Michael Yellow Bird, Ph.D

Friday Speaker

Michael Yellow Bird is a Professor of Sociology and the Director of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Studies at North Dakota State University. He is an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes from North Dakota. His academic work and research focus on Indigenous Peoples; the effects of genetic and epigenetic expression on Indigenous Peoples well-being; the effects of an ancestral lifestyle, including a focus on the Indigenous microbiome, diet, and fasting; the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; decolonizing mindfulness; and the culture and science of neurodecolonization. He has been active in re-introducing the practice of mindfulness to Native American and Indigenous communities around the world, as well as presenting on the neurobiology of traditional Indigenous contemplative practices. He has been invited to present and give keynotes at numerous mindfulness conferences, both live and online and has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for over 40 years.

In 1975, Michael’s introduction to mindfulness and meditation was by way of his first Tae Kwon Do teacher, Master Sonil Choi. Master Choi emphasized strict discipline of mind and body and that the way of practice, life, and the warrior depended upon mushin (“a mind unconscious of itself that is not disturbed by effects of any kind”). Dr. Yellow Bird was a Tae Kwon Do practitioner and instructor for many years and taught many of his students mushin meditation. Since the 1990s, he has been introducing mindfulness and meditation approaches to his undergraduate and graduate social work students. He has taught mindfulness to veterans, social workers, incarcerated populations, teachers and students, parents, nurses and nursing students, tribal leaders and community members, and tribal college students, faculty, and administrators. He has implemented mindfulness programs, and examined their effects, on Native American students at the Early College of the Redwoods (KRECR) school on the Yurok reservation in Klamath, California and at the Circle of Life Academy (COLA) on White Earth Ojibway reservation in Minnesota. He is one of three individuals being featured in an upcoming documentary called, “Mindfulness in Indian Country.”

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