The Urgent Need for Anticolonial Media Literacy




media literacy, critical race theory, anticolonial, settler colonialism


In this article, we advocate for anticolonial media literacy as an important complement to critical race media literacy. Given the pervasive misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in media, teachers must explicitly learn to challenge colonizing and dehumanizing representations of Indigenous life and help their students to do the same. By outlining several Native studies theories, we forward anticolonial media literacy to help teachers detect and interrupt colonial logics. After modeling anticolonial medial literacy in practice, we draw from Nambé Pueblo scholar Debbie Reese’s framework of “critical Indigenous literacies” to support teachers in including and creating respectful alternatives.

Author Biographies

Ashley Cordes, University of Utah

Ashley Cordes is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Communication at the University of Utah in the Department of Communication. Her research lies at the intersections of digital media and Indigenous studies. Some of her work can be found in Feminist Media Studies, Television & New Media and in Nuu-wee-ya Naa-‘a, an Athabaskan language book. She serves as Chair of the Culture and Education Committee of the Coquille Nation.

Leilani Sabzalian, University of Oregon

Dr. Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsik'wa?á Teacher Education Program at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on creating spaces to support Indigenous students and Indigenous self-determination in public schools, and preparing teachers to challenge colonialism in curriculum, policy, and practice. She is also dedicated to improving Indigenous education at in the state of Oregon by serving on the American Indian/Alaska Native State Advisory Council and strongly advocating for legislation such as Senate Bill 13, which requires and supports educators in teaching about tribal history and sovereignty in K-12 public schools.




How to Cite

Cordes, A., & Sabzalian, L. (2020). The Urgent Need for Anticolonial Media Literacy. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 22(2), 182–201.



2020 Special Issue (Peer-Reviewed)