Profile picture of Leilani Sabzalian

Leilani Sabzalian

Associate Professor
College of Education, Critical and Sociocultural Studies in Education, Curriculum & Teaching, Curriculum and Teacher Education, Educational Foundations, IRES, Sapsikwala Program
Phone: 541-346-1535
Research Interests: Indigenous Education, Native Feminisms, Curriculum Studies, Teacher Education, Elementary Social Studies Education


Dr. Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsik'wałá (Teacher) Education Program at the University of Oregon. Her research utilizes Native feminist theories to create more just and humanizing spaces for Indigenous students in public schools. Her research also prepares educators to challenge colonialism in curriculum, policy, and practice, and implement important Indigenous-led initiatives, including Tribal History/Shared History, a law that mandates curriculum on tribal history and sovereignty in all K-12 public schools in Oregon. She also serves on the American Indian/Alaska Native State Advisory Committee and collaborates with the Office of Indian Education to support professional development around the implementation of Tribal History/Shared History.

Dr. Sabzalian's first book, Indigenous Children's Survivance in Public Schools, uses storytelling to document the ways colonialism continues to shape educational policy and practice, and foster educators’ anticolonial literacy and commitment to supporting Indigenous students in public schools. Her latest book, Teaching Critically About Lewis and Clark: Challenging Dominant Narratives in K-12 Curriculum, co-authored with Drs. Alison Schmitke and Jeff Edmundson, complicates the Corps of Discovery and promotes students' active and critical engagement with history. 


2015               Doctor of Philosophy, Critical and Sociocultural Studies, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

2003               Master of Education, Educational Leadership, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

2002               Bachelor of Arts, Educational Studies, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR


Dr. Sabzalian’s research areas of interest include: Indigenous education, Native feminisms, curriculum studies, teacher education, and elementary social studies education.



Schmitke, A., Sabzalian, L., & Edmundson, J. (2020). Teaching critically about Lewis and Clark: Challenging dominant narratives in K-12 curriculum. New York: NY. Teachers College Press.
Sabzalian, L., (2019). Indigenous children's survivance in public Schools. Routledge Education Series: Indigenous and Decolonizing Studies in Education. Series Editors Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.
PEER-REVIEWED JOURNAL ARTICLES (If you cannot access an article and would like a copy, please email me.)
Brooks, S., Sabzalian, L., Springer, S., & Weiser-Nieto, R. (2023). “We should have held this in a circle”: White ignorance and answerability in outdoor education. Journal of Environamental Education, 53(7), 1-18.
Jacob, M.M., & Sabzalian, L., (2022). Reclaiming Indigenous kinship education: Lessons from the Sapsik'ʷałá Program. NEOS. 14(2), 1-7. 
Sabzalian, L., (2021). Indigenous internationalism: Land-centered literacies and education for resurgence. Research in the Teaching of English, 56(1), 112-115.
Sabzalian, L., Shear, S.B., & Snyder, J. (2021). Standardizing Indigenous erasure: A TribalCrit and QuantCrit analysis of K-12 US civics and governemnt standards. Theory & Research in Social Education, 47(3), 321-359. 
McCoy, M.L., Sabzalian, L., & Ender, T. (2021). Alternative strategies for family history projects: Rethinking family history projects in light of Indigenous perspectives. The History Teacher, 53(3), 473-508. 
Cordes, A., & Sabzalian, L., (2020). The urgent need for anticolonial literacy. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 22(2), 182-201.
Sabzalian, L., Morrill, A., & Edmo, S. (2019). Deep organizing and Indigenous studies legislation in Oregon. Journal of American Indian Education, 58(3), 34-57.
Jacob, M.M., Beavert, V., Anderson, R., Sabzalian, L., & Jansen, J. (2019). The importance of Ichishkíin in advancing Indigenous feminist education. Feminist Studies, 45(2/3), 1-22.
Jacob, M.M., Sabzalian, L., RunningHawk Johnson, S., Jansen, J., & Morse, G.S. (2019). We need to make action NOW, to help keep the language alive: Navigating tensions of engaging Indigenous educational values in university education. American Journal of Community Psychology, 64(1/2), 126-136.
Sabzalian, L., (2019). The tension between Indigenous sovereignty and multicultural citizenship education: Toward an anticolonial approach to civic education. Theory and Research in Social Education.
Sabzalian, L., Miyamoto-Sundahl, R., & Fong, R. (2019). The time is now: Taking initiative for Indigenous studies in elementary curriculum. Oregon Journal of the Social Studies, 7(1), 6-19.
Sabzalian, L., (2018). Curricular standpoints and Native feminist theories: Why Native feminist theories should matter to curriculum studies. Curriculum Inquiry, 4(3) 1-23.
Jacob, M.M., Sabzalian, L., Jansen, J., Tobin, T.J., Vincent, C.G., & LaChance, K.M. (2018). The gift of education: How Indigenous Knowledges can transform the future of public education. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 20(1), 157- 185.
Sabzalian, L., (2016). Native feminisms in motion. English Journal, 106(1), 23 – 30.
Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. (2019). Beyond Pocahontas: Learning from Indigenous women changemakers. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 31(3), 7-13.
Shear, S.B., Sabzalian, L., & Buchanan, L. (2018). Teaching Indigenous sovereignty in elementary civics education. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 31(1), 12-18.
Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. (2022). Indigenous futurities and the possibilities of social studies. In A. E. Vickery & N. Naseem Rodríguez (Eds.), Critical Race Theory and social studies futures: From the nightmare of racial realism to dreaming out loud (pp. 153-163). Teachers College Press.
Turtle Island Social Studies Collective. (2022). Insurgence must be red: Connecting Indigenous studies and social studies education for anticolonial praxis. In S. B. Shear, N. H. Merchant, & W. Au (Eds). Insurgent social studies: Scholar-educators disrupting erasure and marginality (pp. 9-29). Gorham, ME: Myers Education Press.
Morrill, A., & Sabzalian, L., (2022). Survivance-based inquiries in and beyond the academy. In A. R. Tachine & Z Nicolazzo (Eds.), Weaving an otherwise: Reframing qualitative research through relational lenses (pp. 29-43). Sterline, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Sabzalian, L., Malliett, D., & Helms, H. (2020). Indigenous education on Indigenous terms: A collective effort to support Indigenous education in a public school district. In M. Jacob & S. RunningHawk Johnson (Eds.). On Indian ground: A return to Indigenous knowledge: Generating hope, leadership, and sovereignty through education. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.
Sabzalian, L., & Shear, S.B.. (2018). Confronting colonial blindness in civics education: Recognizing colonization, self-determination, and sovereignty as core knowledge for elementary social studies teacher education. In S. Shear, C.M. Tschida, E. Bellows, L.B. Buchanan, & E.E. Saylor (Eds.). (Re)Imagining elementary socialsStudies: A controversial issues reader (153-176). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Press.

Honors and Awards

2021                Fellow, Williams Council Fellowship Award

2020                Outstanding Book Award, American Educational Research Association (AERA) 

2020                Human Rights Leadership Award, Springfield Alliance for Education and Respect (SAFER)

2019                Indigenous Educator of the Year, Oregon Indian Education Association

2018                Honorable Mention, National Council of Teachers of English English Journal Edwin M. Hopkins Award

2017                Curriculum Inquiry Writing Institute Fellow, Ontario, CA

2017                Outstanding Dissertation Award, Narrative SIG, American Educational Research Association

2016                Outstanding Dissertation Award, Division B, American Educational Research Association

2014                National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship