Leilani Sabzalian

Profile picture of Leilani Sabzalian
Assistant Professor
College of Education, Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education, Curriculum & Teaching, Curriculum and Teacher Education, Educational Foundations, IRES, Sapsikwala Program
Phone: 541-346-1535
Research Interests: Indigenous Education, Native Feminisms, Curriculum Studies, Teacher Education, Elementary Social Studies Education


Dr. Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsik'wałá (Teacher) Education Program at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on creating spaces to support Indigenous students and Indigenous self-determination in public schools, and preparing teachers to challenge colonialism in curriculum, policy, and practice. She is also dedicated to improving Indigenous education in the state of Oregon by serving on the American Indian/Alaska Native State Advisory Committee, and collaborating with the Office of Indian Education on professional development to support the implementation of Tribal History/Shared History, a law that mandates curriculum on tribal history and sovereignty in all K-12 public schools in Oregon.

Dr. Sabzalian's first book, Indigenous Children's Survivance in Public Schools, uses storytelling to document the ways colonialism continues to shape educational policy and practice, and foster educators’ anticolonial literacy and commitment to supporting Indigenous students in public schools. Her latest book, Teaching Critically About Lewis and Clark: Challenging Dominant Narratives in K-12 Curriculum, co-authored with Drs. Alison Schmitke and Jeff Edmundson, complicates the Corps of Discovery and promotes students' active and critical engagement with history. 


2015               Doctor of Philosophy, Critical and Sociocultural Studies, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

2003               Master of Education, Educational Leadership, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

2002               Bachelor of Arts, Educational Studies, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Honors and Awards

2020               Outstanding Book Award, American Educational Research Association (AERA) 

2020                Human Rights Leadership Award, Springfield Alliance for Education and Respect (SAFER)

2019                Indigenous Educator of the Year, Oregon Indian Education Association

2018                Honorable Mention, National Council of Teachers of English English Journal Edwin M. Hopkins Award

2017                Curriculum Inquiry Writing Institute Fellow, Ontario, CA

2017                Outstanding Dissertation Award, Narrative SIG, American Educational Research Association

2016                Outstanding Dissertation Award, Division B, American Educational Research Association

2016                Outstanding Dissertation Award Runner-Up, Qualitative Research Special Interest Group, American Educational Research Association

2015                Wayne Morse Dissertation Fellowship, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics (declined due to other accepted award)

2014                National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship



Schmitke, A., Sabzalian, L., & Edmundson, J. (2020). Teaching critically about Lewis and Clark: Challenging dominant narratives in K-12 curriculum. New York: NY. Teachers College Press. https://www.tcpress.com/teaching-critically-about-lewis-and-clark-9780807763704

Sabzalian, L. (2019). Indigenous children's survivance in public Schools. Routledge Education Series: Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education. Series Editors Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. https://www.routledge.com/Indigenous-Childrens-Survivance-in-Public-Schools/Sabzalian/p/book/9781138384507

PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES (If you cannot access an article and would like a copy, please email me.)

Sabzalian, L., (2021). Indigenous internationalism: Land-centered literacies and education for resurgence. Research in the Teaching of English 56(1), 112-115.

Sabzalian, L., Shear, S.B., & Snyder, J. (2021). Standardizing Indigenous erasure: A TribalCrit and QuantCrit analysis of K-12 US civics and governemnt standards. Theory & Research in Social Education, 47(3), 321-359. 

McCoy, M.L., Sabzalian, L., & Ender, T. (2021). Alternative strategies for family history projects: Rethinking family history projects in light of Indigenous perspectives. The History Teacher, 53(3), 473-508

Cordes, A., & Sabzalian, L. (2020). The urgent need for anticolonial literacy. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 22(2), 182-201. https://ijme-journal.org/index.php/ijme/article/view/2443/1379

Sabzalian, L., Morrill, A., & Edmo, S. (2019). Deep organizing and Indigenous studies legislation in Oregon. Journal of American Indian Education, 58(3), 34-57.

Jacob, M.M., Beavert, V., Anderson, R., Sabzalian, L., & Jansen, J. (2019). The importance of Ichishkíin in advancing Indigenous feminist education. Feminist Studies, 45(2/3), 1-22.

Jacob, M.M., Sabzalian, L., RunningHawk Johnson, S., Jansen, J., & Morse, G.S. (2019). We need to make action NOW, to help keep the language alive: Navigating tensions of engaging Indigenous educational values in university education. American Journal of Community Psychology, 64(1/2), 126-136. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ajcp.12374

Sabzalian, L. (2019). The tension between Indigenous sovereignty and multicultural citizenship education: Toward an anticolonial approach to civic education. Theory and Research in Social Education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00933104.2019.1639572

Sabzalian, L., Miyamoto-Sundahl, R., & Fong, R. (2019). The time is now: Taking initiative for Indigenous studies in elementary curriculum. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies, 7(1), 6-19. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nu7Cba5ruZKiXMsbij8ZU2QEo1GQYp_h/view

Sabzalian, L. (2018). Curricular standpoints and Native feminist theories: Why Native feminist theories should matter to curriculum studies. Curriculum Inquiry, 4(3) 1-23. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03626784.2018.1474710

Jacob, M.J., Sabzalian, L., Jansen, J., Tobin, T.J., Vincent, C.G., & LaChance, K.M. (2018). The gift of education: How Indigenous Knowledges can transform the future of public education. International Journal of Multicultural Education20(1), 157- 185. http://www.ijme-journal.org/index.php/ijme/article/view/1534

Sabzalian, L. (2016). Native feminisms in motion. English Journal, 106(1), 23 – 30. http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/EJ/1061_sep2016/EJ1061Native.pdf


Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. (2019). Beyond Pocahontas: Learning from Indigenous women changemakers. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 31(3), 7-13. https://www.socialstudies.org/pulblications/ssyl/january-february2019/beyond-pocahontas-learning-from-indigenous-women-changemakers

Shear, S., Sabzalian, L., & Buchanan, L. (2018). Teaching Indigenous sovereignty in elementary civics education. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 31(1), 12-18. https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/ssyl/september-october2018/affirming-indigenous-sovereignty


Sabzalian, L., Malliett, D., & Helms, H. (2020). Indigenous education on Indigenous terms: A collective effort to support Indigenous education in a public school district. In M. Jacob & S. RunningHawk Johnson (Eds.). On Indian ground: A return to Indigenous knowledge: Generating hope, leadership, and sovereignty through education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Sabzalian, L., & Shear, S. (2018). Confronting colonial blindness in civics education: Recognizing colonization, self-determination, and sovereignty as core knowledge for elementary social studies teacher education. In S. Shear, C.M. Tschida, E. Bellows, L.B. Buchanan, & E.E. Saylor (Eds.). (Re)Imagining elementary socialsStudies: A controversial issues reader (153-176). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.


Dr. Sabzalian’s research areas of interest include: Indigenous education, Native feminisms, curriculum studies, teacher education, and elementary social studies education.