Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Faculty

Dr. Benjamin R. Kracht

Department Chair / Professor of Anthropology

Contact Dr. Benjamin R. Kracht

Dr. Kracht Vitae (pdf)

Dr. Kracht has taught at NSU for over 23 years. He teaches anthropology classes and American Indian Studies classes.

His interests in American Indian cultures led to a B.A. in anthropology/history (Indiana University, 1979), followed by an M.A. in anthropology (University of Nebraska, 1982), and a Ph.D. in anthropology (Southern Methodist University, 1989). AT SMU he studied medical anthropology and began researching urban Indian health. By the end of his first year of doctoral work, he began researching Kiowa culture, religion, and history.

Most of his publications pertain to Kiowa religion, including coverage of the Ghost Dance, dancing and shamanic societies, and indigenized Christianity. Kracht's book, Kiowa Belief and Ritual (2017, University of Nebraska Press), delineates aboriginal Kiowa religious beliefs, and a forthcoming book pertains to religious revitalization among the Kiowas, including the Ghost Dance, Peyote, and indigenous Christianity. Dr. Kracht has also traveled to Central America with Dr. Erik Terdal to study Maya belief systems and the use of rainforest plant medicines. Each spring he teaches Field Methods in Ethnology and takes students to New Mexico during spring break to visit Acoma, Zuni, and Santo Domingo Pueblos.

Dr. Kracht has published over 40 articles and book reviews, including entries in American Indian Religious Traditions, American Indian Spirituality, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, and Encyclopedia of North American Indians. His 2012 article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma, "'It Would Break Our Hearts Not to Have Our Kiowas': War Dancing, Tourism, and the Rise of Powwows in the Early Twentieth Century," won the Muriel Wright award for best article.

Dr. Candessa Tehee

Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies

Contact Dr. Candessa Tehee

Dr. Tehee Vitae (pdf)

Candessa Tehee is a full blood Cherokee who grew up in a close knit, traditional Cherokee community where Cherokee language and culture was a mainstay. This background is one that she continues to draw on to guide her life. 

Candessa serves as Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies at Northeastern State University. At the University of Oklahoma, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Native American Studies and Communications in 2000, a Masters of Education in 2003, and a Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology in 2014.

 Candessa’s dissertation focuses on the experiences of second language users in endangered language communities. Other areas of focus in her studies are the link between language and culture, the social power of language, and the politics of indigeneity. In addition to her academic and career pursuits, Candessa also continues to carry on Cherokee artistic traditions and has been finger weaving since 2000. In 2011, she received instruction from Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Dreadfulwater Ice in table top loom weaving which allows her to carry on the legacy of her paternal grandfather, Rogers McLemore, Cherokee National Treasure for loom weaving. Candessa continues producing work which carries on the tribal and family tradition of weaving.

She makes her home with her three children in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Dr. Farina King

Assistant Professor of History

Contact Dr. Farina King

Farina King is “Bilagáanaa” (Euro-American), born for “Kinyaa’áanii” (the Towering House Clan) of the Diné (Navajo). She was born and lived on the Navajo reservation as a small child, until her family moved to Maryland. Dr. King received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Arizona State University. Her main area of research is colonial and post-colonial Indigenous Studies, primarily Native American experiences of colonial and distant education. She is currently preparing a book manuscript based on her doctoral study, “The Earth Memory Compass: DineĢ Educational Experiences in the Twentieth Century.” She joins the History Department at Northeastern State University in August 2016. She is also The David J. Weber Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America (2016-2017) at the Southern Methodist University Clements Center. She received her M.A. in African History from the University of Wisconsin and a B.A. in History from Brigham Young University. Learn more about Dr. King at

Tiffanie Hardbarger (Ord)

Tiffanie Hardbarger (Ord) is an Instructor in the Cherokee & Indigenous Studies department. She is from the Stilwell/Tahlequah, OK area and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Her interest in sustainable tourism and international/community development led to a Bachelor's degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management (Northeastern State University, 2002), a Master's in International Relations (University of Oklahoma, 2009) and a PhD in Community Resources & Development (Arizona State University, expected 2016). Her professional work experience includes the meetings and travel industry, economic development and marketing.

Tiffanie's teaching and research interests are related to self-determination movements and sustainability in community development and tourism with a specific focus on Indigenous, nomadic and tribal communities. Her current research includes the use of arts and culture as a tool for community development, nation building and non-violent activism (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a nation-in-exile in SW Algeria), and an Indigenous participatory action research project to explore Cherokee concepts of community, leadership, and justice as the lenses used to explore Cherokee youth’s conceptions of identity, sustainable self-determination and resurgence (Tahlequah, OK).

Wyman Kirk

Adjunct Professor

Contact Wyman Kirk

Dr. Brad Montgomery-Anderson

Dr. Brad Montgomery-Anderson is an associate professor in the Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Department. He specializes in Cherokee language, Mayan languages, and language revitalization. Dr. Montgomery-Anderson is currently preparing for publication a Cherokee reference grammar as well as a dictionary of the Chontal Mayan language of Mexico. He has published papers in Southwest Journal of Linguistics, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, and Journal of Language Contact. He grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and obtained both a Master’s in Indigenous Studies and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Kansas.

Dr. Kimberly Lee

Dr. Kimberly Lee is an associate professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures whose research and teaching focuses on Native American Writing, Rhetoric and Literature.  She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2003), where she did archival research on Mari Sandoz, and the intersectionality of Native American cultural continuance and advocacy of Native American rights in the 20th Century.  Additionally, she does significant research around American Indian songwork, and Native musicians as catalysts for change and reform.

Other interests include Native American Women’s Writing, Native American Language and Cultural Revitalization, Native American Ecological Initiatives, and Native Film and Film Makers.


“I Do Not Apologize for the Length of this Letter”: The Mari Sandoz Letters on Native American Rights, 1940-1966.  Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press,      November 2009. (Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Design, 2010; Nebraska Book Award 2010.)

Indigenous Pop: Interdisciplinary Critical Views on Contemporary Music in America. Co-edited with Jeff Berglund and Janis Johnson; University of Arizona Press. (Forthcoming, Spring 2016).

Dr. Diane Hammons

Assistant Professor

Contact Dr. Diane Hammons

Dr. A.  Diane Hammons is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern State University in the department of Criminal Justice, Legal Studies, & Homeland Security.  She previously served as Attorney General of the Cherokee Nation, and was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma for a number of years.  She was also the recipient of the Cherokee Patriot Award. A Mensan, Dr. Hammons is 1/4 Cherokee, the mother of three, and grandmother of three adorable grandchildren.  An OU grad, she passed the bar in 1984.


Dr. Virginia Whitekiller

Dr. Virginia Drywater-Whitekiller (Cherokee), Ed.D., M.S.W., is a professor of social work at Northeastern State University (NSU) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She received her Bachelor of Social Work at NSU, her Master of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and her doctorate in Higher Education Administration at OSU. Her academic administrative experience includes having chaired Northeastern State University’s social work and criminal justice departments, coordinating the Title IV-E program, directing the social work practicum program, and writing the self-study for the Council on Social Work Education re-affirmation. Along with extensive work in direct and macro social work practice with Native populations in health care, education, juvenile offenders, and child welfare, she has 20 years’ experience in teaching undergraduate and graduate level social work courses. She has served as an external program evaluator for various tribal social service projects and currently is the principal investigator for a university partnership with the National Child Welfare Workforce Initiative, one of twelve in the nation. The NSU program is designed to promote workforce diversity through the recruitment, entry and retention of Native Americans in child welfare and child welfare specialization curriculum development. She has published on topics pertaining to Native American cultural diversity, social work, and higher education retention. Her current research interests include furthering the development of cultural resilience theory regarding Native populations, tribal child welfare and gerontological workforce development, and Native Americans coping with microaggressions.