NAS Faculty

Dr. Michael Brown, Ph.D. ( )
Department of Philosophy: Born and raised in the shadows of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations of Montana, Michael Brown is descended from the metis of southern Saskatchewan . He came to Creighton in 1987 after taking an MA from the University of Notre Dame and the PhD from Emory University. He specializes in metaphysics, epistemology, and their relation to both literature and religion, especially native, non-Christian religion. In his “Skepticism, Religious Belief, and the Extent of Doxastic Reliability,” for example, (the last chapter of Faith In Theory and Practice , edited by Elizabeth Radcliffe and published by Open Court in 1992), he argues that as regards both their means of establishing a given belief, and the relation between the beliefs established by that means and the apparently competing beliefs implied by science, native religions are no more ‘odd' or epistemically unreliable than relevantly similar beliefs in religions which derive from the Hebraic root. At present he is working on a book-length, philosophical companion to Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It , in which, among other things, he rehabilitates the image of the native Cheyenne woman that Maclean presents. Dr. Brown has been married to Christina Lee Egging, a native of Nebraska, for over twenty years, and together they have two sons, Spencer and Alexander. Whenever they can, the Browns walk far into the mountains, prairie or canyonlands, and tell stories around a campfire.


Dr. Lydia Cooper, Ph.D. (
Department of English: Lydia R. Cooper joined the Creighton English department in fall, 2011. Her research specialization is in 20th and 21st-century American and American Indian literature. She received her Ph.D. from Baylor University. In addition to a book and numerous articles on Cormac McCarthy, she has written and published on several contemporary American Indian novelists. Her recent articles include an examination of environmental and spiritual intersections in Linda Hogan’s Power, published in Interdisciplinary Studies in Language and Environment, and a comparative analysis of atonement theory in novels by David Treuer and Sherman Alexie, which was published in Studies in American Indian Literature. She will present a paper on critiques of post-9/11 national catastrophe narratives in Alexie’s novel Flight at Northeast Modern Languages Association conference in March, 2012. Her current research interests examine the semiotics of religion from a transcultural perspective in contemporary American Indian fiction.  

Dr. Barbara Dilly, Ph.D. ( )
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Barbara J. Dilly is assistant professor of anthropology at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. Her applied research interests focus on rural social and economic development in Latin America and the American Midwest. Her field research among the indigenous Makushi people of the Guyanese rainforest in the mid 1990's examines the relationship between ecotourism and cultural preservation. Her analysis is published as a chapter in Globalization and the Rural Poor in Latin America, a monograph on Directions in Applied Anthropology, edited by William M. Loker, 1999 by Lynne Rienner Publishers. Her article, "Women without Men: Development Policies and Practices in the Guyanese Rain Forest" will appear in the Women and Development issue of Women's Studies Quarterly Volume 31, numbers 3 & 4 (spring/summer 2004).

Fr. Don Doll, S.J. ( )
Department of Journalismand Mass Communication: Don Doll has become well-known as photographer whose work has been featured in National Geographic with the Yupik Eskimos in the "Hunters of the Bering Sea" June, 1984 and "The Athapaskans along the Yukon, February, 1990]. Doll has published two books and a CD-ROM on Native Americans. The most recent is entitled: Vision Quest: Men, Women, and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation, published by Random House's Crown books. The exhibit traveled to 17 cities. Doll was introduced to both photography and to the Lakota people in the early Sixties when he was assigned to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota as a young Jesuit. In May of 1997, Doll was presented with the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for his over twenty years of photography among Native Americans.

Fr. Michael Flecky, S.J. ( )
Department of Fine and Performing Arts: Michael Flecky SJ is Professor of Photography in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Creighton University, where he has taught fine art photography, criticism, and history for the last 22 years.  In addition to his MFA degree in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology, he holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from St. Louis University, and a Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.  In addition to teaching on the faculty at Creighton University, he has served as an ordained Jesuit Catholic priest for 26 years.  While teaching at Creighton University, where he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1988, he has been visiting professor of photography in London and in the Dominican Republic.  His photographs have appeared nationally in numerous one-person and juried group exhibitions, and he has published articles on photographic history and criticism.  He contributed to the Focal Press Encyclopedia of Photography, and his photographs appear regularly in America Magazine, the national Jesuit magazine of opinion and the arts. 

Mr. Taylor R.M. Keen, M.A. (
Taylor Keen’s primary mission is to help Native Nations move proactively towards “economic self-reliance” through business development, enabling legislation and governmental reform.  A new member of the NAS Advisory Board, Taylor will teach a seminar this spring entitled “Nation Building” focusing on tribal sovereignty and institutional development.
A former member of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, Taylor was Vice President of Cherokee Nation Enterprises Inc. and was the project leader in the $80MM Phase 1 development of the Cherokee Casino and Resort near Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Keen holds a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College as well as a Master's of Business Administration and Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University, where he served as a Christian Johnson Fellow as a part of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development.
Taylor served as the 2007 President of the Board of Directors for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, and is a co-author of the article "Tribal Sovereignty and Economic Development," which was published this spring for the Smithsonian Institution's Handbook of the American Indian.
Keen is an active member of the Native community as a member of the Omaha Native American Church, the Omaha Hethuska (Warriors) Society and the Kiowa Taipiah Gourd Clan.

Dr. Michael Kelly, Ph.D. ( )
Law School: Michael Kelly is assistant professor of law at Creighton University School of Law, where he teaches courses on Native American law, international law and national security law. He serves on the Native American Studies Faculty Advisory Committee and also participated in the 2001-2002 University Diversity Project Seminar, studying Native American culture through readings and discussion with faculty from many departments and divisions on campus. Professor Kelly is the author of a study tracking the "Kennewick Man" litigation which appeared in the 1999 issue of the University of Hawaii Law Review. It discusses the challenges associated with application of the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act to the inadvertent discovery of ancient, prehistoric human remains - especially those which do not categorically fit within typical morphologic parameters for Native Americans.

Dr. Jay Leighter, Ph.D. (
Department of Communications Studies: Jay Leighter joined the Department of Communication Studies in 2006. As an ethnographer of communication, he is interested in face-to-face social interaction in everyday life. Two basic questions serve as the impetus for his research and teaching: 1) How are moments for speaking culturally influenced? And, 2) how do people make decisions about the community in which they live? Jay teaches courses in small group and cultural communication. In the latter, he places special emphasis on Native American ways of speaking. Jay earned his MA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his PhD from the University of Washington.

Dr. Tracy Leavelle, Ph.D. ( )
Department of History: Tracy Neal Leavelle joined the Department of History as an assistant professor in 2003. He came to Creighton University from Smith College, where he was the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities for 2001-2003. There, he taught in the American Studies Program and participated in the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute project on "Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Ancient and Modern Worlds." He completed his undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology and Native American studies at Dartmouth College and attended Arizona State University, where he earned his Ph.D. in history. His teaching and research interests include early American, American Indian, and religious history. His current research examines the nature of spiritual encounters between Catholic missionaries and American Indians in colonial North America, exploring such issues as the translation and reception of religious concepts, the impact of gender and generational differences on Native responses to Christianity, and the role of religion in shaping colonial geographies. The working title of his book is Encounters of Spirit: Religion, Culture, and Community in French and Indian North America. Other works in progress include a study of conflicts over Native American cultural landscapes and sacred sites and an interview with a Cree ceremonial leader that examines issues of religious tolerance and intolerance.

Dr. Victoria Roche, Ph.D. ( )
School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (SPAHP) : Dr. Roche is a professor of Pharmacy Sciences and a medicinal chemist by formal education. She has long identified with traditional Native values and belief systems, but only recently became formally involved with Native American issues. A discussion with a former student, LCDR Clint Hinman, who is now Director of Pharmacy at the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, sparked an intense interest to proactively and formally expose pharmacy students to opportunities for professional and community service to Native people, and to encourage them to elect careers in the Public Health Service. Dr. Roche now offers an elective course entitled "Learning through Reflective Service: The Native American Experience" each fall to 3-4 pharmacy students, and a companion elective ("Native American Culture and Health") that is open to all Pharmacy, OT, PT and NAS students. In these courses students learn about Native American cultural and health issues through: 1) readings, 2) interaction with Native healers, tribal and spiritual leaders and "ordinary" citizens, as well as non-Native health care providers and service-minded educators, in a seminar setting, and 3) personal reflection. The service learning students spend their fall break with Dr. Hinman in Chinle, AZ, providing professional and community-related service to the Dine population. Dr. Roche has also recently been appointed to the Advisory Board of the SPAHP's Office for Interprofessional Scholarship and Service (OIPS), which works in collaboration with Native health care facility executives and practitioners to provide rehabilitation services to the people of Macy and Winnebago, NE. As a newcomer to this area of study, Dr. Roche considers herself more of a student than a teacher, and has been intellectually energized and personally gratified by everything she has learned thus far.

Dr. Richard Witmer, Ph.D. ( )
Department of Political Science: Richard Witmer is an assistant professor of Political Science where he teaches courses on American Indian politics, policy and tribal governments as well as courses in American Politics. His current research projects include the political participation of American Indians tribes and tribal leaders in non-tribal elections and politics. A second area of research includes the tribal-state compacting process. His recent publications include an examination of the U.S. Governments approach to Indian Environmental policy entitled “Federal Indian Law and Environmental Policy: A Social Continuity of Violence” with Peter Jacques and Sharon Ridgeway, and an examination of the spread of Indian gaming from state to state entitled “Disentangling Diffusion: The Effect of Social Learning and Economic Competition on State Policy Innovation and Expansion” with Fred Boehmke.