Institute of American Indian Arts Welcomes Shelia Rocha as Visiting Assistant Professor

Dr. Sheila Rocha

Dr. Sheila Rocha

Published August 25, 2016

SANTA FE – Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Academic Dean Charlene Teters (Spokane) has announced a new member of the IAIA faculty — Shelia Rocha, who has been named Visiting Assistant Professor in Performing Arts.

Shelia comes to IAIA with 25 years of experience in theater, performing arts, social justice theater, and Native American studies scholarship.  She received her PhD degree this August in American Indian Interdisciplinary studies from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation examines the use of performance text to explore post-Indian identities integrating playwriting and critical discussion, and ultimately social justice theater processes that yield performance power to the community.

She has served as a practitioner of social justice and multicultural theater, an arts educator, and cultural storyteller for over 20 years. In addition, she is a multi-genre published author and playwright and recently completed her tenure as editor of Red Ink magazine. She has worked with some of the most notable Native American authors of this generation and has taught creative writing in all genres.

Her experience in theater, performing arts, social justice theater, and Native American studies scholarship includes teaching positions at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of Arizona, and Oglala Lakota College.

Dr. Rocha utilizes both music and theater as therapeutic ways to explore and discover interventions within our own experiences of trauma and has applied it in numerous environments. She has worked with Native and multicultural populations throughout her career as a theater artist/educator. As both a traditional and social justice theater practitioner, she brings a pedagogy that observes Indigenous praxis that employs relationality, responsibility, and reciprocity in both the learning space and the artistic outcome.

As a former multicultural director and artist with the Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater and The Rose Theater, she also holds an MA in English, an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Native American Studies.

Dean Teters commented on the hiring of Dr. Rocha and the IAIA Performing Arts Program:  “To use our voices and bodies to tell our stories thru performing arts is empowering and builds confidence in our students. We welcome Sheila to our community and look forward to her contributions to the next phase of our Performing Arts program.”
To arrange an interview with Dean Teters or Sheila Rocha, please contact Eric Davis at 505.424.2351, or

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