I am an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota. I am also descended from the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. I was raised on the Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation in South Dakota and in St. Paul, Minnesota by my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I originally trained to become a community and environmental planner at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). From 1992-2001 I worked on various planning projects for national tribal organizations, tribal governments, federal agencies and in private consulting. I worked primarily on projects having to do with tribal government interests in nuclear waste management and on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded project to explore the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI,) for indigenous peoples of human genetic research. Realizing that my deeper intellectual interests were in the cultures and politics of science and technology and their implications for tribes and other indigenous peoples, I returned to graduate school. I completed in 2005 a Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz in History of Consciousness. Working with Professors James Clifford and Donna Haraway, I wrote a dissertation exploring the concept of "Native American DNA" as an object of human population genetics research and as a focus of the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) genetic ancestry testing industry. I taught for 18 months at Arizona State University in Tempe in the Department of American Indian Studies before spending one year as a President's Postdoctoral Fellow in both Gender & Women's Studies and in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008 I was hired as Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy in the ESPM Division of Society & Environment.
My niece, Kimia Lee TallBear
During the 2012-13 academic year, I was a Donald D. Harrington Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 I accepted a position as Associate Professor of Anthropology and Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) at Texas, a department and program comprised of diverse colleagues and students who have warmly welcomed me. I finally figured out that I am a plains person at heart. I needed to be back under these big and tumultuous mid-continent skies. I remain on a 0% appointment at Berkeley so I can finish working with my graduate students there. I study the ways in which genetic science is co-constituted with notions of race and indigeneity and I have a just published book on the subject, Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. More broadly, I am interested in the historical and ongoing roles of science and technology (technoscience) in the colonization of indigenous peoples and others. Yet because tribes and other indigenous peoples insist on their status as sovereigns, I am also interested in the increasing role of technoscience in indigenous governance. How do U.S. tribes and others resist, regulate, collaborate in, and initiate research and technology development in ways that support self-governance and cultural sovereignty? What are the challenges for indigenous peoples related to science and technology, and what types of innovative work and thinking occur at the interface of technoscience and indigenous governance? Finally, how will indigenous governance of and through research and technology development affect the priorities, practices, and values of technoscientific fields? I bring into my research, collaborations, and teaching indigenous, postcolonial, and feminist science studies analyses that enable not only critique but generative thinking about the possibilities for democratizing science and technology.
As for knowledge production outside the academy, I am a member of the Oak Lake Writers, a group of Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) writers. I am also Content Editor of our Web page: www.oaklakewriters.org. We meet annually at the Oak Lake Field Station in southeastern South Dakota. Our works include This Stretch of the River(2006), a collection of memoirs, historical and critical essays, and poems. The volume documents Oceti Sakowin relationships with Mnisose (the Missouri River) and other rivers in our historic homelands, especially in the wake of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition. Our collection, He Sapa Woihanble (Black Hills Dream), was released in August 2011 by Living Justice Press (St. Paul, MN). This volume documents Oceti Sakowin peoples' ongoing relationships with He Sapa or the Black Hills.
I write mostly within the confines of the academic social sciences and humanities, but my time with the Oak Lake Writers has prompted two important developments in my work. I developed a conversational method of knowledge production, the "dialogue," that served as the basis for a multi-authored piece in This Stretch of the River. The method looped back to inform my social science work as I seek to build knowledge collaboratively with community members, scientists, and others that I might study. The Oak Lake Writers have also inspired me to take up in creative prose format my favorite academic topic, technoscientific cultural politics. That piece, Posts from en Route, is published in the Black Hills volume.
L to R: Elden Lawrence, Kim TallBear, Charles Woodard (SDSU Organizer),Gabrielle Wynde-Tateyuskanskan, Kathryn Akipa, Joel Waters, Tasiyagnunpa Livermont, Jodi Byrd (co-mentor), Craig Howe, Florestine Kiyukanpi-Renville, Karen Pratt, Darren Renville, and Deanna Stands.