It is a dream. It is what people who have come here from the beginning of time have dreamed. It's a dream landscape. To the Native American, it's full of sacred realities, powerful things. It's a landscape that has to be seen to be believed. And as I say on occasion, it may have to be believed in order to be seen.
- N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa)
(Through Native Eyes)
Freedom, adventure, simplicity, resilience, honesty, and pastoral bliss describe the supposed characteristics of the cowboy and the American West, today and in times past. Genocide, racism, intolerance, displacement, inequity, brutality, and despair are more accurate terms to describe the West if you are one of its first inhabitants, a Native American. The myth of the American West and the romanticization and simultaneous vilification of its first inhabitants can represent itself in many social constructs: literature, films, poetry magazines, art, photography, clothing, speech and the internet. In my research, I explore the turbulent history of the West and the myths that have grown up around it and how this history has impacted the West’s first inhabitants: American Indians--namely, those located in Montana (where seven Native American reservations reside). Being a Native American woman born and raised in Montana, I have been personally impacted by misleading notions of Native American people in the West. In my research, I examine the often hostile nature of the West--both geographically and culturally. I explore the roots of the inherent racism embedded in the West. I interrogate the long-held belief among Westerners (past and present) that Native American people are an impediment to American progress. While historians of the American West abound, the Native American (and female) perspective on the West is seldom heard. I am compelled to bring a new perspective to America’s vision of the West.
"Haley Rains is an excellent communicator. She is a perfect example of an instructor on fire who empowers students to have a passion to learn about life's journey. She is personable, intelligent and encourages students to question and interact with the subject matter. Her compassion for the students and the subject matter is to be acknowledged. Her actions speak louder than words. Everyone has special abilities, strengths, and contributions. Thank you, H. Rains for acknowledging the value each individual brings."
Introduction to Native American Studies
WESTERN HISTORY ASSOCIATION
October 12-15, 2022
Join me for the 62nd Annual Western History Association Conference, which is scheduled for October 12-15, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas, at the Hyatt Regency. I will be presenting my dissertation research there as well as chairing a panel of scholars whose research is on Indian Boarding schools. #WHA22 #wearenotyoursavages
February 3, 2022
KALICO Art Center announces its first exhibition of 2022, “Imagining Ourselves: Celebrating Indigenous Culture, Color, and Vibrancy” by artist Haley Rains.
POPULAR CULTURE ASSOCIATION
April 13-16, 2022
Join me for my presentation, We Are Not Your Savages: Deconstructing the Myth of the American Frontier through Native American Visual Sovereignty, at the 2022 Popular Cultural Association’s Annual Conference. I will be presenting in the Mythology in Contemporary Culture section #PCAACA22
NATIVE AMERICAN MEDIA ALLIANCE - UNSCRIPTED WORKSHOP
October 1, 2021
I am one of eight participants who have been selected for the inaugural Unscripted Workshop hosted by Native American Media Alliance. Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, A+E, Yahoo!, CNN, Turner Sports, and the Cherokee Nation Film Office.
"I AM WHO I SAY I AM: RECLAIMING NATIVE AMERICAN IDENTITY"
September 28, 2021
"I Am Who I Say I Am: Reclaiming Native American Identity through Visual Sovereignty." Check out my piece for Imagining America in which I talk about my publicly engaged scholarship and art and the importance of Native American self-representation in media and popular culture.
OF COMMUNITY AND CULTURE: A SNAPSHOT OF TRIBAL COLLEGE ALUMNI
August 23, 2021
Check out my interview with the Tribal College Journal (Volume 33, No. 1 - Fall 2021) where I discuss my journey from a Tribal College/University (TCU) graduate to a PhD student and college instructor and how being a TCU graduate has uniquely qualified me for a career in higher education.
2021 UC DAVIS
ARTS & HUMANITIES
June 10 - September 6
Check out my virtual exhibit at the Manetti Shrem Museum and view my photo collection, “A Good Day to Garden,” which is part of the photography component of We Are Not Your Savages. It features Christina Thomas (Northern Paiute/Western Shoshone/Hopi) and her son, Jace.
Kindness and encouragement are core to my teaching philosophy. I strive to create safe spaces in my classrooms where students feel comfortable freely exchanging their ideas, regardless of their gender, race, language, ideology, or socioeconomic class. Positive reinforcement is crucial in this process, and I embed it in every aspect of my classes. By developing a sense of community in my classroom and by including content that resonates with students, I create a class culture that values deep learning, emphasizes individual expression, and empowers and emboldens students to express their thoughts openly and confidently.
My goal is to ensure that students’ courses emerge as a meaningful component of their learning experience at UC Davis. The attributes that I believe the very best teachers should possess are kindness, compassion, enthusiasm, dedication, humility, transparency, tenacity, and curiosity.
We must be kind to our students because I believe it is our responsibility to instill confidence in them. Responding to their questions and observations with kindness boosts their confidence and encourages them to speak up more frequently. We must be compassionate because we never know what our students are going through; sometimes, they are dealing with really heavy issues so we must be patient and gentle with them. We must be enthusiastic about our academic subjects. When we are excited, our students are excited. We must be dedicated to our students’ learning and always prioritize their needs. They look to us for guidance and support, so we have to make ourselves available to them, regardless of what we might be experiencing in our own lives.
We must always be humble. We have a responsibility to validate ideas, even if they may appear to be at odds with our own. We must be transparent about our expectations and forthcoming about the things we do not know. We must be tenacious in our teaching; if something is not working, it is incumbent on us to find a solution. Finally, we must always remain curious. I continue to learn from students every quarter, and I let them know that I am genuinely interested and curious about their opinions.
Our students are brilliant; as an educator, you just have to provide an opportunity for them to reach their full potential. We must facilitate dialogue, not get in the way of our students’ learning, be deliberate in the way we structure our courses and deliver our content, never be punitive in our teaching and grading, and encourage and affirm our students at every turn. The results speak for themselves.
What comes to mind when you hear "Native American"? Is it feathers? Headdresses? War paint? Cowboys, horses, and shootouts? Powwows and frybread? If you responded "Yes" to any of these questions, you might be suffering from a highly narrow perception of Native American people. Please consult a Native right away.
THE SUREÑO (2020)
Sureños, meaning "Southerners," are members of a Mexican gang in California whose greater allegiance is to the Mexican Mafia. Miguel (a.k.a. "Silent") was jumped (i.e., initiated) into his local gang at the age of 23. Although he must go to great lengths to protect himself, his family, and his fellow gang members from the omnipresent threat of inner-city violence, he wants people to know that, despite being gang-affiliated, he is not much different from the average American citizen.
EDWARD CURTIS: RE-IMAGINED (2019)
A series of photographs that depict present-day indigenous people in a style that mirrors American photographer Edward S. Curtis’s early 20th century photos of Native American people. I have re-imagined Curtis’s photography by exploring some of the ways he may have photographed contemporary indigenous people if he were still alive today. I have produced a series of photographs of contemporary indigenous people and have juxtaposed them with some of Curtis’s most famous photographs.