IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Student and Alumni Profiles

Our current Museum Studies students come from all over the country, and represent several different Native Nations.

Kevin Locke (Leech Lake Nation)

Museum Studies major

“Boozhoo nindinawemaaganidok; bangii eta go ninitaa-anishinaabem. Mackwa indigoo Anishinaabem, Kevin Locke idash indizhinkaaz zhaaganaashiimong. Mackwa niindoodem, Onigamiising niinindoojii, Leech Lake Nation izhinikaade ishkonigan wenjiiyaan.

“Hello, my relatives; I speak a little Anishinaabe. Bear is how I am known by the spirits in Anishanaabe, Kevin Locke is my English name. Bear is my clan, Onigum is where I am from, Leech Lake Nation is the name of my first nation.

“I recently graduated from Leech Lake Tribal College, where I finished an internship with Heritage Sites as an archeologist. My passion is to protect sacred sites. In 2008 I joined the Longest Walk 11 in support of sacred site protection, and as we walked across America, we discovered what is happening across the country. Each reservation we visited had their own stories. I came to IAIA to become a repatriation officer, to aid in getting our items and returning them home.

I am 53 years young and have four children, two boys and two girls. The oldest is thirty and the youngest is fifteen.

I am a traditional dancer and singer I am excited to be here at IAIA, have started an internship, began my work study position, and look forward to the courses here.”

Patricia Ann Roy-Trujillo (Leech Lake Band)

Museum Studies major

“My name Patricia Ann Roy-Trujillo, and I am an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe, Cass Lake MN. I am 1/2 Ojibwe and 1/2 Meskwaki, I was born in Pike Bay Township Cass Lake, MN.

“Along with my homework, I am currently working on a fully beaded fancy dance outfit for my niece. I am so amazed at all the different aspects of museum studies, and every day I wonder what new information I can cram into my head, and hope that it sticks. My instructors have all been so patient with me, and I really appreciate it. With their encouragement, I know I will learn.”

Leisha Bell Johnson (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

Museum Studies major

“Hello. I am Leisha Bell Johnson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. My home state is Michigan. My family is in Marquette. I most recently lived in Ann Arbor, MI 2000-2007; moved to IAIA from Tucson, AZ.

“I am excited to learn about Museum Studies in this great time of change in the museum world and the significant role it plays in Native communities. I look forward to working in a variety of disciplines associated with Museum Studies, such as exhibit design, curation, archiving, and repatriation.

“I’m busy with two museum classes this semester and am currently (for fun and technical practice) working on two small installations in my home here in Santa Fe that reflect nature. One is a tree-branch design headboard for my bedroom and the other is an upright tree branch—site-specific installation (small but still holds the power of nature).”

Melanay June Whitehair (Navajo)

Museum Studies Alumna

“I graduated from the IAIA College of Contemporary Native Arts in May of 2010 with my Bachelor of Arts in the field of Museum Studies. I am now attending the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma and studying for my Master’s degree in Native American Studies. I plan on working within a museum as either a director or curator.

“When I was a student at IAIA, I enjoyed the hands-on experiences with my instructors, such as how to make a traveling exhibit, how to install an exhibit, as well as making different exhibit cases for the artwork in each show. I also learned some great lessons while working as an intern at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. There, I got to work with some world-famous art pieces that I had seen only in books. The IAIA Museum staff was very helpful. The Museum Studies Program was like being at home with family, because people care so much about each student.”