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Cliff Trafzer, PhD



Clifford Trafzer, Ph.D is a Distinguished Professor of History and Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs at the University of California, Riverside. Professor Trafzer has also taught at Navajo Community College (Diné College), Washington State University, and San Diego State University. An incredibly prolific author of Native American History and histories of the American West, Professor Trafzer has most recently published Strong Hearts and Healing Hands: Southern California Indians and Field Nurses, 1920-1950 (Arizona, 2021), Willie Boy & The Last Western Manhunt (Coyote Hill Press, 2020), Fighting Invisible Enemies: Health and Medical Transitions among Southern California Indians (Oklahoma, 2019), and American Indian Medicine Ways (Arizona, 2017). He is currently working on a book with Snake River-Palouse Elder Carrie Jim Schuster and Richard Scheuerman on the Indigenous philosophy of támanwit. He is also working with Native graduate students and Lorene Sisquoc (Ft. Sill Apache-Cahuilla), curator at the Sherman Indian School Museum, on an exhibit featuring the lives of 25 former students who contributed to their People.

In addition to his public-facing, community-engaged academic scholarship, Professor Trafzer has an impressive and long record of distinguished public service on behalf of Indigenous Peoples in California and across Indian Country. He is of Wyandot and German ancestry, and has served in a wide range of government, non-profit, and academic positions, including as archivist, museum curator, editor, and consultant. Professor Trafzer has served on the boards of the California Native American Heritage Commission, the Native American Land Conservancy, the San Diego Indian Health Center, and the California Historical Society. He has also been a consultant for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, the Riverside Museum, the publisher McGraw Hill, the National Library of Medicine, and the Washington State Historical Society.

In all of his years of work and service, Trafzer has always prioritized building and maintaining partnerships with California Indian tribes and communities. He has worked with the Elder and Cultural Committees of the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe, the Mohave of the Colorado River Indian Reservation, and the Chemehuevi of Twenty-Nine Palms, the Cabazon Tribe, the Colorado River Tribes, and the Chemehuevi Tribe to preserve and protect sacred places of the ancestors on the Yuma Proving Ground. Professor Trafzer contributes his extensive experience working across many different academic, non-profit, government, and tribal institutions to CIHCF’s mission of building the California Indian Heritage Center as an active community space of cultural preservation and exchange, founded on Indigenous values of land stewardship and reciprocity.

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