The Native American Studies Program is being coordinated out of the Department of American Studies, under the direction of Professor Nancy Struna. For more information about American Studies, please visit their website:

Janet Chernela
Janet Chernela has worked with the Native American populations of the Amazon Basin of Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador for over thirty years. She is author of the book, A Sense of Space: The Wanano Indians of the Brazilian Amazon and numerous articles on indigenous poetics, indigenous land use, and indigenous rights. As a practicing anthropologist, she is founder of the first indigenous women's association in Brazil and has helped to design indigenous land use projects. She teaches courses in Language and Culture, Conservation and Indigenous Peoples, and leads an overseas course to the Kayapo territories in the Brazilian Amazon. She is a recognized participant in the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Xenia Strunnikova
Xenia Strunnikova is a senior Finance and Computer Science major. She is the co-president of Feminists for Sexual Health and became involved in The Native American Studies Movement at the University of Maryland during her junior year. After realizing the distinct lack of Native American centered courses she decided to join the movement in full force during her senior year. She has been working on identifying courses that could fulfill for the minor, meeting with professors to obtain more support and courses relating to Native American Studies, as well as organizing Native American events on campus, such as a Sunday Lakota language class. She hopes that other ethnic studies programs, as well as the energy this movement has generated will sustain a Native American Studies Program at UMD for many students to come.

John Francis Sciaraffa
I am a member of the Native American Working Group and the American Indian Student Union (AISU). I became an active student at Maryland because I wanted to facilitate a greater awareness of Indigenous culture, history, and issues. I was born in Latin America and have always had an interest in Maya languages and philosophy. This is the basis for my passion for Native American topics.

On my free time, I enjoy playing guitar and checking out live bands. My major is Linguistics with a minor in Philosophy.

Kiera Zitelman
Kiera Zitelman is a sophomore pursuing a major in Environmental Studies & Policy and a minor in Arabic Studies. After reading radical history books focusing on mostly ignored Native history and current issues, she joined efforts to create a Native American Studies program in fall 2010. Understanding and exploration of Native issues is essential to end the problems the Native American community has faced and will continue to grapple with.

Natalia Cuadra-Saez
Natalia Cuadra-Saez is a Senior History and Classics double major with a minor in Religious Studies. She became interested in Native American Studies after an Alternative Spring Break trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota her Sophomore year. The following year she continued to advocate for Native American Studies as a legislator in the Student Government Association and a member of the Diversity Steering Committee. Now she continues this advocacy work as a member of the Native American Studies Working Group. Natalia is also very involved in other advocacy issues on campus; she is President of both UMD Students for Justice in Palestine and Co-op Housing University of Maryland. She hopes to become a History teacher or community organizer after graduation.

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