Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship Advisory Committee – 2023

A virtual meeting of the 2023 Luce Advisory Committee. Pictured top left to right: First Nations’ Kendall Tallmadge and Autumn Romero, Theresa Secord, and Heather Ahtone, Ph.D. ; middle row, left to right: Wayne Ducheneaux II, Sean Buffington (advisor), Dustin Burnette, and Trisha Moquino; bottom row, left to right: Brittani Orona, First Nations’ President Michael Roberts, Cheryl Ellenwood, Ph.D., and Charles Aulii Mitchell.


2023 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship Advisory Committee

Theresa Secord (Penobscot Nation) is a traditional basket maker and the founding director of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA).  During Theresa’s 21 years of leadership, MIBA was credited with saving the endangered art of ash and sweet grass basketry. Theresa has received a lifetime achievement award for artistic excellence from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Prize for Creativity in Rural Life from the Women’s World Summit Foundation at the UN, for helping basket makers rise out of poverty. Theresa works with artists to help them achieve their own goals of art and economic self-sufficiency through a long association with First Peoples Fund. She is a member of the governing board of Colby College Art Museum and a trustee at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, where she continues to advocate for Indigenous and under-represented artists. Theresa is a 2021 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow working to help strengthen the Indigenous language terminology of Wabanaki basketry.

Heather Ahtone, Ph.D., (Choctaw/Chickasaw) is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at First Americans Museum (FAM) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She has worked in the Native arts community since 1993 and has established a career as a curator, arts writer, and cultural researcher. She has held positions at the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum, the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts, with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and several positions at the University of Oklahoma (OU), including as a researcher in the School of Geology and Geophysics and as curator at OU’s art museum. She earned degrees at the Institute of American Indian Arts and OU, completing her formal education with a doctoral degree in interdisciplinary studies (art history, anthropology, Native American studies). Her current research explores the intersection between Indigenous cultural knowledge and contemporary arts. She continues to seek opportunities to broaden discourse on global contemporary Indigenous arts, especially as it fosters an understanding of the diverse Tribes in Oklahoma.

Wayne Ducheneaux II (Cheyenne River Sioux) grew up on his parents’ cattle ranch on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. His work for his Tribe included running the Cheyenne River Motel, a Tribal enterprise; serving two years as Tribal administrative officer; and serving the people of Cheyenne River as a District 4 Council Representative. He was selected for a two-year term as vice-chairman of the Tribe from 2012-2014. He is an alumnus of the Native Nation Rebuilders program from Cohort 3. Ducheneaux started his employment with the Native Governance Center in January 2016 as executive director.

Sean Buffington (Advisor to Committee) served as president of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia before joining the Luce Foundation as vice president in 2015.  During his tenure, the University developed and introduced an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum, launched a number of new degrees, and established a program for creative entrepreneurs. Before moving to Philadelphia, Sean was a senior administrator at Harvard University, initially overseeing inter-faculty initiatives in neuroscience, health policy, and environmental studies on behalf of the provost, and then managing Harvard’s arts and culture activities as associate provost. Sean received the A.B. summa cum laude from Harvard College and an M.A. in American culture from the University of Michigan. Sean served as an ex-officio member of the Selection Committee.

Gimiwan Dustin Burnette (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) is an Ojibwe language immersion educator and nonprofit entrepreneur committed to revitalizing the Ojibwe language. Over the past 10-plus years, Gimiwan Dustin has worked at several Ojibwe language immersion schools across Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is the founder of the Midwest Indigenous Immersion Network (MIIN), a community-based organization that promotes collaboration and curriculum development among Ojibwe educators. This network allows Ojibwe language instructors and administrators to informally share resources.

Trisha L. Moquino (Cochiti/Kewa/Ohkay Owingeh) is a mama, wife, daughter, niece. She is the co-founder of the Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC), a not-for- profit Indigenous Language Immersion Montessori School that houses a Keres immersion early-childhood classroom and a dual-language (Keres/English) elementary classroom. The vision for a school supporting Keres language/cultural learning and academic development came largely from Moquino’s master’s thesis in bilingual education at the University of New Mexico. For the last four years, Moquino has been working with her KCLC colleagues and Montessori partners to build the Indigenous Montessori Institute (IMI), a teacher training program that uses a Philosophy of Indigenous Education (PIE) and Montessori philosophy to approach teacher-education reform. Before KCLC and IMI, Moquino taught in public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education schools, but realized she was perpetuating an educational system that didn’t work for many Indigenous children, propelling her to develop a different approach to education for her own and other Pueblo children. Moquino is a founding board member of Montessori for Social Justice and was in the inaugural cohort of the Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellowship. Trisha is grateful to be the Keres Speaking Montessori Guide in the elementary classroom at KCLC as she gets to work with beautiful children from her Tribal community every day in their language of love, Keres.

Brittani R. Orona, Ph.D. (Hupa) is an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University and Board Secretary for Save California Salmon, a grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and restoring watersheds and fisheries across California. She received her Ph.D. in Native American studies with a designated emphasis in human rights at UC Davis in Spring 2022. Brittani has more than 15 years of experience working with state, local, and federal government on Tribal affairs issues, including repatriation, collections care, land management, traditional ecological knowledge, and Indigenous history. Her Ph.D. dissertation research focuses on Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk perspectives of visual sovereignty, memory, and human and water rights on the Klamath River Basin. Brittani received her M.A. in Native American studies from UC Davis, an M.A. in public history from California State University-Sacramento, and a B.A. in history from Humboldt State University.

Michael Roberts (Tlinget) is the president and CEO of First Nations Development Institute, a position he was appointed to in 2005 after having served as a research officer and chief operating officer for the organization from 1992 to 1997 and returning to First Nations in 2002. In the interim, Mike spent five years in private equity, during which he advised angel investors and worked for a $500 million telecommunications fund and for an early-stage Midwest venture capital firm. Mike also worked at Alaska Native corporations and for local IRA councils, primarily in accounting and finance. Mike serves on the board of First Nations Development Institute and is chairman of the board of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. He is on the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders Network and the Investment Committee for the Three Affiliated Tribes. Mike also serves on the board of directors for Native Ways Federation. Read Mike’s full bio here.

Cheryl Ellenwood, Ph.D., (Nez Perce & Navajo) is an Assistant Professor at Washington State University. She teaches courses in public administration and tribal nation building. Her research interests are in Indigenous organizations, philanthropy, social equity, and social policy. She has worked with Native-led organizations in both the public and private sector and is engaged in working with minority-led nonprofits and community-based nonprofits in traditionally underserved communities. She is a former development officer for a national Native nonprofit and has worked with several Native-led organizations. Cheryl has an M.A. in American Indian Studies with a focus on Indian law and policy from the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Arizona.

Charles Aulii Mitchell (Native Hawaiian) is a third-generation Kumu Hula of Hula Ki’i , a dance that was passed down to him through oral tradition by his grandfather Charles Cash and his mother Harriet Aana Cash Mitchell. By the time he was 12 years old, Charles earned the title of a Kumu Hula and was considered a kumu level hula teacher and knowledge keeper under his mother. He is one of only three family tradition holders of Hula Ki’i. What’s more, he is committed to creating, preserving, and perpetuating the practice of carving and dressing images for the ritual dancing of Hula Ki’i closest to the oldest written accounts. Charles earned an associate degree and bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, and a master’s in applied Indigenous knowledge from the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in New Zealand, as their first international student.

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