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Indigenous Author & Speaker
Renowned Scholar, Educator & Journalist
Travels from: Orange County, California

“Dina Gilio-Whitaker writes in succinct, powerful, and deeply historical ways about Natives and environmental justice or—almost always—lack thereof.” – Andrés Reséndez, author of The Other Slavery

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos and independent educator/advisor on Indigenous environmental issues. She is a sought-after speaker and has addressed and advised a wide array of academic disciplines and organizations in the realms of conservation, law, science, government, outdoor sports, and more. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in Indian Country Today, Los Angeles Times, High Country News, Sierra Magazine, Time.com, Slate, History.com, Bioneers, Truthout, the Pacifica Network, Grist, CSPAN Booktalk, The Boston Globe, and many more. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including awards from the Native American Journalists Association. Her research interests focus on Indigenous nationalism, self-determination, environmental justice, and education. For several years she was involved with Indigenous peoples’ participation in the United Nations arena. She also works within the academic field of critical sports studies, examining the intersections of indigeneity and the sport of surfing. Dina helped author AB 1782 in 2018, a bill to make surfing California’s state sport and regularly works within surf culture elevating the perspectives of Indigenous surfers, youth, and communities.

In 2016 she published her first book along with coauthor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, “All the Real Indians Died Off” and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Beacon Press). Her most recent book is the critically acclaimed and award-winning As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon Press, 2019). Dina is currently under contract with Beacon Press for two new books under the working titles Illegitimate Nation: Privilege, Race, and Belonging in the U.S. Settler State, and Claiming Native: Authenticity, Ethnic Fraud, and the Messy Ambiguity of Native Identity.

Dina’s civic service includes board memberships on the San Onofre Parks Foundation and High Country News. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dina considers herself an urban Indian whose Colville mother came to LA during the termination years. She currently lives in San Clemente, Ca.

As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock

Beacon Press |
Historical Nonfiction

The story of Native peoples’ resistance to environmental injustice and land incursions, and a call for environmentalists to learn from the Indigenous community’s rich history of activism

Through the unique lens of “Indigenized environmental justice,” Indigenous researcher and activist Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the fraught history of treaty violations, struggles for food and water security, and protection of sacred sites, while highlighting the important leadership of Indigenous women in this centuries-long struggle. As Long As Grass Grows gives readers an accessible history of Indigenous resistance to government and corporate incursions on their lands and offers new approaches to environmental justice activism and policy.

Throughout 2016, the Standing Rock protest put a national spotlight on Indigenous activists, but it also underscored how little Americans know about the longtime historical tensions between Native peoples and the mainstream environmental movement. Ultimately, she argues, modern environmentalists must look to the history of Indigenous resistance for wisdom and inspiration in our common fight for a just and sustainable future.

“All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Myths Made in America)

Beacon Press |
Historical Nonfiction

Unpacks the twenty-one most common myths and misconceptions about Native Americans

In this enlightening book, scholars and activists Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker tackle a wide range of myths about Native American culture and history that have misinformed generations. Tracing how these ideas evolved, and drawing from history, the authors disrupt long-held and enduring myths such as:

“Columbus Discovered America”
“Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims”
“Indians Were Savage and Warlike”
“Europeans Brought Civilization to Backward Indians”
“The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide”
“Sports Mascots Honor Native Americans”
“Most Indians Are on Government Welfare”
“Indian Casinos Make Them All Rich”
“Indians Are Naturally Predisposed to Alcohol”

Each chapter deftly shows how these myths are rooted in the fears and prejudice of European settlers and in the larger political agendas of a settler state aimed at acquiring Indigenous land and tied to narratives of erasure and disappearance. Accessibly written and revelatory, “All the Real Indians Died Off” challenges readers to rethink what they have been taught about Native Americans and history.

Authors Unbound

Decolonizing and Indigenizing Environmental Justice

I give various versions of this talk, depending on the audience. It’s designed for general or interdisciplinary audiences, accommodating the knowledge bases of both those well versed in EJ and those less so. It reflects highlights from the book As Long As Grass Grows.

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Environmental Justice and Climate Change: A Changing Landscape

Talk focuses on tribal approaches and action on climate change and justice as a subset of EJ. It lays a foundation about the history of global climate change solutions (e.g. the failed Kyoto Protocol), and engages a critical conversation about green energy and green capitalism. It then offers examples of American Indian adaptation and mitigation efforts.

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Decolonizing Sustainablity

I gave this keynote talk to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in 2022. Critically examines dominant narratives of sustainability, injecting an indigenous approach that centers settler colonialism and indigenous knowledge.

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Best Practices in Journalism: American Indian and Indigenous Issues

I’ve given this talk numerous times to professional journalists and journalism students.

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American Indian Women, Environmental Activism, and Outdoor Sports

Examines emerging conversations and activism of American Indian women and how they blend ethics of environmentalism in outdoor sports practices.

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American Indians, DEI, and Multiculturalism in Education

Critically examines frameworks that center multiculturalism in diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education relative to American Indians. It argues that to be responsive to American Indians DEI efforts must center a framework of settler colonialism and tribal sovereignty.

Authors Unbound

Legitimacy, Accountability, and Belonging in the US Settler State

This is a sneak peak at my forthcoming book Illegitimate Nation: Legitimacy, Accountability, and Belonging in the US Settler State.

Authors Unbound

Indigenous Knowledge, Environmental Justice, and Building Sustainable Futures for All

Introduces lay audiences to the concept of Indigenous ecological knowledge and how it intersects with dominant discourses of sustainability.

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Indigenous Rights-based Frameworks in California Coastal Conservation

I draw on my recent work in the space of coastal conservation in California to analyze inherent problems in ocean conservation, and show how tribes are initiating their own responses in the face of systematic erasure.

Dina’s Services

Dina’s Testimonials

Dina’s Media Link

Decolonize Conservation: Global Voices For Indigenous Self-Determination, Land, And A World In Common

Surf/Skate Studies Collaborative

Land Acknowledgment: You’re on California Indian Land, Now What? Acknowledging Relationships to Space & Place

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2020 Nautilus Silver Award for As Long As Grass Grows
2020 Society for Environmental Journalists Honorable Mention for As Long as Grass Grows
2020 Native American Journalists Association, Third Place for Op-ed, “How to Indigenize the Green New Deal”
2017 Nominated for L.A. Press Club Award for story in LA Weekly, “Native Americans in L.A. Almost Saw Their Culture Erased — Now They’re Getting It Back”
2015 Native American Journalist Association (NAJA), Third Place, Best Sports Stories, Indian Country Media Network, “Surfing as Sovereignty: How Native Hawaiians Resisted Colonialism”
2015 NAJA, Third Place, Best Column at Indian Country Media Network, for “The Ugliness of Indian on Indian Racism”
2014 Nominations (3) for NAJA Award by Indian Country Today Media Network
2010 Gerald Davis Award, UNM American Studies Graduate Student Writing Competition
2007 Second Place, Best Student Essays (Undergraduate), University of New Mexico

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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