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Currently, I am a 2nd year PhD Student in Socio-Cultural and Indigenous Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, BC. As such, I am based out of Vancouver, BC, Canada and am preparing for my PhD comprehensive exams. As an anthropologist, my key research focuses are: Indigeneity; Indigenous identity-making; performance; traditionalism and tribalism; and urban Indigenous studies in Canada and Japan.


Principal Investigator

This project is part of the requirement for my PhD degree at UBC, started in September 2021. It builds off my MA research, but shifts focus to my own community of West Moberly First Nations (WMFN). With a particular focus on the movement towards language revitalization, this ethnographic project will work collaboratively with my own community of WMFN in northeastern British Columbia, Canada to employ Indigenous research methods and perspective to advance knowledge on the realities of being Indigenous in Canada and as part of a global, digitally connected society. It in part asks: How do local and global Indigenous community members influence, inspire, and disrupt each other’s identity-making processes? As a note, the term 'naachin' stems from the Dunne-Za word for Dreamers, which are/were community members gifted with unique knowledges through their dreams. My aim is to develop and advance academic and public understanding of multifaceted identity performance among Indigenous youth and community. As an urban Indigenous woman myself and community member, this project will offer first-hand and community-driven insights into the contemporary realities of being and becoming Indigenous when registered in a First Nations community of diverse and geographically dispersed members, and will serve as in part an autoethnography. This project is in the 'preliminary research' phase. The next phase of 'research fieldwork' will be conducted in Fall 2023, contingent on successful completion of my PhD comprehensive exams.

Mark Turin (Supervisor)

Patrick Moore (Committee Member)

Michael Hathaway (Committee Member)



From project website: "This project explores the hidden legacies of transnational Indigeneity and Indigenous diplomacy by examining two pivotal trips during which a group of Ainu delegates from Japan and a group of First Nations delegates from British Columbia traveled to China in the mid-1970s. They were impressed with what they saw in terms of education and Indigenous language promotion, and began to envision new kinds of activism in their home countries. Our Indigenous-majority team of Investigators, Collaborators and students will work collectively to carry out four key objectives: 1) engage with scholarship in Transnational Studies to provide alternatives to state-centered accounts, 2) show how Indigenous transnational diplomacy expands Indigenous Studies beyond domestic studies and offer non-oppositional frameworks that expands understanding of Indigenous agency; and 3) contribute to Asian Studies by analyzing transpacific connections, not just comparisons." Click here to learn more about this project.

Michael Hathaway (Co-Principal Investigator)

Aynur Kadir (Co-Principal Investigator)

Rick Colbourne (Contributor)

Glen Coulthard (Contributor)

Scott Harrison (Contributor)

Regina Baeza Martinez (Contributor)

Kate Hennessy (Collaborator)

Ann-Elise Lewallen (Collaborator)

George Nicholas (Collaborator)

Deanna Reder (Collaborator)

Rudy Reimer (Collaborator)

Saki Murontani (Artist)

Jacquelyn Yu (Web Developer)


Principal Investigator


This project was conducted through digitally-mediated fieldwork from 2020 to 2021, as part of the requirement for my MA degree at SFU. It's main goal was to seek to understand how Ainu in North America experience Indigenous identity-making. Working with eight young adults of self-identified Ainu ancestry, at various stages of their Ainu journeys, but all started within the last few years, I ask how Ainu and Ainuness is learned and understood through their primary connection and access to Ainu community and culture: digital spaces. My findings suggested that the Ainu identity-making of those who grew up and live in Japan is primarily shaped by Japanese Ainu experience, whereas for some American-Ainu, their identity-making is largely shaped by North American Indigenous experience. I argued that this in turn made American-Ainu uniquely subject to North American-based experiences and anxieties of culture appropriation, identity gatekeeping, and Indigenous authenticity, and what I call precarious indigeneity. The aim of this project was to expand public and academic narratives of Ainu identity-making that speaks to the diverse realities of learning what it means to be Ainu and Indigenous in present day and as multiethnic and digitally connected individuals and communities. As part of this project, I created a series of illustrations to demonstrate media representation of Ainu and North American Indigenous peoples, and various findings and ideas in my research. Click here to learn more about this project.

Michael Hathaway (Supervisor)

Kate Hennessy (Committee Member)

Decolonizing Urban Indigeneity and Diaspora (2019)

Principal Researcher

This project was part of my undergraduate degree, and resulted in the successful complete of my BA Honours thesis, titled “Decolonizing Urban Indigenous Studies: Defining and Redefining Indigeneity." It is a literary exploration and critique of the use of the diaspora model in framing urban Indigenous peoples, experiences and livelihoods. In it, I argue the need for a more inclusive framework that speaks to the diversity of urban Indigenous peoples, given that many of them, especially in Canada: 1) still reside on (urban) ancestral land and are therefore not displaced; 2) have little to no connection to a non-urban traditional homeland and as a result, may feel little to no cultural loss; and 3) live in places where recognized traditional territories are often either only a fraction of or not at all one’s ancestral lands, thus, showing that homeland-making can and does occur outside of ancestral lands. From this, I suggest the need to recognize and meaningfully engage with urban Indigenous experience and livelihoods as being authentically Indigenous and not of an inherent cultural, traditional, and land deficit. Growing up off-reserve and in densely populated cities, this project was what inspired my thirst for knowledge and passion in interrogating public and academic assumptions, generalizations, and expectations of Indigenous peoples, that are often rooted in colonialism, nation-state governance, and Christianity.

Michael Hathaway (Supervisor)

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