Thomas Michael Swensen

Contact Information


Office: 214 Willard O. Eddy Hall

Office Hours: Monday 2:00-4:00PM

Role: Faculty

Position: Assistant Professor


Dr. Thomas Michael Swensen joined the ethnic studies department as an assistant professor in the Fall of 2014. He produces scholarship at the crossroads of Native American studies and the environmental humanities. He's published articles on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Native publics and environmental disasters, the emergence of Alaska Native tribal governments, urban space and the John T. William’s Memorial Pole, the cultural geographies of Native punx, and the distinctions between Alaska Native civil rights and Native title. He's finishing a draft of a book length manuscript, The Great Land: Alaska Native assemblages of belonging and the environment. Article wise, he's working on pieces exploring Native subsistence practices and animal studies, Alaska punx and the environment, the Indigenous urban, and as well as an essay on hemispheric transnational Native ecological art.

Thomas was born and raised in the Kodiak Archipelago and graduated from S.A.V.E. II secondary school in Anchorage on the Alaska mainland. After enrolling at a community college at a non-traditional age, he earned a PhD in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2011. An original shareholder in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement corporations Koniag, Inc., and Leisnoi, Inc., he is also enrolled in the federally recognized Tangirnaq Native Village aka the Woody Island Tribe. With pride, he serves the Alutiiq community on the board of directors of the Koniag Education Foundation, an organization that promotes the educational goals and economy of the Koniag Alutiiq and their descendants.

When he was still in graduate school the Western History Association awarded him with the Autry prize in Public History for his authorship of the We Shall Remain: The Utah Indian Curriculum Project in 2010, available at The following year he was awarded the Chancellors Postdoctoral Fellowship in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. From 2012-2014 he worked as the assistant Professor of Native Arts and Culture at the Herberger Institute at Arizona State University. If you are interested in his work, he consistently posts on the Alaska Native Studies Blog One can also find material associative to the blog on Facebook at and Tumblr at Thomas avidly cycles, plays music, and cooks most meals. He’s very fond of sikiaq, cold smoked, or kippered salmon, if you have any you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to stop by his office. Check out his cv at his personal website, Support Aleut faculty.

TEACHING: ETST 581A1 Race, Space, and Governmentality, ETST 425 Indigenous Film and Video, ETST 365 Global Environmental Justice Movements, ETST 255 Native American History, ETST 240 Native American Cultural Experience, ETST Race and the City


2011 Ethnic Studies, Ph.D. University of California Berkeley (fall graduate).2007 M.A. Ethnic Studies, University of California Berkeley. 2005 M.A. Literature, University of Oregon. 2001-2002 Partial M.Arch, University of Oregon. 2001 Urban Planning Certificate, University of Utah. 2000 B.A. Literature and Art,  Westminster College. 



2009 We Shall Remain: Utah Indian Curriculum Guide.With Matthew Basso, Annie Hanshew, Elizabeth Player,  and Jenel Cope (with contributions by Paul Reeve, Danielle Endres, and Floyd O’Neil), Salt Lake City: University of Utah Printing Services.


Peer Reviewed Articles

2017 “Blackfish Lessons on Environmental Sustainability, Food, and Yup’ik Culture.” Alaska Native Studies Journal. Vol. 3. Forthcoming.

2017 “The Strong Current and Alutiiq Cultural History.” English Language Notes 54.2 special issue: In/Security. Forthcoming.

2016 “Navajo Punx: A Nation and its Discontents.” Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, and Humanities. Vol. 18.2. 

2016 “Forever Crossing Over: At the Intersection of John T. Williams's Life and Memorial.” Special issue of American Indian Culture and Research Journal: Remaking Aesthetic Violence: Centering Indigeneity in Native Arts.Vol. 39. 4.

2015 “Of Subjection and Sovereignty: Alaska Native Corporations and Tribal  Governments in the Twenty-First Century.” Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies. Vol. 30.1.

2015 “Race Technologies and Familial History in Twentieth-Century Native Alaska.” Occasion Journal Special issue Race, Space, Scale. Vol. 8.

2015 “The Relationship Between Indigenous Rights, Citizenship, and Land in Territorial Alaska: How the Past Opened the Door to the Future.” Alaska Native Studies Journal. Vol. 2.

Published Co-Edited Volumes

2014 Transforming the University: Alaska Native Studies in the 21st Century. Alaska Native Studies Journal Vol. 1. University of Alaska Press. With Jeane Táawxíwaa Breinig, Lenora Ac’aralek Carpluk, Alisha Drabek, Sharon Chilux Lind, Beth Ginondidoy Leonard, Liza Mack, Gordon Pullar, Maria ShaaTláa Williams, Phyllis Fast, Ray Barnhardt, and Miranda Wright.

Other Editorially Reviewed Articles

2013 “The Work of Rogelio Gutierrez.” Catalog for Trazo Urbano: Grafica Contemporanea Desde. Translated into Spanish. Mexico City, Mexico.

Web-Based Publications

2010 We Shall Remain: The Utah Indian Curriculum Project (completed August 2009, includes teachers’ guide and new media materials, like interactive Google Earth maps, available via multiple website portals including and housed on the Pioneer Digital Library system), available at


2013-present The Alaska Native Studies Blog at

Creative Writing

2000 "Wait Here." Ellipsis... Literature and Art Journal.