Dr. Olivia Chilcote, Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies
Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies

Ph.D., Ethnic Studies

Olivia Chilcote (Luiseño, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians) received her B.A. in the Ethnic & Women’s Studies Department at Cal Poly Pomona and both M.A. and Ph.D. in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 and 2017 respectively. She is currently an Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. Her research and teaching focus on the areas of interdisciplinary Native American Studies, federal Indian law and policy, Native American identity, and Native California. Professor Chilcote grew up in the center of her tribe’s traditional territory in the North County of San Diego, and she is active in tribal politics and other community efforts. She is the first person in her tribe to earn a Ph.D.

Professor Chilcote’s first book project investigates the politics and history of federal recognition in California and uses a case study of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians. Her manuscript analyzes the intricacies of identities structured by legal definitions, the ways in which unrecognized tribes assert tribal sovereignty despite legal classifications, and how tribal engagement with the Federal Acknowledgment Process is part of a longer history of U.S.-tribal relationships. Her future research will build on themes explored in her manuscript including the limits of tribal sovereignty, identity, race, and gender in unrecognized tribal contexts across California and the United States, with implications for the politics of recognition of indigenous peoples internationally.

Excerpt from: SDSU American Indian Studies Faculty