cliff trafzer

Dr. Clifford Trafzer

Distinguished Professor of History and Costo Chair in Native American

Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 1973

Research Areas

Native American Social-Cultural History; American West; Oral Traditions; Public History

Contact Information
Department of History
(951) 827-1974

Clifford Trafzer is a Distinguished Professor of History, Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs, and in 2018 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Indian Historians at the Western History Conference. Raised in Arizona, Clifford Trafzer was born to parents of Wyandot Indian and German blood.  He earned a B.A. and M.A. in history at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he also worked as an archivist in Special Collections. In 1973, he earned a Ph.D. in American History with a specialty in American Indian History from Oklahoma State University.  The same year he took a position as Museum Curator with the Arizona Historical Society. Before joining the faculty of UCR in 1991, Trafzer taught American Indian History at Navajo Community College (Diné College), Washington State University, and San Diego State University. He has served as chair of the Departments of American Indian Studies and Ethnic Studies. Four California governors over the course of 22 years appointed Trafzer to serve on the California Native American Heritage Commission. Since 1991 at UC Riverside, he has been Director of American Indian Studies, the California Center for Native Nations, and the Native American Education Program. The National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation, American Philosophical Society, Historical Society of Southern California, Haynes Fund, and American Council of Learned Societies has supported his research. In 2004, Trafzer co-edited Native Universe: Voices of Indian America, the inaugural book published by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to commemorate the opening of museum. Recently, he has published several books, including Fighting Invisible Enemies: Health and Medical Transitions Among Southern California Indians, Shadows of Sherman Institute, American Indian Medicine Ways, A Chemehuevi Song, and Comanche Medicine Man. With Richard Scheuerman, he has published The Snake River-Palouse, River Song: Naxiyamtáma (Snake River-Palouse), and Hardship to Homeland. Trafzer has won the following book awards: Governor’s Award, Penn Oakland, and Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education awarded UCR a grant, Graduate Assistances in Areas of National Need (GAANN), to support graduate students in American Indian Studies. Trafzer is the Principal Investigator.