Oki Nitsiitapi Nidaniko Natoyiipoka, Nistoo Amskapipikuniaki and Métis.
Celina is Blackfeet & Métis, although she grew up as part of the Coast Salish, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal community in Washington State. She calls the Pacific Northwest home. Celina’s scholarly motivation is grounded in her family; being a mother of 4, it’s important for her to model relational responsibility to natural resources grounded in cultural knowledge like it was provided to her by her father and others through communal ties.
Celina has a passion for tribal food sovereignty and environmental health and wildlife science and policy and for increasing diversity and inclusion in the field of wildlife biology and conservation. She completed a bachelor’s in wildlife & fisheries biology at Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. During her undergrad she was lucky enough to complete an REU involving wildlife and cultural resource monitoring via Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) and another centering toxicology lab methods and genetic profiling of traditional fisheries as a mechanism for indigenous food sovereignty and collaborative environmental health research. Celina is also a Udall scholar, a Native Science Fellow, an American Indian College Fund Ambassador, and a former Northwest Representative of the National Student Congress for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
Currently, Ms. Gray is completing a graduate thesis documenting wildlife management perspectives of cultural keystone species for the Blackfoot Confederacy in the Human Dimensions Lab under Libby Metcalf within UM’s Wildlife Biology Graduate Program. Since attending UM, she has received a Sloan Indigenous Graduate Research Fellowship, a Dennis and Phyllis Washington Native Graduate Fellowship and Northwest CASC Fellowship, completed the USFWS Directorate Fellows program and gives back to her funding agency, Native Forward, through the Rising Native Graduate Peer Mentor program. Celina also volunteers time as the Chair-Elect for the Native People’s Wildlife Management Working Group of The Wildlife Society and as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for The Wildlife Professional, advancing equitable publishing practices. Finally, Celina works as an intern focusing on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) monitoring in Blackfeet Territory with Working Dogs for Conservation in partnership with Indigenous Vision, an educational nonprofit that works to monitor & map environmental and social injustices impacting the culture and health of indigenous people.
Celina envisions a future career where her passions are realized in service to tribal communities and especially for Native American youth interested in science. Right now, she is content toting one or all of her little ones around while doing science.
The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation has created the only Native American Graduate Scholarship at Montana State University and the University of Montana. Learn More…