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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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SDSU professor Olivia Chilcote SDSU professor Olivia Chilcote

Researcher Recognized for Work with Tribal Communities

A passion for her own community has earned SDSU professor Olivia Chilcote recognition as a 2021 Emerging Scholar.
By Lainie Fraser

“I feel grateful to be recognized and to share my success with my tribe and those who have helped me throughout my career.”

As a member of the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, San Diego State University professor Olivia Chilcote uses her research and resources to learn more about her community and address their needs.

Her teaching and research focus on federally and non-federally recognized tribes specifically in the state of California, which has the most non-federally recognized tribes in the country including the Luiseño tribe of which Chilcote is a member.

“I pursued my research to try and make a difference for my tribe and to look in to our history and why our tribe has the legal status it does today,” said Chilcote, who teaches in the Department of American Indian Studies. “I want to be able to use my position and resources as a professor and academic to give back to my tribe and help out with our pursuit for federal recognition.”

It is these efforts that has earned Chilcote the recognition of being named a 2021 Emerging Scholar by the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education’s Emerging Scholars profiles 15 “under 40” scholars throughout the country who are making their mark in the academy through teaching, research and service.

Chilcote describes an Emerging Scholar as someone who is “still new to being a professor and academia but uses their role, position, research, and teaching to change the academy for the better.”

She was nominated by colleagues at SDSU, which she attributes to her personal connection to her research. Chilcote describes herself as a community-based scholar and says it is something that is new and emerging in academia.

“I look at how the non-federally recognized legal status came to be for so many tribes in California and a lot of my work is informed by personal experience.”

Chilcote explains past research on tribal communities as extractive.

“Non-native researchers would go to Native communities and take information or take items without a reciprocal relationship or aligning their work with what the community might want and that is totally different from what I am doing,” Chilcote said. “I am so grounded in my community-based research and that is a big part of why I think I was nominated. My work showcases a shift in academia where Native peoples are the ones to write our own stories and histories.”

Chilcote said being recognized as an Emerging Scholar acknowledges her research and efforts for her community.

“As a young Native woman scholar, to know others see value in what I am doing makes me feel appreciated and supported,” Chilcote said. “I feel grateful to be recognized and to share my success with my tribe and those who have helped me throughout my career.”

“Being recognized as an Emerging Scholar is great exposure not just for me as an individual scholar, but also for the Department of American Indian Studies and the university as a whole,” Chilcote said. “It shows that there is really innovative and important work being done by a diverse group of faculty members at SDSU.”