Michigan State University
Michigan State University
American Indian and Indigenous Studies
Christie Poitra
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Christie M. Poitra, Ph.D., is the Interim Director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Native
American Institute (NAI). She is a first-generation college graduate, Latina and first-generation
descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Dr. Poitra is an affiliate faculty
member in the MSU American Indian & Indigenous Studies program, and core faculty in the MSU
Gender Center for Global Context. She is also an affiliate in the MSU Bio/Computational
Evolution in Action Consortium. She is the recipient of the MSU Distinguished Community
Partnership Award, MSU Excellence in Diversity Award, Education Pioneers Fellowship, McNair
Scholars Program, and Michigan Educational Policy Fellowship Program. Prior to her work in NAI,
Dr. Poitra was an elementary teacher in a reservation public school. She was appointed for several
years in the MSU Office of K-12 Outreach—where she worked on issues of instructional leadership
in diverse school contexts. She served as a project manager for the Los Angeles Unified School
District, and an education consultant at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her doctorate is in
educational policy from the MSU College of Education. Dr. Poitra also holds a master of arts degree
in American Indian studies from UCLA, and a bachelor of arts degree in legal studies from UC
Berkeley.


Dr. Poitra is a scholar of K-12 Indigenous education policy and practice. Her research and service
interests are defined by three interrelated ideas. Firstly, how current state, federal, district and tribal
policy contexts affect Indigenous education experiences in K-12 schools (i.e., reservation and
reservation-adjacent schools). Her second area of inquiry looks at the efforts of institutional
partnerships (i.e., tribal governments, tribal colleges, universities and K-12 schools) to Indigenize K-
12 curriculum, practice and instructional leadership. Lastly, how tribal governments respond to
shifting political climates through educational policy and program development and implementation.