Deondre Smiles

Deondre Smiles
Assistant Professor
Critical Indigenous geographies; human-environmental interaction; political ecology; tribal cultural resource preservation
Office: DTB B306

PhD (Ohio State University, USA)

Area of expertise

Critical Indigenous geographies; human-environmental interaction; political ecology; tribal cultural resource preservation

I joined the Department of Geography in 2021, and currently serve as an Assistant Professor of Geography. I am Black/Ojibwe/settler, and am a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. I am a geographer whose research interests are multifaceted, including Indigenous geographies/epistemologies, human-environmental interaction, political ecology, and tribal cultural resource preservation/protection. I currently serve as the Chair of the Indigenous Peoples Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG); I am also a member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), and the Canadian Association of Geographers. (CAG). I also serve as a member of the editorial board of the journal Native American and Indigenous Studies.


My research interests lie at the intersection of several fields, including critical Indigenous geographies, human-environment interactions, political ecology, tribal cultural resource preservation, and science and technology studies. In particular, my current research agenda centers around investigating the ways that lessons learned by tribal nations in the defense of deceased tribal members, such as burial grounds/site protection and preservation, can be extended to the protection of the living environment, including more-than-human kin (animals, plants, water), creating new political possibilities for all living things, humans and more-than-human alike, in an era of climate crisis. I argue that all of these things represent a particularly effective form of ‘quotidian’ or everyday resistance against the settler colonial state and settler colonial structures. This direction in my work is part of a years-long research agenda extending back to my master’s thesis (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2016), and doctoral dissertation (The Ohio State University, 2020), which both focused on Indigenous/settler contestations over Indigenous remains and burial grounds. My work up to this point has been centered on Turtle Island (North America) and the United States, particularly in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, but I am also keenly interested in discovering the ways in which all of these processes play out on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, and in global contexts. Other academic interests of mine include research ethics with Indigenous communities and interdisciplinary work–I have collaborated with scholars in fields such as rhetoric, linguistics, and history.

Potential students: I am currently looking to recruit 1 M.A. student and possibly 1 Ph.D. student to work with me at the University of Victoria, for the 2022-23 academic year. If you are interested in working with me, please get in touch with me via e-mail–include your CV, and a brief introduction of yourself and the type of work that you want to do.


I enjoy teaching and view it as an essential part of my job. In my teaching experience, I make sure to include Indigenous perspectives in my lectures and curricula. As an Indigenous academic, it is important for me to teach material that brings Indigenous viewpoints into the classroom--this often means that I feature prominently in my classes works written by fellow Indigenous people, about Indigenous people. For any Indigenous-identifying students in my classes, this allows them to see that Indigenous perspectives have a place in the classroom and in the academy. For non-Indigenous students, this opens up their eyes and minds to a wealth of perspectives and worldviews that they may not ordinarily be exposed to, especially in the context of the United States and Canada. This furthermore challenges them to step outside of their comfort zones and to examine how they think about politics, environment, and space. I view this work as being essential to making space for Indigenous thought in academia, a goal to which I am deeply committed.

This year (2021-22), I will be teaching the following classes:

GEOG 388--Topics in Regional Studies (World Regional Geography)

GEOG 391--Topics in Geography (Indigenous Geography)

GEOG 491--Advanced Topics in Geography (Indigenous Environmental Activism)


A full list of my publications can be found here: