Native Bruin: Past, Present & Future – Lydia Yellow Hawk (Sicangu Lakota)

🔷 Burin Highlight: Past, Present & Future 🔷

🔸This June 2024 we are highlighting Native Bruin, Lydia Yellow Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) class of 2023, MA in American Indian Studies.🔸
Lydia YellowHawk
Lydia YellowHawk
Lydia Yellow Hawk is Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation, He Dog community in South Dakota. Lydia is a 2023 UCLA alum and received her M.A. in American Indian Studies. Before attending UCLA, she graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 2019 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Political Science. While at Miami, she was the founder and president of the Native American Student Association on the Hamilton campus for four years. During this time, Lydia created successful large-scale programs that reached across multiple campuses and introduced students to Indigenous cultures and peoples. In her senior year, Lydia received the highly prestigious President’s Distinguished Service Award, only presented to a select group of students yearly.
Lydia’s commitment to her Lakota heritage and community is a defining aspect of her professional journey. After graduating from Miami University, Lydia joined Teach For America as a 2019 corps member. She taught middle school social studies and science at the same school she attended as a child in Rosebud. As a Lakota educator and community member, she not only taught academic subjects but also incorporated Lakota language and culture into her lesson plans and the school-appointed curriculum. Her dedication to preserving and sharing Lakota culture was evident in her classroom, where her grandmother and father were regular visitors, enriching her students learning through storytelling and song.
Following her teaching experience, Lydia’s academic journey led her to L.A. for grad school. Her M.A. thesis, titled “Taking the Teaching of our Ancestors:” Decolonizing History, Tribalography, & Lakota Storytellers,” examines Lakota storytellers, specifically through the works of Dakota anthropologist Ella Cara Deloria, and analyzes the various research methods and spaces she articulated her communities’ histories with her “kinship methodology.” Lydia’s other research interests include Lakota oral history and storytelling practices, decolonizing methodologies, Indigenous social justice activism, and Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty. As a student, Lydia was a member of the American Indian Graduate Student Association. She was also a graduate student researcher and collaborated with other students and faculty on the Archiving the Age of Mass Incarceration project for UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center.
Lydia currently works as an Educational Outreach Coordinator for Sicangu Co on their Sicangu-NASA Star Knowledge project. Outside of work, Lydia enjoys hiking with her two dogs, listening to her favorite podcast (The Red Nation), and going to the theatre to watch movies with friends.
“It has always been a long-term goal of mine to further my studies in AIS, and doing this at an institution such as UCLA has been a dream come true. What initially drew me to UCLA was the already built-in diverse Native community, both on and off campus. Also, the AIS department is home to top-leading scholars in Native/Indigenous studies. I’ve learned so much from my professors and mentors, such as Shannon Speed and Erin Debenport, and was fortunate to have their guidance in pursuing my research endeavors. I’m grateful for all the help and support I received from my program, committee, friends, family, colleagues, and professors at UCLA. I am incredibly proud to be a Native Bruin and look back at my time in LA as one of the most memorable chapters of my life. Go, Bruins!”