American Indian Studies


Teresa Williams León, Ph.D., Acting Director American Indian Studies

  • Ph.D. Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1997
  • M.A. Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1991
  • M.A. Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 1989
  • B.A. Japanese Language and Literature with a certificate in Ethnic Studies, University of Hawaii, Manoa, 1986
  • A.A. Asian Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, 1983

Dr. Williams León is the acting director of American Indian Studies and professor in Asian American Studies.  Her research, scholarship, and teaching have been on comparative mixed-race identities in Japan, the U.S., Hawai'i, and Latin America.  Her introduction to and love for Ethnic studies were first nurtured by her mentors and now ancestors, Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask, Dr. Dean Alegado, and Dr. Don Nakanishi.

Scott Andrews, Ph.D., Professor (view profile)

  • Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 20000
  • M.A., University of California, Riverside
  • B.A., University of Oklahoma, 1987

Dr. Andrews is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He teaches American and American Indian literatures in the English Department, and in AIS he teaches Introduction to American Indian Studies and American Indians & Popular Culture. Dr. Andrews has published book reviews, essays, fiction, and poetry. He serves on the editorial board for Transmotion: a journal of postmodern indigenous studies. He has served on the editorial board for Studies in American Indian Literatures. He also serves on the board of the American Indian Scholarship Fund of Southern California. He can be reached at

Alesha Claveria, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

  • Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2022
  • M.F.A., National University, 2013
  • M.S., Montana State University, 2007
  • B.S., Montana State University, 2004
  • A.A., Flathead Valley Community College, 2002

Dr. Claveria can be reached at

Julia Coates, Ph.D., Lecturer

•  M.A., Ph.D., University of New Mexico, 2002
•  B.A., San Francisco State University, 1991

Dr. Coates is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation; she was born in Pryor, Oklahoma, and raised in Northern California. She has worked for Native American non-profits, tribal governments, and non-governmental organizations. Dr. Coates was a delegate to the Cherokee Nation Constitutional convention, was the Project Director for the award-winning Cherokee Nation History Course, and is presently serving her third term on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. Dr. Coates is the author of a textbook on the Trail of Tears for high school and lower division college students. She has worked on research, grant writing, and conference production for the American Indian Studies Center at UCLA, and she has taught at UC Davis, Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, Pasadena City College, and UCLA Extension. She also conducts trainings in tribal governance for the Falmouth Institute.

Bert Maria Cueva, Ph.D., Lecturer

  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2013
  • M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1999 & 2008
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 1993

Kalani Heinz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

  • Ph.D.,  Hawaiian Archeology, UCLA,  2023
  • M.A., Archeology, UCLA, 2018
  • B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies:  The Comparative Studies of Sexualities, UC Berkeley, 2016

Dr. Kalani Heinz (she/they) is a recent graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles where she received her doctorate in Hawaiian archaeology. Their dissertation focused on archaeology as activism, namely decolonizing the discipline of archaeology and highlighting the potential historical and environmental data has for informing modern environmental justice movements. They are a National Science Foundation GRFP recipient and a Ford Foundation pre-doctoral scholar. Outside of her dissertation, she is passionate about Hawaiian culture-based education practices and Indigenous sciences. In her spare time, she serves as the second vice president for the Hawaiʻi’s Daughters Guild of California and the president-elect for the National Pacific Islander Education Network, two nonprofits in Southern California.

Pauline (Alvarez) Vasquez, M.A. Lecturer

  • M.A. in American Indian Studies, UCLA, 2017
  • B.A. in Sociology with a Minor in American Indian Studies, 2015

Professor Vasquez is alumni of CSUN's AIS Program.  She has taught Introduction to AIS (101), American Indian Law & Policy (304), and Gender, Sexuality and American Indian Communities (222).  Her Master's Thesis at UCLA in American Indian Studies was titled, " (Re)Inscription:  Reclaiming O'odham Identities through Tattoos."  Professor Vasquez was an outreach coordinator for CSUN's AIS Program, worked as a beading apprentice for the Tarahat Culture Circle at Pukúu Community Cultural Services in San Fernando, and served as a teaching assistant at the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network in Los Angeles.  Currently, Professor Vasquez is a student advisor at the Gila River Indian Community (CRIC) Tribal Education Department Student Services in Sacaton, Arizona.  She is the creator and editor of the zine Indigenous Ink. Her academic and political interests include the construction of Indigeneity, Indigenous urbanization, tattooing, tribal sovereignty, and Native feminisms.   Professor Vasquez is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community (in Arizona) and is also of Tohono O’odham descent. She was born and raised on unceded Tongva lands (Los Angeles).

G. Lola Worthington, Lecturer

  • B.A., B.F.A., CSULB, 1979, 1986
  • M.A., UCLA
  • Ph.D., ABD, UCLA, 2007
  • Certificates, CSULB, Kansai Gaidai, Osaka, Japan
Prof. Worthington's family and tribal communities are the Caddo, Delaware, and Pawnee tribes in Anadarko, Oklahoma. Her tribes were relocated in the mid-1860s to Indian Country by the federal government. She also has worked with the Gabrielino/Tongva Springs Foundation for 20 years at University HS on the Westside of Los Angeles. Her academic interests in American Indian Studies focuses on the duality of cross-cultural interactions between American Indian and Euro-Western societies, especially in regard to interdependent norms, such as science, fine arts, gender, governance, and history. Her research explores perspectives of communality integrated and resisted into total enculturation by mainstream society. She has taught AIS and Ethnic Studies courses in California universities for 25 years.