Ofelia Zepeda

Regents' Professor: Tohono O'odham Language and Linguistics
Tribal Affiliation
Tohono O’odham Nation of Arizona

Ofelia Zepeda is the author of the only pedagogical textbook on the Tohono O'odham language, A PAPAGO GRAMMAR, a book she wrote as part of the language course she developed some years ago. She is also co-author of the article, "Derived Words in Tohono O'odham", published in the International Journal of American Linguistics.

Her research and publication also extends into more interdisciplinary fields of language study. She is the lead author of the article, "The Condition of Native American Languages in the United States", published in DIOGENE and is co-author of a paper for the book, RESPONSIBILITY AND EVIDENCE IN ORAL DISCOURSE edited by Dr. Jane Hill. The paper is titled, "Mrs. Patricio's Trouble: The Distribution of Responsibility in an Account of Personal Experience". Ofelia also contributed the foreward to the book, A COMMUNITY OF WRITERS, edited by Dr. Yetta Goodman. She has also guest co-edited the journals, The Bilingual Research Journal and the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

Ofelia's teaching includes regular courses on the Tohono O'odham language as well as general undergraduate and graduate courses on the survey of American Indian languages and the structure of the O'odham language. Her teaching like her research and publications is also interdisciplinary. She has taught courses for the American Indian Studies Program, the English Department and the Division of Language, Reading and Culture in the College of Education. Courses there have included a seminar on oral tradition, American Indian literature, and language and culture in education.

Ofelia's research and teaching interests are supported by her involvement in the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI). She is a co-founder of AILDI and is currently a co-coordinator and faculty member in the institute. AILDI is a summer institute offering courses to educators and potential educators working with American Indian communities; as well as educators working with multicultural populations across the United States. The AILDI has been in existence for fourteen years and is currently sponsored by the Division of Language, Reading and Culture; the American Indian Studies Program and the Department of Linguistics.

Finally, Ofelia is a poet, writing in her native language. She is the author of two books of poetry, OCEAN POWER : POEMS FROM THE DESERT, AND JEWED 'I-HOI/EARTH MOVEMENTS. She has edited a volume of poetry, MAT HEKID O JU:/WHEN IT RAINS and co-edited HOME PLACES: CONTEMPORAY NATIVE AMERICAN WRITINGS FROM SUN TRACKS, Ofelia was also a section editor for a collection of Arizona tribal literature, THE SOUTH CORNER OF TIME. For ten years she served as a member of the literary advisory committee for SUN TRACKS, a Native American literary publication. She is currently the series editor of SUN TRACKS.


  • PhD