Sierra Nevada Bishop Paiute
Photo by Kris Hohag, Instructor.
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We are filled with gratitude and excitement about announcing our first-ever U.S. based Dragons course. Introducing the Payahuunadü Nüümü Indigenous Nations Program, a 12-day course for Dragons and Nüümü students in California. 

This summer, eight Dragons students, ages 18-24, and four local Nüümü (Paiute) youth will learn together about Indigenous work to regain sovereignty over food, land, and water in Payahuunadü (Owens Valley, California). With a strong emphasis on developing tools for allyship, advocacy, and skills for social and environmental justice work, students will dive into topics like how to create good relations with the earth and human communities, Indigenous sovereignty over water, land, food and governance systems, and what decolonization would actually mean.

Meet our brilliant course designers:


Kris Hohag is an educator, artist and native of the Owens Valley.
Raised in Bishop as a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, Kris received his Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and his Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington. His work has focused on language revitalization, youth leadership development, outdoor education and building bridges between diverse cultures to unite over our common love of water and land.

A University and Rez-educated scholar and organizer, he initially built a solid reputation by working as a teacher in local schools and mentoring at-risk youth in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Sierra. Over time and by example, he has proven to be an influential community voice while honing his chops as an entrepreneur and artist.

Kris has worked with every tribal organization on his reservation serving Indian people across such central topics as education, economic development, language and culture, healthcare, and governance. He served a two year term on the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council, acting as Vice Chairman during 2014-2015. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the local clinic in his community, Toiyabe Indian Health Project, as well as a rep for the statewide California Rural Indian Health Board.

Several key projects he spearheaded or played a vital role in locally include the Bishop Tribal Youth Council; the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Community Radio Station: KBPT 96.1 LPFM; the Eastern Sierra Writing Circle and Collective Language, a youth-oriented, monthly open mic and live show to build community and showcase local talent at the Wunut Novi Youth Media Arts Center.

He is a founding member of the Payahuunadü Alliance, a grassroots family of stewards comprised of diverse voices united around a great love for the lands east of the Sierras known as Payahuunadü.


Kinsinta Joseph is the daughter of Patricia and Tom Joseph who met during the Klamath River Fish Wars of the late 1970’s. Her mother is Hupa (Na:tinixwe’) and Karuk from the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in Northern California. Her father is Nuumu and Newe from Pa’ha Gwae, the southern part of Payahuunadü (Owens Valley, CA). As a youth, she traveled across Native country with her parents and nine siblings, learning the importance of nation building. She grew up participating in social justice movements, spending much time at the state capitol trying to persuade the Governor’s office to restore the rivers, advocating humane policies towards our immigrant relatives and helping raise awareness of police brutality. Her family founded California Kitchen at Standing Rock, a movement to bring attention to the destruction that fossil fuels is admitting to the Earth. California Kitchen was organized to feed and house people through the cold winter. Kinsinta is the founder of PayaHupaWay, a Native Jewelry brand focusing on cultural activities such as gathering basket materials, reminding us of our connection to help restore the land. Payahupaway promotes a lifestyle grounded in songs and prayers that is reflective of her ancestral teachings. Kinsinta most importantly is a mother and a partner to a Nuumü man. They have been working on curriculum that prioritizes Nuumu Yadoha (Paiute Language) and Traditional Ecological Knowledge so that their daughter and future generations of Nuumü Youth have the opportunity to learn what is relevant to them, the community, and the Land. She is a founding member of the Payahuunadü Alliance, an indigenous-led grassroots team of stewards united around a great love for Payahuunadü.


B.A. English, Mills College; M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago; Ph.D. Anthropology, Cornell University

Charis teaches with Dragons in Nepal and on Turtle Island (North America). In 2018, she completed her doctorate in cultural anthropology at Cornell University, where she studied, learned with, and wrote about herbalists, healers, and community organizers in the United States through an ethnographic lens. Her previous research as a student and Fulbright fellow in Nepal, between 2005 and 2009, focused on swayambhu or uTpati, self-arisen goddess worship sites. As an anthropologist, an herbalist, and a community organizer, Charis identifies as a scholar-practitioner, bringing these multiple perspectives on social justice and healing into her work as an educator. She draws on her background as an anthropologist of medicine, then environment, healing, and religion, and as a Buddhist practitioner whose attention to the world is shaped by the numinous and inexplicable. She seeks and makes magic alone and with groups, in the mountains and the deserts, always learning to listen better to what the earth has to say, a set of practices that she strives to share with others.

She is also informed, in teaching and in life, by her long-term commitment to building socially and environmentally just relations. In that mode, she teaches as an “act of radical love,” to borrow bell hooks’ excellent phrase, seeking to guide students toward their own truest life-path through intellectual engagement and direct experience together. The broad goal of her work in and out of learning spaces is to provide people not only with historical and cultural frameworks to understand situations or places, but also with the relevant tools, experiences, and relationships to engage more deeply with the world we live in and all its challenges. She has deep roots in community organizing and activism, and sees her work as a mode of discovery not just about what our world contains, but about how to make it better.


Learn more about sovereignty work and indigenous-led organizations: 



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