• Respected Native American Educator & Professional

  • Overcoming Challenges and Giving Back to Others

  • A Proven Track Record of Success

Nikishna Polequaptewa

About Nikishna

Nikishna Numkina Polequaptewa is an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe in northeastern Arizona. He belongs to the Badger and Spider clans and is an active member of the broader American Indian community. Nikishna served as the founding Director of the American Indian Resource Center at the University of California, Irvine. He graduated with numerous awards and honors from Sherman Indian High School, where he served as Senior Class President and Athlete of the Year. Nikishna then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine, majoring in Environmental Analysis & Design and minoring in Information & Computer Science. He went on to receive his Master of Science degree from Central Washington University in Resource Management.

Recent awards include the 2014 “Rupert Costo Medal for American Indian Affairs” presented by the University of California, Riverside; the 2012 “Faculty/Staff of the Year Award” presented by the Cross Cultural Center; the 2011 “Native American Professional of the Year Award” presented by the Native American Professional Development Conference; the 2010 “Chairman’s Leadership Award” presented by the National Indian Gaming Association, the 2009 “Native American 40 Under 40 Award” presented by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and the 2008 “Living our Values Award” presented by UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. Nikishna serves on a multitude of boards, committees, and councils on local, regional, and national organizations, non-profits, and campus divisions. Nikishna served as President of the University of California, American Indian Counselors & Recruiters Association (UCAICRA); Chair of the UCI Chancellors Advisory Committee on the Status of Staff (CACSS) Diversity Sub-Committee; Board of Directors Vice Chairman of the Nakwatsvewat Institute; Board Member of Divine Choices; Lifetime Member and Advisor of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES); and Member of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). Above all, Nikishna is happily wedded to Yolanda and is a proud father to his amazing daughters Nahui, Huitzil and Quetzal Polequaptewa.

Nikishna Polequaptewa Profile Photo


  • Nikishna has a wonderful story and does a captivating job at relaying it to the audience. Very much enjoyed it and learned a lot!! Thanks!

    – Lindsay H.

  • I love Nikishna’s approachable style, and his real life stories. They make the material very engaging and applicable to my interactions with everyday folk and therapy clients with whom I may see. He is able to balance humor with authenticity, and therefore, I felt like he was genuinely interested in educating me about the Native American cultures. Awesome speaker!

  • Nikishna your presentation was powerful! amazing! I love that you disclosed your own story growing up and your many successes in life. This made the presentation very effective.

    Although you own your own culture and beliefs, Your presentation captivated the attention of the class! I sense that regardless of belief system or ethnicity, the whole class gained something from your presentation. Reference to what you said, ‘cascade effect.’ This was awesome, since its a culture class!

    I am sure that you will continue to touch the lives of many helping professionals, students and individuals in broken situations. You would be a breath of fresh air to foster children/youth. They need someone like you, who keeps it real and is able to promote a connection.

    I work with a foster youth agency. I would love to reach out to you in the near future to present for the youth. Best of luck to you! Thank you!”

    – Karla Davila

  • Thank you for being such an inspiration!

    – Claudette Antuna

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