Michael Lerma (P’urhépecha) is the Director of Research and Development for Yahuaca Knowledge Distribution. He is an Associate Professor and Dean of the School of Business and Social Science at Diné College. He received his doctorate from the University of Arizona from the department of American Indian Studies. His recent research explores the efficacy of traditional Diné (Navajo) institutions of governance. He teaches courses on International Relations, Tribal Government, Native American Politics, and Research Methods. Michael’s research generally advocates for future Native Nation building via consolidation of indigenous interests and expansion of Native Nation control of norms within the international political economy.
Research emphasis: Federal Indian Law and Policy, Indigenous Research Methods, Tribal Government, Indigenous Human Rights
Virtual book talks for published work including: Indigenous Sovereignty in the 21st Century: Knowledge for the Indigenous Spring (2014, Florida Academic Press) and Guided by the Mountains: Navajo Political Philosophy and Governance (2017, Oxford University Press).
Policy Analysis Consultation: Environmental Policy, Indigenous Science, Federal Indian Law and Policy, Indigenous Economic Development
Virtual presentations regarding indigenous academia and activism, indigenous sovereignty and uprising, indigenous innovations and solutions, and the importance and modern day applications of traditional indigenous knowledge.
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“Michael Lerma’s research explores important and current topics in Indian Country. Foundational to his research is highlighting the relationships Tribal Nations have with states, the federal government and as international actors. He provides a detailed analysis of the U.S. nation building project that sought to domesticate Tribal Nations and the effects and pitfalls of Western conceptions of sovereignty in Indigenous nation governments today that have most often moved away from Peoplehood; in which governance and the the ways in which traditional sovereignty functioned was through human relationships to land, water, ceremony, sacred history and specific languages. This book [Indigenous Sovereignty in the 21st Century] is useful for both those who have little knowledge of Indian Country and for those entrenched within the politics of Indigenous communities, nation building and federal Indian law and policy.”
Charles Sepulveda, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of Utah
“In this important book [Guided by the Mountains], Michael Lerma explores the complexities of Diné knowledge and philosophy and their practical value as principles of governance. Lerma’s skill as a scholar is unequaled. I can think of no other study of Indigenous peoples that has explained the intricacy of Native American, particularly Diné, relations with the spirit world, the elements of place and their political implications as well. It is truly a book like no other.”
Tom Holm, Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona
“We still don’t have enough Niitsitapi researchers and scholars in political science, and we certainly don’t have enough works like Michael Lerma’s Guided by the Mountains. For this is without question a groundbreaking book. It should be a fundamental for scholars who work in comparative political theory. It is also relevant for scholars interested in settler colonialism and what James Scott calls the “shatter zones” of sovereign states.”
Robert Geroux, Project Muse, Theory & Event