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Joseph Gazing Wolf

Joseph Gazing Wolf

Doctoral Research Fellow, Global Locust Initiative, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874501
Tempe, AZ 8528-4501


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Future Laboratory
  • Doctoral Research Fellow, Global Locust Initiative, Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation
  • PhD Student, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Joseph Gazing Wolf is a relative of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Black Seminoles with mixed-race Amazigh/Nubian heritage. His life’s work is located at the interface of Indigenous lifeways and colonial cultures. His scholarship and activism are framed by a vision of existential dignity for all, with focused efforts towards a dignified existence for Indigenous communities globally and across all sectors of society.

Wolf’s early journey from landless poverty and starvation revealed the vast land-based indignities that Indigenous peoples have endured under colonial rule. His later experiences as a tribal shepherd in the African savanna, a buffalo range rider in the Great Plains, and an organic farmer in California taught him the centrality of place-based, community-led biocultural restoration and food sovereignty to the well-being of Indigenous communities. Finally, his experiences as a scholar in the western academy illuminated the need for Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledges as a remedy for the lack of wisdom, ethics, and spiritual maturity in the western approach to the study of the natural world.

Wolf’s activism flows out of his experiences working with marginalized and oppressed communities across the globe. He has worked with Indigenous communities in Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Thailand, Egypt, Mexico, throughout the great plains of the U.S. and with Black and Indigenous urban youth (with continued openness to global community partners). He partners with Indigenous communities and allies to implement place-based approaches that further the cause of dignity for all, with a general focus on democratic sovereignty, health and safety, food systems, ecologies, and education. In particular, his work in underserved communities has focused on environmental justice, hunger, homelessness, violence against women and children, animal abuse, equity in education, and biocultural restoration, including the rematriation of bison and wolves. Wolf has been directly involved in community-led activism to stop environmental degradation in his home community of Standing Rock and has engaged in revolutionary activities to overthrow tyrannical governments such as that in Egypt, his other homeland.

In one line of research, Wolf works within the policy sciences to devise a pragmatic approach for claims to human dignity by Indigenous communities living under colonial rule. In a similar line of research, he investigates the impact of land fragmentation, fractionation, and quality on the reclamation of a sustainable buffalo economy in Indian Country. He partners with Tribal entities that have reintroduced buffalo herds in order to elucidate the successes and challenges they have encountered and how this impacts Tribal sovereignty, food security, economic development, biocultural diversity, ecosystem health, and climate adaptation. In a purely ecological line of research, Wolf focuses on the conservation, restoration, and management of native species in prairie ecosystems, including bison and prairie dogs, among others. Finally, Wolf’s research in education is located at the interface of Indigenous Knowledges (IKs), Traditional Ecological Knowledges (TEKs), and Indigenous values and identities on the one hand, and colonial knowledge systems and western institutional values on the other. Specifically, he studies the structural and cultural barriers that Indigenous students/faculty experience in STEM education and research, with a focus on the predictors of persistence, success, and belongingness, as well as the stigmatization of IKs, TEKs, and Indigenous identities.

Wolf’s research is founded on a strong appreciation for collaborative, community-driven, interdisciplinary research that is a synthesis at the interface of IKs, social and ecological sciences, history, policy, anthropology, philosophy, language, and the arts. He utilizes public data and tools (NEON, EREN, EDDIE, LTER, USDA NASS, US Census, LandPKS, NASA EarthData, QGIS, ISRIC, etc.), stakeholder interviews and surveys, community-engaged science, field observations, field/greenhouse/lab experiments, modeling techniques, and emersion in traditional cultures and livelihoods. His work has been funded by the NSF, USDA, USAID, AISES, INFAS, ASU, ESA, TBGPEA, Tribal governments and organizations, rancher/farmer organizations, and many other gracious supporters and collaborators.

Overall, Wolf’s primary goal as a scholar/activist is to fortify existential place-based dignity in underserved communities by rectifying the values embodied in collective freedom, sovereignty, safety, food security, ecological health, sustainable livelihoods, education, and traditional arts and culture, towards a vision of mental, physical, and ecological well-being for all.