Melissa K. Nelson, Ph.D. is a cultural ecologist, writer, media-maker and indigenous scholar-activist. She is an associate professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and president of The Cultural Conservancy, an indigenous rights organization, which she has directed since 1993. Melissa is Anishinaabe/Métis/Norwegian and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her work is dedicated to indigenous revitalization, environmental restoration, intercultural understanding, and the renewal and celebration of community health and cultural arts.
Melissa received her B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, both in the field of Ecology with an emphasis in Native American Studies. Melissa publishes essays in academic and popular journals and books. Her first edited anthology Original Instructions – Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future (2008), features three of her essays and focuses on the persistence of traditional ecological knowledge by contemporary Native communities.
In 2005 Melissa was the co-producer of the award-winning documentary film, The Salt Song Trail: Bringing Creation Back Together. She serves on the boards of directors of the Collective Heritage Institute/Bioneers and the Center For Whole Communities and is an advisory board member of the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies. In 2006 – 2007 Melissa was a Visiting Scholar at the American Indian Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2010 – 2011 she served as the Anne Ray Resident Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Melissa and her husband composer/musician Colin Farish live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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