Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is an independent writer and researcher in Indigenous studies, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies and a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, and also holds the position of research associate and associate scholar at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. Her work focuses on issues related to Indigenous nationalism, self-determination, and environmental justice. She is a co-author (with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) of the forthcoming book from Beacon Press titled ‘All the Real Indians Died Off’ and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans. An award-winning journalist, she is a frequent contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network and Native Peoples Magazine.
An “urban Indian,” Dina grew up in Southern California bodysurfing the waves at Santa Monica and other beaches since childhood. After moving to the North Shore of Oahu in 1980 she learned how to board surf which was central to her life for several years. There she was one of the very few women who regularly surfed Pipeline. Eventually moving back to California, she migrated to Northern California far enough away from the ocean to have dropped out of surf culture. 25 years would pass before she would pick up surfing again.
Dina’s reentry into surfing happened ironically when she was in graduate school at the University of New Mexico. Having reconnected with a lost love from her North Shore days, she returned to Southern California, got married and settled in San Clemente. She wrote her master’s thesis (titled Panhe at the Crossroads: Toward an Indigenized Environmental Justice Discourse) on the Save Trestles campaign and toll road controversy which examined the role of Native American efforts to protect a sacred site, ultimately a major contributing factor to the defeat of the road-building project and saving the famous surf spot from potential destruction.
Since then Dina has written numerous articles on indigeneity in surf culture, focusing on the ways mainstream surf culture narratives have elided Native peoples in Hawaii and on the mainland and beyond, building on the work of Isaiah Helekunihi Walker and others. She has since collaborated with Krista Comer and Cori Schumacher on their Institute for Women Surfers project as a featured presenter in the second annual IWS conference in November, 2015.
Dina continues to stand-up paddle surf regularly at San Onofre.