoint Indian Boarding School, Tuba City Boarding School, Leupp Boarding School, and Kayenta Boarding School.
The University of Arizona Press published Returning Home: Diné Creative Works from the Intermountain Indian School, in November 2021, which I co-authored with Drs. Michael Taylor and James Swensen. Returning Home features Diné students’ art, poetry, and writing of the Intermountain Indian Boarding School (1950-1984) from a traveling exhibit that Taylor, Swensen, and I organized as well as some of my oral histories with Intermountain alumni.
I also write and present about Native American and Indigenous Latter-day Saint experiences in the twentieth century, drawing from some interviews that I conducted for the Latter-day Saint Native American Oral History Project at the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies. I serve on the steering committee of Global Mormon Studies.
My greatest inspirations are my family, especially my three children. Other than learning different languages and having fun with my family, I love to sing and travel.