OCCRL Staff and Affiliates

Oliver Tapaha

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership at Illinois

Dr. Oliver Tapaha is a citizen of the Diné/Navajo Nation from northeastern Arizona. His maternal clan is Naakai Diné’e (the Mexican People Clan), and his paternal clan is Hónágháahnii (The-One-Who-Walks Around Clan). Dr. Tapaha assists OCCRL by providing insights about tribal colleges and universities and tribal institutional review boards.

Dr. Tapaha has over 12 years of K-12 teaching experience in a locally controlled tribal school and two public school districts on the Navajo reservation. He also held director-level positions in student affairs and academic affairs at Diné College, and served on the President’s Executive Team and the Provost’s Council. Additionally, Tapaha served a four-year term as a governing council member for Six Directions Indigenous School in Gallup, N.M. During the last two years he was an elementary school principal in his home community.


  • Ph.D., Education, Oregon State University
  • Ed.M., Education, Oregon State University
  • M.A., School Administration, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • B.A., Sociology, Elementary Education, Arizona State University