Natalie Avalos
Assistant Professor
Native American and Indigenous Studies

Office Location: Ketchum 168

Pronouns: she / her / hers



Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2015
M.A., Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2010
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2006

Research Interests

Native American and Indigenous religions traditions, Tibetan Buddhism, transnationalism, healing historical trauma, decolonization, Indigenous stewardship, and Indigenous sovereignty.


Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies
CU Religious Studies Department
Tibet Himalaya Initiative

Natalie Avalos is as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies and Affiliate Faculty in the Religious Studies and Women and Gender Studies Departments. Dr. Avalos is an ethnographer of religion whose work in comparative Indigeneities explores urban Indigenous and Tibetan refugee religious life, healing historical trauma, and decolonial praxis. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Santa Barbara in Religious Studies with a special focus on Native American and Indigenous Religious Traditions and Tibetan Buddhism. She is a Ford Predoctoral Fellow, FTE Dissertation Fellow, and former CU Boulder Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow. Prior to joining CU Boulder, she taught as a Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College. She is currently working on her manuscript titled Decolonizing Metaphysics: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Refusal. It argues that the reassertion of land-based logics among Native and Tibetan peoples not only de-centers settler colonial claims to legitimate knowledge but also articulates forms of sovereignty rooted in interdependent relations of power among all persons, human and other-than human. She is a Chicana of Mexican Indigenous descent, born and raised in the Bay Area.  

Dr. Avalos’ approach to research and teaching is informed by decolonial theory as well as critical ethnic studies and critical Indigenous studies frameworks. A critical ethnic studies approach links the multiple intellectual traditions represented in ethnic studies to colonial logics such as heteronormativity, racial capitalism, and white supremacy. A critical Indigenous framework understands settler colonialism as a racial project sustained over time through material and ideological means (beyond an endogenous approach to Indigenous life). 

Selected Publications


Decolonizing Metaphysics: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Refusal (Manuscript In Progress).

Edited Volumes

Indigenous Religious Traditions in 5 Minutes, edited with Molly Bassett, Sheffield, UK: Equinox Publishing, 2022.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

“Stewardship as Native Teleology: Ceremonial Life and Restoring Right Relations.” In Of Living Stone: Perspectives on the Evolving Relevance of the Work of Vine Deloria, Jr. Edited by David Wilkins. Arvada, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2024.

“Indigenous Stewardship: Religious Praxis and “Unsettling” Settler Ecologies.” Political Theology. 24:7 (2023): 614-631. DOI: 10.1080/1462317X.2023.2212473

“A Veterans Talking Circle: Urban Indian Peoplehood and Re-Indigenizing Places.” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 18:1 (2022): 92-105.

“Latinx Indigeneities and Christianity.” In The Oxford Handbook of Latino/a Christianities in the United States. Edited by Kristy Nabhan Warren, 296-315. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2022.

“The Metaphysics of Decolonization: Healing Historical Trauma and Indigenous Liberation.” The CLR James Journal, 27:1-2 (2021) 81-99.

"What Does It Mean to Heal from Historical Trauma?" AMA Journal of Ethics, 23(6) (2021): E494-498.

“Decolonizing the Classroom: Settler Colonialism, Knowledge Production, and Antiracism.” In Global Perspectives on Dialogue: Cultivating Inclusive, Authentic, and Intersectional Classroom Conversations. Edited by Ashmi Desai and Hoa N. Nguyen, 23-32. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan, 2021.

“Red Praxis: Lessons from Mashantucket to Standing Rock.” Co-Authors Sandy Grande, Jason Mancini, Chris Newell. In Standing with Standing Rock: Voices From the #NoDAPL Movement, edited by Jaskiran Dhillon and Nick Estes, 245-260. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 

“Becoming Human: ‘Urban Indian’ Decolonisation and Regeneration in the Land of Enchantment.” In The Brill Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s). Edited by Greg Johnson and Siv Ellen Kraft, 176-191. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2017.

Interviews and Public Facing Articles / Essays

Taking a Critical Indigenous and Ethnic Studies Approach to Decolonizing Religious Studies.” Contending Modernities, Decoloniality and Liberation Theology Series, October 14, 2020.

Decolonizing Religious Studies and its Layers of Complicity.” Podcast interview by David McConeghy. The Religious Studies Project, August 17, 2020.

Land-based Ethics and Settler Solidarity in a Time of Corona and Revolution.” The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture & Politics, July 9, 2020.

Indigenous Stewardship and the Death Rattle of White Supremacy.” Political Theology Network, Symposium on Environmental Justice & Settler Colonialism: A Political Theology of Climate Change, June 25, 2020.

Memory.” The Immanent Frame, A Universe of Terms Series, May 29, 2020.

In Progress

The Metaphysics of Decolonization: Transnational Indigeneities and Religious Refusal – book manuscript in preparation

Professional Associations

American Academy of Religion
American Studies Association
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
Critical Ethnic Studies Association
American Indigenous Research Association
Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social