Natalie Avalos
Assistant Professor
Native American and Indigenous Studies

Office Location: Ketchum 162

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 Indian 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 The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: 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 Apache 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 takes an endogenous approach to Indigenous life, centering Native epistemological claims, for instance that Indigenous notions of selfhood are co-extensive and bear consideration in projects for sovereignty and survival.

Selected Publications

Refereed Articles and Book Chapters

“Planting Yourself in the Land: Urban Indian Peoplehood and Reindigenizing Places.” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief (In Press).

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

“We’re Not all Immigrants:” The White Liberal Nostalgia of Immigrant Life.” Sociological Imagination Journal, Volume 54, No. 1 (2018): 57-65.

“Re-Enchanting the Land of Enchantment: Religious Regeneration in a Native/Chicanx Community.” Special Issue, ChicanX and Native American Indigeneities, edited by Gerardo Aldana, Salvador Guerena and Felicia Lopez. rEvista: A Multimedia, Multi-genre e-Journal for Social Justice. Volume 5, Issue 2 (2017): 1-21.

“Indigenous Visions of Self-Determination: Healing and Historical Trauma in Native America.” Global Societies Journal, Volume 2 (2014): 1-13.

Contributions to Edited Collections

“Latinx Indigeneities and Christianity” in The Oxford Handbook of Latino/a Christianities in the United States. Forthcoming 2021.

“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. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan (In Press).

“Insurgent Pedagogies: Decolonization is For All of Us.” Teaching Resistance: Radicals, Revolutionaries, and Cultural Subversives in the Classroom, edited by John Mink. Oakland, CA: PM 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. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2017.

Works in Progress

The Metaphysics of Decoloniality: 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