Lead Faculty 2012-13


The faculty of the EILI consists of lead faculty and cultural knowledge holders, all of whom are experts in a wide range of topical areas and issues relevant to the interests of Indigenous peoples in the Great Basin region.  The faculty also serve as mentors and leadership models for the students.

Brian “Mike” Myers

Brian “Mike” Myers was born and raised on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation in Western New York.  He is a member of the Wolf Clan, and is a father to six children and grandfather to twelve.  Mike has been active in Indigenous affairs, issues and development efforts for more than 30 years, beginning with his participating in the occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969.  His activism and work has brought him to work with and be assistance to Indigenous nations, communities and organizations throughout North America and internationally.  He is a published author beginning with “A Basic Call To Consciousness”, Akwesasne Notes (1977) “Traditional Teachings” North American Indian Traveling College (1980) and “The Power Within People” Tribal Sovereignty Associates (1986) as well as numerous articles and papers for publications and conferences.  In addition to his non-fiction work, Mike has written several children’s stories, short stories, and recently finished his first novel.  Mike resides with his wife, Birdie Lyons, and their three sons at the Leech Lake Territory of the Ojibwe Nation.


Waziyatawin is a Dakota writer, teacher, and activist committed to the pursuit of Indigenous liberation and reclamation of homelands.  Her work seeks to build a culture of resistance within Indigenous communities, to recover Indigenous ways of being, and to eradicate colonial institutions.  She is currently writing on the topics of Indigenous women and resistance and Indigenous survival in the collapse of industrial civilization.  Waziyatawin comes from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota.  After receiving her Ph.D. in American history from Cornell University in 2000, she earned tenure and an associate professorship in the history department at Arizona State University where she taught for seven years.  Waziyatawin currently holds the Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria.  She is the author or co/editor of six volumes, including What Does Justice Look Like? The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland (St. Paul: Living Justice Press, 2008), which won the 2009 Independent Publishers’ Silver Book Award for Best Regional Non-Fiction in the Midwest, and For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook (Santa Fe: SAR Press, forthcoming in November 2012).


Course 2 - Indigenous Peoples’ Rights-International and Domestic Contexts

Course One - Indigenous Nation Building

Glenn T. Morris

Professor Morris' areas of expertise are indigenous peoples in the international legal and political arena, public law, civil liberties, and race/gender and the law. He has been active in the development of international legal standards for the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples for over twenty-five years. In the area of indigenous peoples' rights, he teaches "Indigenous Peoples' Politics," "Indigenous Political Systems," and "Advanced Indigenous Politics." As a graduate of Harvard Law School, he also teaches a variety of law-related courses for the department, including "Race, Gender, Law and Public Policy," "Contemporary Issues in Civil Liberties," "Judicial Politics," and a freshmen seminar, "Law 101." Morris serves as the pre-law advisor for the department, and is one of two pre-law advisors for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Professor Morris directs the Fourth World Center (FWC) for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics at CU-Denver. The FWC provides resources, research and other opportunities for the examination of the condition of indigenous peoples in a global context.  In 2010 and 2011, Morris and the FWC supervised the participation of ten indigenous students at the 9th and 10th Sessions of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.  Professor Morris has been permanently designated a President's Teaching Scholar (the highest peer-awarded teaching/scholarly recognition from the University of Colorado). He has also been the recipient of the Rosa Parks Civil Rights Award, Native American Educator of the Year Award, and the Martin Luther King Peace Award.

Course 3 - Indigenous Wellness and Health Communities

Laura Calmwind

Laura Calmwind, of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug located in what is known as the Treaty # 9 territory is currently employed as the regional youth coordinator for the Chiefs in Ontario.  Laura works closely with the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council, a regional youth council mandated to serve as the official youth voice for the Ontario First Nations at all levels of government.  Laura is closely connected to her culture and traditions and is a fluent speaker of her Indigenous language, Anishnabamowin.  Laura enjoys spending time with Elders and traditional knowledge practitioners and is an avid participant to cultural ceremonies and events.    Laura is also a long-time Indigenous rights activist.   She is committed to the promotion and protection of all sacred living things. 

Jason Corwin

Jason Corwin (Seneca) is the program coordinator for Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective and a visiting faculty member of the Emerging Indigenous Leaders Institute. An avid photographer since the age of 3, he has been an independent videographer for the last 15 years working primarily on documentaries. He is a PhD candidate in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University working on a participatory action research project focused on digital media production and storytelling for environmental and social justice education.

Course 4  - Indigenous Centered Education

Dr. Leonie Pihama

Dr. Leonie Pihama is from the Te Atiawa and Ngati Mahanga nations of Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the Director of Maori and Indigenous Analysis Ltd, Senior Research Fellow at the Kotahi Institute, University of Waikato, Associate Professor at Auckland University, and Adjust Fac-ulty Associate Professor at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi. She currently serves on the Consti-tutional Advisory Panel to the New Zealand Government. She is a Fulbright Alumna and member of Te Whare Pora Hou and the Aotearoa in Support of Idle No More movement. Most importantly she is a mother to six children and one grandchild.

Course 4 - Sustainable Indigenous Families and Communities

Deborah Tewa

Debby Tewa, Hopi tribal member, has been working in the tribal renewable energy industry for 30 years. She brings with her a great diversity and wealth of experience. In 1996 Ms. Tewa managed NativeSUN, a 501 (c) 3 not for profit enterprise promoting renewable energy technologies. The business offered customers off-grid photovoltaic systems, small wind turbine, solar water pumping, composting toilets, and propane refrigerators; including operation and maintenance. Since that time Ms. Tewa has worked with Sandia National Laboratories, assisting with the U.S. Department of Energy Tribal Energy Program, providing tribes technical assistance and educational workshops. She has also worked with the Governor’s Office of Energy Policy as the coordinator for renewable energy and tribal programs, planning and organizing energy-related workshops for Arizona Tribal entities on: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant; Green Building; tours of large scale solar generating facilities in Arizona; Peer Exchange – networking opportunity on utility scale renewable energy systems, financing, renewable energy credits, business development, and related topics; and facilitate a 40 hour theory and hands-on off-grid photovoltaic workshop.

Ms. Tewa is currently a faculty member with the Central Arizona College providing classroom and practical instruction in designing and installation of both off-grid and grid-tied residential photovoltaic system, including operation and maintenance. Given her teaching commitment with Central Arizona College, Ms. Tewa role with TCERC will be limited to the summer months and focus on providing training, technical assistance and outreach to tribes working to advance their renewable energy programs.  She is a graduate of Northern Arizona University with a degree in Applied Indigenous Studies with an emphasis in environmental management.


Sharon H. Venne

Sharon H. Venne is an Indigenous Treaty person (Cree) and by marriage a member of the Blood Tribe within Treaty 7 with one son.  She has worked at the United Nations prior to the establishment of the Working group on Indigenous Peoples in 1982.  The background research to the many clauses on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is included in her book: Our Elders Understand Our Rights: Evolving international law regarding Indigenous Peoples.  In addition, Sharon has written numerous articles and edited materials related to the rights of Indigenous Peoples. She has lectured on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, Hawaii, United States and Canada.  In addition to her work on the Declaration, she worked to secure a UN Study on Treaties.  From the first introduction of the resolution in 1983 until the report was finalized in 1999, Sharon worked to ensure that the report reflected Indigenous laws and norms.  Sharon has written numerous articles on the Treaty Rights of Indigenous Peoples. All her work internationally and domestically relates to the promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples especially rights related to lands, resources and treaties.  Some of her works on laws of the Cree Peoples related to treaty making were published in Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada (Michael Asch ed.) and Natives and Settlers – Now & Then (Paul DePasquale ed.).