Dustin Tahmahkera

Profile picture for Dustin Tahmahkera

Contact Information

American Indian Studies
1204 W Nevada Street
M/C 138
Urbana, IL 61801

Associate Professor
Interim Director


Dr. Tahmahkera, an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, is an interdisciplinary scholar of North American indigeneities, critical media, and sound.

Tahmahkera's first book Tribal Television: Viewing Native People in Sitcoms (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) foregrounds representations of the indigenous, including Native actors, producers, and comedic subjects, in U.S., First Nations, and Canadian television and other media from the 1930s-2010s within the historical contexts of federal policy and social activism. His current book project "Cinematic Comanches: Representing in the Media Borderlands" (under contract with the University of Nebraska Press' "Indigenous Films" series) is a cultural history of real and reel Comanches' performative work onscreen and off in the production of what Tahmahkera calls "Comanchería cinema."

For more on this research, see his articles "'We're Gonna Capture Johnny Depp!': Making Kin with Cinematic Comanches" in American Indian Culture and Research Journal (UCLA Press) and "Haaka tsa Kwitop Hahka?: Seeking Representational Jurisdiction in Comanchería Cinema" in Native American and Indigenous Studies (University of Minnesota Press).

This research informs his forthcoming curated exhibit, also called "Cinematic Comanches,” for the Comanche National Museum in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 2020. The exhibit will feature the film work of Tahmahkera's g-g-great grandfather Quanah Parker in his co-starring role in The Bank Robbery (1908), Quanah's children's roles in Daughter of Dawn (1920), and other cinematic work by Comanches as actors, directors, producers, film consultants, and critics.

Currently, Tahmahkera is also a 2019-2020 Faculty Fellow in the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois, where he is developing his project "Becoming Sound: Sonic Quests of Healing in Indian Country." "Becoming Sound" concentrates on indigenous well-being through sonic expression and ways of listening into cultural and sonic genealogies of what he calls "ancestral acoustics" in indigenous soundscapes. On Indigenous Peoples Day in 2017, the site Sounding Out! published Tahmahkera's "Becoming Sound: Tubitsinakukuru from Mt. Scott to Standing Rock." For his earlier work in indigenous sound studies, see "'An Indian in a White Man’s Camp': Johnny Cash's Indian Country Music" in the special Sound issue of American Quarterly.

Professor Tahmahkera serves on the Editorial Board of Cinema Journal, the official journal of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. He also consults on film projects, curates Indigenous film series (e.g., Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, 2018), writes curriculum guides (LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 and Through the Repellent Fence) for Vision Maker Media and PBS documentaries, and volunteers for Illinois Radio Reader. He has delivered invited talks, such as the 2017 annual Shaw Lecture in American Studies at Dickinson College, interviewed on podcasts like Eric Molinsky's Imaginary Worldsand served on the Community Advisory Board of KLRU, the Austin-based affiliate of PBS.

Recent Publications

Tahmahkera, D. (2018). Hakarʉ Marʉʉmatʉ Kwitaka? Seeking Representational Jurisdiction in Comanchería Cinema. Native American and Indigenous Studies, 5(1), 100. https://doi.org/10.5749/natiindistudj.5.1.0100

Tahmahkera, D. S. (2017). "We're Gonna Capture Johnny Depp": Making Kin with Cinematic Comanches. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 41(2), 23-42. https://doi.org/10.17953/aicrj.41.2.tahmahkera

Tahmahkera, D. (2016). Tubitsinakukuru: Listen closely. Biography - An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 39(3), 309-313. https://doi.org/10.1353/bio.2016.0040

Tahmahkera, D. (2014). Tribal television: Viewing native people in Sitcoms. University of North Carolina Press.

Tahmahkera, D. S. (2011). "An Indian in a white man's camp": Johnny Cash's Indian Country music. American Quarterly, 63(3), 591-617. https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2011.0039

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