Dina Gilio-Whitaker

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Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes descendant) is a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos and independent educator/advisor on Indigenous environmental issues. She is a sought-after speaker and has addressed and advised a wide array of academic disciplines and organizations in the realms of conservation, law, science, government, outdoor sports, and more. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in Indian Country Today, Los Angeles Times, High Country News, Sierra Magazine,, Slate,, Bioneers, Truthout, the Pacifica Network, Grist, CSPAN Booktalk, The Boston Globe, and many more. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including awards from the Native American Journalists Association. Her research interests focus on Indigenous self- determination, environmental justice, and education.  She also works within the academic field of critical sports studies, examining the intersections of indigeneity and the sport of surfing, and her public-facing, community-based work connects tribal communities with the professional surf world and ocean conservation groups and initiatives. Dina helped author AB 1782 in 2018, a bill to make surfing California’s state sport.  


In 2016 she published her first book along with coauthor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Beacon Press). Her most recent book is the critically acclaimed and award-winning As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon Press, 2019). Dina is currently under contract with Beacon Press for two new books under the working titles Illegitimate Nation: Privilege, Race, and Belonging in the U.S. Settler State, and Claiming Native: Authenticity, Ethnic Fraud, and the Messy Ambiguity of Native Identity.


Dina’s civic service includes board memberships on the San Onofre Parks Foundation and High Country News. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dina considers herself an urban Indian. She currently lives in San Clemente, Ca.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker's Experiences

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Your participation in a student conference means so much to us. Your work and the work of those who come before us makes what we do possible. You transformed, through Zoom, all of us listening and all of the places we are currently distanced in. It was an honor to have the chance to learn from you.

Sage Gerson, University of California Santa Barbara

Thank you for pulling off such a marvelously successful evening! It could not have gone better and it was so good to have such a large turnout. Dina, your presentation was fantastic; you have such an accessible way of communicating complex ideas. It was clear from the audience comments that you stimulated a lot of thinking and learning.

Mark Baker, Humboldt State University

Thank you so much for speaking at GCSHE this week! Your keynote provided exactly the kind of provocative and insightful content that I was hoping for. As you probably saw in the chat, your talk received many positive comments from attendees. I hope participation was enjoyable for you as well.

Julian Dautremont, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

Some of the students present were from that class (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students) and they were able to connect with you in a deep and meaningful way….I shared with two students, your talk should have been the pinnacle of the course and they could spend the rest of their time connecting the course material and your wisdom into some final project product. Done! So there is that part…this incredibly serendipitous and harmonious culmination of this semester. However, it was what your words, presence and soul did for Indigenous faculty, staff and most importantly students. You spoke life, you spoke power, you spoke beauty into our community….something very much needed at this time. To connect with some of our community afterwards and hear the empowered spirit is something that an email cannot truly embody nor express….but may you feel my spirit. Thank you.

Dr. Heidi J. Nicholls, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

I want to tell you again how grateful I am, and all of our students are, for helping us to learn. I hope that you are surrounded by strength and love.. I know that you are giving strength and love to those around you.

Robert Steiner, Director, Dalla Lana Fellowship in Global Journalism University of Toronto

I completed the presentation last night and I have to congratulate you on such a thorough talk! So informative and with just the right tone of delivery – clear but compassionate. It is really impressive and most helpful for a teaching tool.

Nancy Marie Mithlo, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Gender Studies, University of California Los Angeles

I “attended” the 2020 General Assembly of our Unitarian Universalist Association. Two high points were your workshops—“Colonialism’s Impact on Palestinians and Indigenous North Americans” and, capping my GA experience, “Indigenous Knowledge in a Time of Pandemics”. I emerged from both of them moved, informed, and catalyzed to be and do more as a white woman of European ancestry in solidarity with my indigenous sisters and brothers. I write in gratitude.

Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull