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Sapsik'ʷałá Faculty and Staff

The Sapsik'ʷałá Education Program is pleased to announce new faculty, Virginia Beavert, Ph.D., as Distinguished Elder Educator.

Faculty: Virginia Beavert, Ph.D. (Yakama Nation)

Virginia Beavert (Yakama), Ph.D., is Distinguished Elder Educator in the Sapsik'ʷałá Program at the University of Oregon. She is also a long-time Advisor to the Northwest Indian Language Institute. Dr. Beavert established the Sahaptin/Ichishkíin language program at the University of Oregon and continues to advise and teach within classes on language and culture. She has served widely as a leader for her Tribe and throughout Indian education, being the first woman elected as an officer of the Yakama Nation General Council Executive Board; she has published two dictionaries of Ichishkíin language. Her most recent book is Wántwint Inmí Tiináwit: A Reflection of What I Have Learned, published by the University of Washington Press.

Michelle Jacob's picture

Program Director, Principal Investigator and Faculty: Michelle Jacob, Ph.D. (Yakama Nation)

Michelle M. Jacob, Ph.D., is Professor of Indigenous Studies and Director of the Sapsik’ʷałá (Teacher) Education Program in the Department of Education Studies at the University of Oregon. Her research areas of interest include: Indigenous educational frameworks, Indigenous research methodologies, traditional ecological knowledge, health, Native feminisms, and decolonization. Her first book, Yakama Rising: Indigenous Cultural Revitalization, Activism, and Healing, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2013, analyzes the ways in which Yakama peoples resist the ongoing effects of colonialism through reclaiming cultural traditions. Dr. Jacob’s second book, Indian Pilgrims: Indigenous Journeys of Activism and Healing with Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2016, examines how Indigenous activism advances our understanding of community-building, environmentalism, and spirituality. Michelle is a member of the Yakama Nation. 

Links to books:

Yakama Rising:

Indian Pilgrims:

20% off discount use FLR when ordering Indian Pilgrims from the University of Arizona Press


Principal Investigator and Faculty: Jerry Rosiek, Ph.D. 

Jerry is a Professor in Education Studies and his areas of teaching and research include qualitative research and the cultural foundations of education. His scholarship is focused on developing a set of concepts and research practices that can enhance our understanding of teachers' practical knowledge. These efforts fall into three closely related areas:

  • Documenting the nature and content of the knowledge that enables teachers to better serve traditionally under-served groups of students. The commitment to promoting social justice in our educational system is at the heart of his work and is its ultimate justification;
  • Exploring the modes of representation needed to adequately represent this knowledge. Currently, he is focused on the use of narrative modes of representation;
  • Examining and responding to the epistemological and ideological questions raised by these methodological innovations and this line of inquiry.

Co-Principal Investigator and Faculty: Leilani Sabzalian, Ph.D. (Alutiiq) 

Leilani is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on creating spaces to support decolonization 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 Panel and strongly advocating for legislation such as Senate Bill 13, which requires and supports educators to teach about tribal history and sovereignty in K-12 public schools ( Leilani is currently working on a book, Urban Indigenous Education in Colonial Contexts: Survivance Stories of Teaching and Research, to provide educators and administrators with case studies to understand how colonialism continues to shape educational policy and practice.

Faculty: Joana Jansen, Ph.D. 

Joana Jansen, Ph.D., Linguistics, is the Associate Director of the University of Oregon's Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI) and Senior Research Associate of the Sapsik'ʷałá (Teacher) Education Program in the College of Education. NILI is internationally known in the fields of Indigenous language revitalization and teacher development and the Sapsik'ʷałá Program prepares Indigenous educators. Jansen's contributions to these programs and partnering Tribal communities are teacher education, project management, and descriptive linguistics for revitalization, including Indigenous language curriculum development. Her research addresses best practices and models for collaboration between academic institutions and Tribal communities; educator preparation; and linguistic description, analysis and revitalization of the Ichishkíin/ Sahaptin language, spoken by Tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest. She also investigates the development and impact of local, culturally informed place-based curriculum. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in language, linguistics, and teacher advocacy, and provides workshops and trainings for pre-service, in-service and Tribal educators.

Program Staff: Kelly LaChance, MEd. (Confederated Tribes of Siletz)

Kelly LaChance is the Assistant Program Director and works in many capacities for the program.