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2021 Honors Dr. Cornel Pewewardy

Dr. Cornel Pewewardy (Comanche-Kiowa) is Professor Emeritus, Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University. Dr. Pewewardy’s research explores the theoretical and philosophical foundations of postcolonial Indigenous research paradigms that focused on historical and political insight into the lingering impact of colonization, considering the issues faced by Indigenous peoples today and identities to survive in the twenty-first century. 

Across his work, Professor Pewewardy seeks to advance policy and practice that address persistent racial and socioeconomic inequities within Indigenous education and reflect the voices and expertise of historically underserved families and communities. From his early work as an educational administrator to more recent work on creating Indigenous charter schools, he focuses on strategies to enhance higher education institution’s connectivity and partnerships with Indigenous Nations to advance the education of Indigenous students and explore university-tribal relationship-based pedagogy. In addition, he and colleagues have been working closely with teachers and school leaders to construct a transformational model specific to the continuum of consciousness educators experience as they develop their understanding and employment of decolonizing theories and pedagogies.

Presenting the Transformational Indigenous Praxis Model for almost three decades at professional conferences across the U.S., Pewewardy has applied his theoretical model to the work of educational practice, primarily using case studies with Indigenous learners, systems and structures in efforts to nurture Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies for creating educational space for Indigenous self-determination. Co-editor of an upcoming book under contract with Teachers College Press, “Unsettling Settler-Colonial Education” provides a sweeping portrait of case studies and emerging praxis toward decolonizing structures in education. 

In his retirement from higher education, Professor Pewewardy teaches an online doctoral-level course titled “Disrupt and Dismantling Current Praxis” in the School of Education at the University of Washington Tacoma; 
course titled “Decolonizing Indigenous Children’s Literature” at Cameron University and University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma; and “Rebuilding Nationhood: American Indian Government” at Bacone College. He continues to serve his career through professional associations including the American Indian Studies Advisory Board, Museum of the Great Plains Regents Member, Founder of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Lawton, OK, First Americans Museum Knowledge Keepers, and Founding Board Member of the National Association for Multicultural Education. He is on the editorial boards of Tribal College and University Research Journal, Wicazo Sa’ Review: Journal of Native American Studies, and Multicultural Magazine.

In 2019 Professor Pewewardy received the Oregon Indian Educator of the Year; 2019 AARP Oklahoma Indian Elder Honors; 2017 Indian Educator of the Year Award by the Oregon Indian Education Association; 2016/2012/2010 Outstanding Teaching Award at Portland State University; and 2015 Patricia Whitefoot Education Award with the Potlatch Fund in Seattle, WA. In 2007 Pewewardy received the Mike Charleston Research Award for Distinguished Contributions to Indigenous Education by the American Education Research Association and 2005 Scholars of Color Distinguished Scholar Award also by AERA. The Minnesota Administrator’s Academy named Dr. Pewewardy their Transformational Leadership Award (1992) for academically turning around the American Indian Magnet School and World Cultures and Languages Magnet School. While at the University of Kansas, Dr. Pewewardy was selected the 2001 W.T. Kemper Foundation Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. He is a 5-time winner of the Big XII Outstanding American Indian Faculty of the Year Award while at KU. Dr. Pewewardy was named the 2009 Teacher of the Year and 1991 Indian Educator of the Year by the National Indian Education Association.