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UCSD Native American Elder/Culture Bearer in Residence Program 


To support the minor and proposed Ph.D. concentration in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and the work of the Intertribal Resource Center (ITRC) at UCSD we will be hosting an elder/culture bearer from local, national, and international American Indian/NativeAmerican/Indigenous communities to support the work of building stronger relationships between UC San Diego and American Indian and Indigenous communities. This new program will also introduce students, faculty, staff, and community to Indigenous leaders who will teach, present, and meet with administrators, faculty, staff, and students about a key theme or topic every academic year for a minimum of one academic quarter and up to three total quarters. The program will include an opening and closing luncheon in addition to monthly events on and off campus that foster better understanding of Kumeyaay, California Native, and Indigenous/American Indian nations nationally and internationally.  The Community, Staff, and Student Advisory Council (CSSAC) in consultation with Core, Adjunct, and Affiliated Faculty (CAAF) will meet to recommend an elder or cultural bearer in residence for each academic year. A sub-committee of the CSSAC and CAAF will meet in May of every spring quarter to review proposed residents and make a selection for the following academic year. 

The Elder/Culture Bearer in Residency Program Aims to:

  • Celebrate, Acknowledge and Honor Indigenous knowledge
  • Center Indigenous practices and ways of knowing
  • Highlight the diversity of American Indian identity and affirm American Indian students, community members, staff, and faculty 
  • Raise the awareness and understanding of Native culture with University staff and faculty and students
  • Foster relationships between American Indian communities and the University

The Native American Elder/Culture Bearer-in-Residency will give 1 presentation per quarter to the UCSD community.

UCSD Culture Bearer In Residence 2023-24

Ethan L. Banegas


Ethan Lawrence Banegas, a descendant of the Kumeyaay, Luiseño/Payómkawichum, and Cupeño/ Kuupangaxwichem bands of Native Americans, grew up on the Barona Reservation in San Diego County. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History, Religious Studies and Political Science in 2009 and his Master of Arts degree in History in 2017 from the University of San Diego (USD).

Banegas is the co-owner of and Historian for the San Diego History Center, which operates the Junípero Serra Museum. He taught history within the Grossmont Cuyamaca College District (Kumeyaay College) for five years and currently teaches at San Diego State University. He served on the Board of Directors at the Kumeyaay Community College and Barona Museum. He was first published in 2017 (Indian Gaming in the Kumeyaay Nation) and in 2020 published the Kumeyaay Oral History Project, a community-based research project, after collecting thirty-one personal interviews, video-taped oral histories, and photographs from San Diego’s First People. Through this project, Banegas collected the voice of the Kumeyaay people, giving a voice to the voiceless.

Read an article on this new NAIS program initiative here.