Director & Advisory Board
Theodore Van Alst
Dean Van Alst directs the activities of the Native American Cultural Center. Appointed Dean in 2010, Van Alst comes to Yale from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in Storrs, where he held a joint appointment as assistant professor in the departments of modern and classic languages and in English. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 2008 by UConn's Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) program. Most recently, he served as co-chair and director of graduate studies for CLCS and as faculty adviser for UConn's Native American Cultural Society.
The Advisory Board supports the Center by advising the Director in matters of strategic planning, event planning, campus programming, local and regional networking, institutional advocacy, and resource development.
Professor of History and American Studies
Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) is a Professor of History and American Studies at Yale and was on the faculty from 1999 to 2009 at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A graduate of McGill University, he holds graduate degrees in History from UCLA and the University of Washington and is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the early American West (Harvard, 2006), a study of the American Great Basin that garnered half a dozen professional prizes, including the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from the Organization of American Historians. In addition to serving in professional associations and on the editorial boards of American Quarterly and Ethnohistory, Professor Blackhawk has led the establishment of two fellowships, one for American Indian Students to attend the Western History Association's annual conference, the other for doctoral students working on American Indian Studies dissertations at Yale named after Henry Roe Cloud (Winnebago, Class of 1910).
Associate Director, Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders
Jay Gitlin’s latest book, The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion, will be published in 2009 by the Yale University Press. He has published numerous articles on western history, including “Private Diplomacy to Private Property: States, Tribes, and Nations in the Early National Period” in Diplomatic History 22 (Winter 1998), and contributed chapters to the Oxford History of the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994) and The Louisiana Purchase and the Emergence of the American Empire (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2003). He is also the co-editor and co-author of Under an Open Sky: Rethinking America’s Western Past (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992). At Yale, he teaches courses on Native American history, the history of the American West, and Canadian history. He serves on the Faculty Committee on Urban Studies and has been an on-camera commentator and consultant for several television shows on the History Channel and Connecticut Public Television, including Suburbia: The Good Life in Connecticut, nominated for a regional Emmy. A pianist and member of the American Federation of Musicians since the age of thirteen, he has a Masters degree in Music (percussion performance) from Yale and plays approximately 80 gigs a years with the Bales-Gitlin Band, co-led by his wife, Ginny Bales. Their son, Basie Gitlin, currently a junior at Yale, is preparing for the various family businesses.
|Amanda Kotlyar (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians)
Manager of Strategy and Business Development for Pitney Bowes Management Services
Pierson College ‘01
Amanda Kotlyar is a Yale College (PC 2001) and Yale School of Management (MBA 2006) alumna who has served on the NACC Advisory Board since its inception in 2003. She is a current At-Large Delegate for the Association of Yale Alumni representing the Native American community and is one of the founders of the Native American Yale Alumni group. In addition to her work with the NACC and NAYA, Ms. Kotlyar sits on the National Board of a non-profit, The Neighbors Project, and is an active alumna of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a program created to promote diversity on Wall Street. She has over five years of experience in investment banking and is currently the Manager of Strategy and Business Development for Pitney Bowes Management Services.
|Alyssa Mt. Pleasant (Tuscarora)
Assistant Professor, American Studies and History
Alyssa Mt. Pleasant’s scholarly research focuses on early modern Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) history. She has a broad teaching portfolio, offering courses in American Indian history and American Indian Studies. In addition to her research and teaching commitments on campus, Professor Mt. Pleasant lectures widely and participates in conferences in the United States and abroad. Prior to joining Yale’s faculty, Professor Mt. Pleasant held a research fellowship at Yale University’s Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders. She received her Ph.D. in History and American Indian Studies from Cornell University and her A.B. from Barnard College, Columbia University. During the 2009-2010 academic year Professor Mt. Pleasant will be on leave, finishing her book: After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People at Buffalo Creek, 1780-1825. Since 2006 Professor Mt. Pleasant has served as a faculty representative to the NACC Advisory Board. She was involved in the planning for both Henry Roe Cloud alumni celebrations and serves as the Principal Investigator for the Yale Native American Alumni Oral History Collection.
|Elizabeth Anne Reese (Nambe)
Pierson College ‘11
Elizabeth Anne Reese is from Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico. A political science major, Ms. Reese will graduate Yale College in 2011. She is the founder of Yale University Blue Corn, the Native Culture and Spirituality group on campus. She has worked on the Native Collections at Beinecke Library, and is currently employed by the Yale University Chaplain's Office.
|Allison Tjemsland (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe)
Berkeley College '11
Allison is Jamestown S'Klallam from Sequim, Washington. A History and
|Ruth G. Torres (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation)
Connecticut State Trooper
Ruth G. Torres is an enrolled citizen of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, whose reservation is located near Kent, CT. She is a former tribal councilor and treasurer of the tribe, one of three state-recognized tribes in Connecticut. Ruth recently earned her Bachelors of Science degree from Charter Oak State College, where she studied Political Science. Her academic goals include a Masters in Public Administration and applying to law school. Ruth is part of a grassroots effort presently working to establish a state commission on American Indian affairs and takes pride in keeping the local Indian community informed of cultural, political, and educational events in the region. She regularly attends lectures and performances hosted by Yale and appreciates what the university contributes to the New Haven area community. Ruth lives with her husband, Rafael, in West Haven. She has been a state trooper since 1989.