MEET OUR BOARD & STAFF

Our team is dedicated to instilling understanding and respect for the indigenous cultures of the southwest.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES & TITLES
Barb Karkula - Vice President, Board of

Barb Karkula
President
Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Ron Robinson - Presdient, Board of Trust

Ron Robinson
Vice President

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Bryan Crossley
Treasurer

Patti Ezell -  Treasurer, Board of Trust

Patti Ezell
Trustee

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Eric Costanios
Trustee
Pacific Islander

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Cliff Hill
Trustee

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Joshua Ballze

Trustee

 Hia-Ced O’odham

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Ruth Lysak

Trustee

MEET THE STAFF

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MANUEL LUCERO IV
Executive Director
Museum of Indigenous People

Manuel has lived and worked in the Prescott area since 2007.  His educational background is in American Indian Studies, and he is a Veteran of the United States Army. He has been involved with the Museum since 2014. His wife Nichole and their 3 Children are involved with the local Native community and participate in Pow-Wow and Gourd Dances throughout the southwest. As well as being involved with the Prescott community at large. Manuel and his family originally moved to Arizona to facilitate his wife’s education.

He and his wife chose Prescott over “The Valley” because they felt a sense of community, one that was safe for their children. Manuel is a Gourd Dancer and a Southern Straight dancer, like his father, brother, and his sons.  He is currently President of the Prescott Powwow Committee, and Vice President of the Granite Mountain Gourd Society.  Manuel believes in the Museum of Indigenous People's mission, and he believes it is never too late to make things right.

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JULIE ELIZABETH RUCKER
Assistant Director
Museum of Indigenous People

From a young age, Julie has had a curiosity about the people of the past. Her interest led her back to the museum in 2010, when she was studying for her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Archaeology at Prescott College. She began as a volunteer and assistant to the curator, later completing several museum internships related to her studies at Northern Arizona University (Geographic Information Systems) and at the University of Oklahoma (Museum Studies).

In 2016, Julie became an employee of the museum as the Volunteer Coordinator. In 2017, shortly after earning her Museum Science Master’s Degree, she was promoted to Administrative Manager. In 2021, she accepted the position of Assistant Director. Her relationship with the museum has deepened her understanding of and respect for the indigenous cultures of the Southwest.

While her administrative role within the management team has expanded, Julie continues to promote a positive environment to ensure that the volunteers are confident and happy in their work, while focusing on the advancement of The Museum of Indigenous People as a vibrant educational institution within the community.

Melanie Bernal
MELANIE BERNAL
Operations Support
Museum of Indigenous People

Melanie studied communication disorders at Cerritos Community College in Cerritos, California, and she held positions working in the fields of speech language pathology and management support. After relocating to Prescott in 2019, she joined the volunteer team at the Museum of Indigenous People, helping with special events. Skilled in communications and secretarial dynamics, she accepted the position of MIP Operations Support Clerk in 2021. As Melanie is of Hia-Ced O’odham heritage, she enjoys the increased interaction with indigenous friends at MIP, while advancing the mission of the museum. 

ANDY CHRISTENSON
Curator
Museum of Indigenous People
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Andy Christenson was trained as an anthropological archaeologist at UCLA and received his Ph. D. in 1981. During graduate school, he worked for the Illinois State Museum and was curator of archaeology at the UCLA Museum of Culture History. In the 1980s, he conducted stone tool analysis for the Black Mesa Archaeological Project at Southern Illinois University and was a visiting scholar at the Arizona State Museum. Since 1987, he has been an archaeological consultant working primarily in central Arizona and in 2012 became curator of the Smoki Museum of American Indian Art & Culture.

He is advisor to the Yavapai Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society and was recipient of the 2013 Professional Archaeologist of the Year from the AAS. He is one of the few American members of EXARC, the international organization of archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology. His research interests are in the prehistory of central Arizona, artifact analysis (stone tools and pottery), and the history of archaeology.

As museum curator, he is responsible for the 3600+ cataloged objects and collections as well as any items on loan to the museum. In addition, he evaluates donations to the museum, organizes an accession committee to evaluate those items, accessions those items deemed to be worthy of permanent acquisition, maintains the computer database that contains the accession records, and finds suitable storage places for the new items. He has been closely involved in preparation of exhibits at the museum, including one on the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, one on the relationships of amateur and professional archaeologists in central Arizona, developed with an associated book, An Essential Relationship: Amateurs and Professionals in Central Arizona Archaeology, and one on the connections of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern U.S.

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LINDA WOLGAMOTT
Accountant
Museum of Indigenous People