Ian Khara Ellasante

About Ian Khara Ellasante

Ian Khara Ellasante is a doctoral candidate in American Indian Studies with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. In his scholarship, he engages the Indigenous peoplehood matrix, a core theoretical construct developed by Indigenous scholars and comprised of four interrelated elements: land, language, sacred history, and ceremonial cycle. In his dissertation, “‘We Are This People and We Intend to Endure As Such’: Black and Indigenous Peoplehood and Persistence,” he employs the peoplehood matrix to delineate Indigenous cultural identity and suggests a parallel model of African American peoplehood. He demonstrates that, in both models, the interconnectedness of the elements of peoplehood establishes and maintains persistent cultural identity, particularly within the milieu of settler colonialism.  


In addition to this fulfilling scholarship, Ian also enjoys hiking, making art, and composing poetry. In his poems, which have been shared with audiences around the country and have appeared in several publications, Ian often explores the polyphonic intersection of his identities as a queer- and trans-identified person of African American and Indigenous descent as well as his relationship with his heritage and homelands. 


Ian has worked as a researcher-advocate for unstably-housed LGBTQ and Two Spirit young people in a number of roles, with the goal of increasing access to the kinds of relevant and affirming opportunities for queer and trans People of Color and LGBTQ youth that he could not often find in his hometown of Memphis. Ian began this work in 2008 at Arizona’s first drop-in center for LGBTQ youth before accepting a position with the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA-SIROW), where he served until 2016. Ian is also a proud recipient of the Point Scholarship, having been awarded in 2016 as a Calamus Point Scholar. Currently, Ian is the Visiting Scholar and Artist in Residence at Washington & Jefferson College, teaching a course he designed titled “Gender in Native American Literature.” 

Ian uses pronouns he/him and they/them.
2018: A global perspective on LGBTQ+ substance use, treatment, and gaps in research. (under review) (with Powell, C., Stevens, S., & Korchmaros, J.D.) 
2017: Pathways into and out of homelessness for LGBTQ2S youth. In A. Abramovich & J. Shelton (Eds.) Where Am I Going to Go? Intersectional Approaches to Ending LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada & the U.S. (49-61). Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. (with Wheeler, C. & Price, C.)

2016: iTEAM: Outcomes of an affirming system of care serving LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Journal of Contemporary Social Services Families in Society, Vol. 97(3), 181-190. (with Powell, C., Korchmaros, J.D., Haverly, K., & Stevens, S.)

October, 2017: “Sovereignty and story: Shaping LGBTQ, Two Spirit, and African Native American identities,” Paper presented at the Indigenous People’s Day Conference: From Erasure to Activism: Restorying Indigenous Narratives. Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS.
January, 2016: "Supporting change for LGBTQ young adults: Practical use of motivational interviewing." Webinar presented in collaboration with YMSM+LGBT Center of Excellence. (with Courtney Waters & Paul Warren)
January, 2015: "The value of advocacy for LGBTQ youth of color." Presented at the Black Life Matters Conference. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. 
February, 2018: “Re-Storying and re-naming: Two Spirit healing and resistance in the enduring face of settler colonialism,” Presented at the American Indian Studies Association Conference, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.
April, 2016: “In whose image: Trans and genderqueer writers on magic, spirituality, and (the bodies of) 
G—d” (with TC Tolbert, Ryka Aoki, CA Conrad, & Joy Ladin), Presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, Los Angeles, CA.
March, 2016: "Transitional age LGBTQ young adults: Creating a system of care to support resilience and empowerment." Presented at the Arizona Staye University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy Annual Conference on Integrated Healthcare, Phoenix, AZ.
November, 2015: "All genders celebrated: Programming strategies to affirm and empower transgender and genderqueer youth." Presented at the Transgender Spectrum Conference, University of Missouri. St. Louis, MO. 
June, 2015: "The ANCHOR Project: Striving for whole health and wellness through a trauma-informed system of care for LGBTQ+ transitional age youth and young adults." Presented at the 16th Annual Summer Institute, Innovations and Essentials for Advancing Health, Sedona, AZ.
June, 2014: "Assessing sexual orientation, substance abuse and HIV risk behavior among lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women living along the US/Mexico border." Presented at the International Women's and Children's Health and Gender Group Conference, San Juan, PR.
July, 2013: "Community-based collaboration: iTEAM’s wrap-around care for LGBTQ youth." Presented at Arizona State University Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy’s 14th Annual Summer Institute, Sedona, AZ. 
October, 2015: “Communal Poetry: The Re-Membering of Language.” Developed for QTPOC Fest (Queer and Trans People of Color).
May, 2013: “Queering Liminality: The Uncommon Beauty and Creative Potential of Middle Spaces.” Developed for “Troubling Tucson: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry Symposium.”
April, 2013: “Building Poetry and Community.” Developed for Tucson LGBTQ Youth Poetry Workshop.
April - May, 2013: “Writing the Threshold: Poetry in Transitional Spaces.” Developed for Casa Libre en la Solana.
“Diana: impending.” The Feminist Wire. 10 February 2016.
“a dialect of water,” “earth, water, and what is built,” and “pale grandfathers.” Hinchas de Poesia, Issue 12. April 2014. 
“Three Poems by Ian Ellasante.” The Feminist Wire. 12 June 2013.
“Ian Ellasante.” Jupiter 88: A Video Journal of Contemporary Poetry. 12 June 2013. Published Digital Video Recording.
“Trickhouse Speech Acts: Ian Ellasante Reading at Gate’s Pass.” 1 June 2013. Published Digital Video Recording.
On-Air Poetry Reading. “A Poet’s Moment.” KXCI FM. Aired 27 February 2013. Radio. 
“hinge: tongue—poems and poetics.” The Volta. Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics, Issue 24. 1 December 2012.
“the grand dole.” cur.ren.cy: poetry and prose for hard times. November 2011.

Areas of Study

Cultural Identity

Peoplehood matrix

African Diasporic and Native American cultural exchange 

Settler colonial studies

Poetry and poetics

American Indian cultures and literatures 

African American cultures and literatures

LGBTQ and Two Spirit health and wellness

Black and Indigenous feminisms 

Gender/Sexuality/Queer Studies

Indigenous epistemologies

Community-based participatory research 

Critical Indigenous research methodologies

Ian Khara Ellasante's picture

Contact Information

Ian Khara Ellasante
Ph.D. Candidate


Ph.D., American Indian Studies, University of Arizona, in Progress
Ph.D. Minor: Gender and Women's Studies

Doctoral Certificate, College Level Teaching, University of Arizona, 2014

M.A., American Indian Studies, University of Arizona, 2013
Thesis: "Bridges Between Me: Alienation, Liminality, and Re/Integration in American Indian Literature"

B.A., University of Memphis, 2005
Majors: Sociology and English 
Minors: Spanish and Biology

Dissertation Title

‘We Are This People and We Intend to Endure As Such’: Black and Indigenous Peoplehood and Persistence
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences