Q1: How did you become interested in your area of research?
A: I studied at the University of Sydney during a significant time of reconciliation between aboriginal people and the Australian government. When I came back to the U.S. to attend graduate school, I became more aware of indigenous politics in our own country. I thought it was crazy that we’ve ignored hundreds of Native nations when it comes to politics.
Q2: What do you hope students will take away from your courses?
A: I hope they emerge with a sense of political awareness. A lot of students have an attitude of, “Politics don’t matter to me. It doesn’t affect my life.” I hope that they leave with a sense of not only how they are affected, but also how their choices and actions can have an effect on the broader political dynamic.
Q3: You teach a music and politics course with Professor Laura Moore Pruett. Tell me about it.
A: The music and politics course is truly interdisciplinary. Students work through musical elements, such as the composition and construction of music, and then address political dynamics – whether it’s how music is used in political campaigns or social movements. We cover everything from the music made by cloistered nuns in the Middle Ages to Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” to contemporary songs that explore current events.
Q4: Are there any other research projects you’d like to explore?
A: I used to do work related to casinos, and I would love to get back into it. I have been tied up in a bigger project that relates to presidential statements on Native nations, but when it’s published I’d like to jump back into thinking about sovereignty and the dynamics related to casinos and their revenues.
Q5: What advice do you have for college students?
A: I would love for students to take a random class that just sounds fun. That’s one of the joys of college. Learn about things because they’re interesting. Try something new.