Adrienne Keene

Adrienne Keene

Native Scholar, Writer, Activist, and Creator of "Native Appropriations"



Dr. Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) is a scholar, writer, blogger, podcast host, and activist. She is passionate about reframing how the world sees contemporary Native cultures. She is the creator and author of Native Appropriations, a blog discussing cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Native peoples in fashion, film, music, and other forms of pop culture. She is the author of Notable Native People: 50 Indigenous Leaders, Dreamers, and Changemakers from Past and Present (October 2021- Penguin Random House/Ten Speed Press). And she is co-host (with Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip)) of the popular podcast, All My Relations, that explores what it means to be a Native person in contemporary America.

Through her writing and activism, Keene questions and problematizes the ways Indigenous peoples are represented, asking for celebrities, large corporations, and designers to consider the ways they incorporate "Native" elements into their work. She is very interested in how Native peoples are using social and new media to challenge misrepresentations and present counter-narratives that showcase true Native cultures and identities.

A former professor at Brown University, Adrienne earned her BA from Stanford University in Native American Studies and Cultural Anthropology, and her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in Culture, Communities, and Education. Her research focuses on college access for Native (American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian) students and the role of precollege access programs in student success. She has a has a deep personal commitment to exploring research methodologies that empower Native communities and privilege Native voices and perspectives, with the ultimate goal of increasing educational outcomes for Native students.

A highly-sought after speaker, Adrienne has presented at campuses, non-profits, and companies nationwide as well as at numerous conferences including keynoting at NCORE - the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education.

Moving Beyond Land Acknowledgements & Token Representations More and more, universities, organizations, and companies are drafting and implementing Indigenous land acknowledgement statements and media makers are hoping to incorporate Native representations into their work. But how do we make sure that these attempts at recognition and representation don't stop at check-boxes or symbolic work, or become token inclusion without meaningful change? In this presentation, Dr. Keene discusses the history and context of these current movements and examines case studies of how to move beyond the token or symbolic and into deeper, sustainable change.

Native Appropriations, Indigenous Social Media, and Responding to Racism This presentation also covers cultural appropriation and stereotyping, but pulls in more of the personal story behind Native Appropriations, and the journey of thinking about the blog as a space to challenge racism, and understanding the blog as a space for "consenting to learn in public." I cover the 4 "C"s of the blog: Critical Lens, Contemporary Issues, Community, and Counter-narratives, and the ways each of these play out in the space of Native Appropriations. I also discuss and provide practical advice about handling the deluge of hate mail that can accompany being a woman of color on the internet, and the power of the space to create real change, as well as how a blog can work alongside an academic career path.

Native Representations, Pop Culture, and Cultural Resistance in Cyberspace This presentation delves into the concepts of stereotypes and cultural appropriation, and looks at the ways Native peoples are represented throughout popular culture--from Hollywood to the fashion industry, and discusses the way that Native peoples are pushing back on misrepresentation through social and new media, using case studies from native appropriations about Paul Frank, Urban Outfitters, The Lone Ranger, and more. Audience members will walk away with language and tools of how to talk about the harms of cultural appropriation, but also the best ways to incorporate Native fashion and Native media respectfully.

Representations Matter: Serving Native Students in Higher Education This presentation discusses the experience of Native students in higher education, using my own experiences at Stanford in dealing with mascots and misrepresentations, while providing context and statistics about the invisibility of Native students in college spaces. I make an argument that universities need to ask themselves 4 questions: Whose land are you on? Who are your Native students? How are you recruiting and retaining Native students? and How are Native peoples represented on your campus? as a means to think through the ways schools can better support Native communities and students. I provide research and examples on the ways Native peoples are misrepresented and stereotyped to build a case for why representations matter.

The Strange Case of the Hipster Headdress: Reclaiming Indigenous Representations From Hollywood portrayals to invisibility in national conversations on race and inequality, throughout the history of what is currently known as the United States Native peoples have been misrepresented, stereotyped, and erased. But now, through the internet and platforms like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, Indigenous activism around issues of representation and identity have gained traction and visibility. This presentation explores the ways Native peoples have harnessed the power of storytelling through social media to change perceptions, make our communities visible, and tell our own modern, diverse stories in our own voices.

Other speech topics include:

  • Native American Mascots and Cultural Appropriation
  • Learning to Lead from Behind a Keyboard: Representations, Activism, and Native Appropriations
  • Cultural Appropriation in Fashion and Pop Culture: What is it and why does it matter?
  • College Pride, Native Pride: Native Student Experiences in College
  • Who's Got Reservations? Media and Its Role in Native America

Dr. Keene is also open to any other topics on Native representations, stereotypes, mascots, social media activism, or cultural appropriation; as well as the experiences of Native students in college environments.

  Topic Areas

High School Programs
Race/Racial Justice/Racism
Intercultural Competency/Relations

  Related Links


Adrienne Keene


A Story from Appian Way: Adrienne Keene


Admiration/Appropriation: Native Art Globalized

Please consider booking Dr. Adrienne Keene to work with your organization. She is a brilliant scholar and engaging speaker who will provide you with meaningful action steps toward a more equitable and inclusive organizational culture. Dr. Keene was a pleasure to work with and I hope to collaborate with her on future endeavors.
Annie McBride Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, The University of Kansas

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