IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Academic Dean


Charlene Teters, Academic Dean

Photo by Don Messec

Charlene Teters is the Academic Dean of the college at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a member of the Spokane Nation and well known for her work as an artist, writer, educator and activist.


She earned an Associate of Fine Arts from IAIA in 1986, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Santa Fe in 1988, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIHC) in 1994. In addition, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Mitchell College, New London, CT.

Major Professional Activities

After establishing the Racial Justice Office at the National Congress of American Indians, she returned to IAIA in 1992 as Director of Alumni Relations and Student Retention and later was appointed as a full-time faculty member in the Studio Arts Department where she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2013. In addition, she has served as a Visiting Lecturer in the Art Department at the Ohio State University and received a two-year appointment as the Hugh O. LaBounty Endowed Chair at the California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, CA.  In 2000, Charlene was appointed as the Interim Dean of the Academic Division during IAIA’s transition and move from the College of Santa Fe campus to our new campus.

During her professional career, Charlene has exhibited internationally and maintained an active presence lecturing and delivering keynote speeches and commencement addresses across the United States.   She rose to national prominence as a graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she led protests against the degrading depictions of American Indian caricatures used as sport team’s mascots and was the subject of the award winning documentary, In Whose Honor, www.inwhosehonor.com/ by Jay Rosenstein. In 1997, Peter Jennings, anchor for  ABC World News Tonight, honored Charlene as “Person of the Week”, and in 2002, Charlene received a New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.