‘Before they kill my spirit entirely’: insights into the lived experiences of American Indian Alaska
American Indian and Alaska Natives (AIAN) comprise about 2% of the US population and 0.5% of the faculty in higher education. While scholars have documented the experiences of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty, the perspectives of AIAN faculty at elite universities are largely absent. Although AIAN faculty share many of the same barriers to success as URM colleagues, their unique status as Tribal peoples and their relationship to settler colonialism pose particular challenges and resistance strategies. Findings from a mixed methods study of 25 AIAN faculty at research universities, employing a decolonizing, survivance-oriented framework, examines their lived institutional experiences. The data yielded five themes regarding (1) institutional climate, (2) mentorship, (3) family–work balance, (4) cultural taxation and role stress, and (5) discrimination. The authors conclude that decolonization involves the repatriation of Indigenous epistemologies and Indigenous ‘place’ in the growth of science, research, and knowledge production, creating liberatory spaces within the academy.