Terri Bissonette
2018 NISN Fellow

Terri Bissonette, EdD., Gnoozhekaaning Anishinaabe, is the Founder/School Leader of American Indian Academy of Denver (AIAD). As an educator with over 15 years of experience, Dr. Bissonette’s expertise encompasses K-12 literacy curriculum and instruction, Indian Education with an emphasis on pedagogy, closing achievement gaps for underserved student populations, designing continuous improvement processes, and building and sustaining effective school cultures.  AIAD will be a brand-new charter school in Denver Public Schools (DPS) opening in Fall, 2020 to serve sixth through eighth grade students. After five years, AIAD will serve grades sixth through twelfth. AIAD will be among the first schools in the nation to implement a rigorous STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) curriculum through the indigenous cultural perspective. This approach can be described as the intersection of culture, historical traditions, sociocultural roots, science, technology, arts, and mathematics. It seeks to ensure that academic content and delivery consistently answers the question: “How is this relevant to me?”.

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Erin Shije
2018 NISN Fellow

Erin was born and raised in Zia Pueblo, NM. She received her undergraduate degree at Fort Lewis College in General Biology and a Masters in Elementary education from UNM with academic honors while also being a Phi Kappa Phi member. Taught at T'siya Day School in Zia Pueblo as a kindergarten and first grade teacher. Was appointed to be the T'siya Day school representative within the Coalition of Educators for Native American Children to support the students and staff with educational opportunities to further their education in collaboration with various Native American communities. It is my hope to redesign education within the Zia Pueblo community. 

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Kimimila Locke
2018 NISN Fellow

Kimimila is Lakota from the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota and Ahtna Dene from Tazlina, Alaska. She has her MA in Teaching and has been in education for the past seventeen years as both a middle and high school English teacher, and a Lakota language teacher since 2013. Currently, Kimimila is the Curriculum Developer for the Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi Wótakuye - Lakota Language Immersion Nest at Sitting Bull College, a total Lakota Language Immersion school for children ages 3 to 6 years old. 


Tiarra Little
tiarra@thundervalley.org 2018 NISN Fellow

Tiarra Little is Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  A recent graduate of Stanford University, Tiarra earned her Bachelors of Arts in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity with a concentration in Education, Access, and Equity.  Prior to her undergraduate career, she had the opportunity to travel nationally  and internationally with educational programs that placed emphasis on history & culture, economic development & sustainability, human rights, and environmental awareness. 

Taking these experiences with her to Stanford, Tiarra has continued her learning through travel as both a student and an educator with particular attention to Indigenous education and diversity in the classroom & society.  Throughout her undergraduate career, she was able to serve as a mentor and assistant in many arenas ranging from administration to Indigenous youth support, development, and college readiness; as well as active involvement in the Stanford Native community through organizing and providing community feedback.  Tiarra was also influenced by her time studying in Cape Town, South Africa where she was able to delve into many of the foundational understandings of South African history, culture, and complexities that continue rippling into today.  Additionally, Tiarra has experience in co-leading and co-teaching a student-led college course which annually includes a supplemental alternative spring-break trip component designed to both inform and engage students using best practices that align with cultural and academic expectations.

At present, Tiarra is continuing her steady trajectory towards a career in Indigenous Education as a 2018 NACA Inspired Schools Network Fellow where she will be working with Thunder Valley CDC in leading the creation and development of a school for Oglala Lakota community youth.


Sage Fast Dog
2017 NISN Fellow

Sage D. Fast Dog Sr.  is Sicangu(Burnt Thigh) under the Titunwan Oyate (Prairie Dwellers People) of the Oceti Sakowin(Seven Council Fires).  He was raised on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, home of the Burnt Thigh people, also where he attended elementary and secondary education.  He graduated from St. Francis Indian School and received a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Lakota studies at Sinte Gleska University.  He has taught Lakota studies at Todd County Middle School for 11 years prior to applying for fellowship with NISN in 2016.