Indigenous Speaker Series


Throughout 2020 – 2021, CGS has been a proud co-sponsor of the virtual Indigenous Speaker Series, organized by the Salish Sea Research Center and hosted by the Northwest Indian College – Nez Perce. The series amplifies voices of Indigenous people and promotes a dialogue about Indigenous people’s cultural and traditional lived experiences.

Since January 2020, the Series has invited speakers from Northwest Indian College, University of Washington, Western Washington University, Michigan State University, Little Big Horn College, among other institutions, with global prospects for coming speakers. Speakers have varying backgrounds and share their cultural, traditional, and academic lived experiences in modern society while honoring their long standing relationship and responsibility to their homelands, communities, and ancestors.  Research is living and developing through the conversations among the presenters, participants, and facilitators.

We invite you to learn more about the series by visiting the Indigenous Speaker Series website and exploring the speakers and talks co-sponsored by CGS, below.

CGS co-sponsored sessions

Indigenous Speaker Series 22 | 3/26/21

Pah-tu Pitt – Re-localizing Native Leadership in Environmental Narratives and Economy

Pah-tu Pitt (Warm Springs/Wasco) holds Environmental Graduate and undergraduate degrees. She believes strongly in grassroots climate resiliency efforts, and organizes within the community and in solidarity. Her strategies include an emphasis on food sovereignty, relationship to place, understanding of ecosystems, re-localizing trade, centering community, and creating art. Through Native Kut, she produces art, consults, and runs an Airbnb, with a Native arts theme.

Watch the video recording.

Indigenous Speaker Series 23 | 3/31/21

Merisa Jones – Achieving Educational Sovereignty:
Continuing the Vision of Our Old People

Merisa Jones is a member of the Lummi Nation located in Bellingham, WA. She currently holds the position as the Department Chair of the Native Studies Leadership program at the Northwest Indian College. Merisa Jones is an alumni of the Northwest Indian College and has since obtained her Masters of Public Administration in Tribal Governance from The Evergreen State College and is currently working towards her Indigenous based Education Leadership Doctoral Degree at the University of Washington- Tacoma. Throughout her education journey she has been passionate about researching ways to achieve education sovereignty and work towards decolonization within in the education system.

Joannie Romero – Rematriation Through Land-Based Connection During the Time of COVID-19 

​​Joannie Romero (Pueblo of Cochiti, NM) is the founder of Corn Pollen Consulting, LLC, a Native American, Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) dedicated to providing culturally-responsive strategies to solve the educational, political, and social justice issues facing Indian Country in the 21st century. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Laguna Community Foundation based within the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico. In 2017, Romero earned a Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law Degree from the University of Tulsa, College of Law. Currently, Romero is a doctoral student at the University of Washington where she is pursuing an Ed.D in Educational Leadership (Muckleshoot Cohort).

Watch the video recording.

Indigenous Speaker Series 25 | 5/24/21

Mark Clytus – Cultural Engineering (Concepts) and its influence on STEAM

Mark Clytus is married to a beautiful Dine’ woman with four kids, and is a PhD student of American Indian Studies, with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management and Policy, at the University of Arizona. He has a professional background with 15 years in the engineering field, including over six years of experience working as a structural design engineer with The Boeing Company. He has also workeded with Navajo tribal programs to implement various program goals and objectives.

Solo Greene – Identity: Who We Are

Solo Greene (Nez Perce) is an Education Specialist for Nez Perce Tribe and a motivational speaker. He loves coaching, teaching and working with people to better themselves mentally, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. He emphasizes understanding the importance of being who we are and our connection and responsibility to the land and the earth, thinking not only about wellness and balance for oneself, but also for one’s children and future generations.

Watch the video recording.

Indigenous Speaker Series 26 | 5/26/21

Angela Fernandez and Wade Fernandez: Netāēnewēmākanak – Inviting All Of Our Relatives to the Table


Angela Fernandez, PhD, MSW, LICSW, is originally from the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin. She completed her BSW at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her MSW and PhD at the University of Washington. She served as a Youth Development Worker in the Children, Youth and Families Program during her two years of service in Peace Corps, Costa Rica, then returned to Wisconsin where she worked as a social worker and psychotherapist at a federally qualified community health center. While working in Wisconsin, she also served on boards and volunteered within the Latino and American Indian communities, as well as participated in two international social justice (South Africa) and Indigenous human rights (Colombia) delegations. She is a recipient of the McNair Fellowship.

Wayne Fernandez/Wiciwen Apis-Mahwaewe [Walks with the Black Wolf] is of the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin. He is an award winning and international touring musicall artist, eduator, activist, speaker, and community health worker. Although he enjoy starveling around the world sharing and learning with his five children, he is also at home in the peace ad quiet of the beautiful ancient forest of his ancestors that can be found on the Menominee Reservation.

Watch the video recording.

Indigenous Speaker Series 27 | 6/30/21

Althea Walker – Building Bridges

Althea Walker has tribal affiliations with the Nez Perce, Hopi, and Gila River nations, and is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community In addition, she holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Technology Management from the Arizona State University Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. For the past three years she has worked for the Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality as an environmental education and outreach specialist. Among other accomplishments, she has also served as a National Science Foundation Intern and is a former intern for ITEP.

Stacia Morfin & Ciarra Greene – Titóoqanaawit (Way of Life)


Stacia Morfin (Indian name: Takes Care of Water) grew up at lepwéyma (Lapwai) and šimiinekem (Lewiston). She is a citizen of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) nation and owner of Nez Perce Tourism, LLC doing business as a traditions gift shop. The vision of Nez Perce Tourism revealed itself to her in 2017, when a Nimíipuu elder appeared and instructed her to start a cultural tourism company to ensure that traditional knowledge and places continue to be shared amongst her people.

Ciarra Greene is an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT). Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) culture and traditions emphasize environmental stewardship and drives Ciarra’s academic, professional, and personal endeavors. She has her BS in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University (2012) and currently attends Portland State University (PSU).  At PSU, her graduate studies are funded by the National Science Foundation and focus on Native American traditional ecological knowledge and the Next Generation Science Standards Crosscutting Concepts of the Nature of Science. Dedicated to improving the lives of future generations, while honoring indigenous cultures, Ciarra contributes to community efforts in Portland, Oregon.

Watch the video recording.

Indigenous Speaker Series 31 | 10/13/21

Elise Gerrish – Healing the Sacred Circle

Elise Bill-Gerrish (Davis) is a Muckleshoot woman living in Puyallup, Washington. Coming from a family of educators, it comes as no surprise that she decided to pick up the educational torch as well. She works as a Muckleshoot Language Teacher to help revitalize the Southern Lushootseed Language, the language of her ancestors. Her proudest achievement is being a mother to her daughter, Lily Hope, who is often by her side while teaching their Native language and working with traditional plants.

Elise graduated from Antioch University Seattle in 2014 with a B.A. in Leadership and Organizational Studies. Her research during that time inspired a lifelong passion for social justice by advocating for holistic healing in all of its forms. She believes that it is essential to address historical trauma in Native communities in order to move forward in a ‘good way.’ Elise has volunteered by teaching about Food Sovereignty at Muckleshoot Tribal School’s annual Potlatch, classes with Green River Community College, and Antioch University Seattle. She has also spent time working in the Cascade Mountains near her tribe, leading a youth stewardship crew and filming a documentary about her tribe’s close relationship with the land.

After personally experiencing the restorative power of hot yoga, Elise became a Certified Hot Yoga Teacher in 2014. She has been practicing yoga for 8 years now. She also recently completed an Herbalism Certificate to supplement her work with traditional plants and medicine making. Feeling connected to the plants of the Pacific Northwest and the wisdom they hold, is a valuable traditional teaching she carries with her. Elise hopes to embrace the many modalities of healing she has experienced to help other Native people heal from their trauma.

Co-sponsored by the UW Center for Global Studies, the UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, UW Tacoma School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and the Salish Sea Research Center.