Cody Hollist Portrait Picture

Melissa Olson

Melissa D. Zephier Olson is a Yankton Sioux tribal member and a descendant of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribe. Currently she is a Doctoral Candidate in Global Family Health and Wellbeing and Ethnic Studies. Melissa has a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a published author and has presented at numerous national/international conferences on minority health disparities, Indigenous studies andbehavioral counseling for culturally diverse populations.  She was selected as an Elouise Cobell Scholar for this academic year.  Her research focus is on Indian boarding schools and their impact on important family relationships and cultural identities.

Summary of Clinical Expertise
Summary of Research Projects

Her dissertation study titled, "An Intergenerational Qualitative Study Exploring Indian boarding Schools and Attachments," has been approved both tribally and through UNL to conduct qualitative interviews with boarding school survivors to explore both positive and negative impacts of the boarding schools.  By taking an intergenerational focus, their children and grandchildren will also be interviewed to explore current family relationships and messages that were learned in these Indigenous families which may have been learned in boarding schools.  This study was graciously funded by the American Philosophical Society through their Phillips Native American Research grant. 

Selected Publications and Presentations

Zephier Olson, M. D., Dombrowski, T. (2020). A literature review of boarding school and attachment in the context of substance use studies of Native Americans. The Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 7(1) 62-71.

Zephier Olson, M.D. (2019, October). Invited to present at the MidAmerica Transportation Center Native American Scholars Program. “Grant-writing Seminar and Collaborative Workhop, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Zephier Olson, M.D., Hollist, C.S., & Tippens, J. (2018, November).  “A qualitative study exploring attachment for Native American adults who attended boarding schools,” Refereed workshop presented at the International Indigenous Research Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.  

Zephier Olson, M.D., Hollist, C.S., & Tippens, J. (2018, October).  “A qualitative study exploring attachment for Native American adults who attended boarding schools,” Poster presented at the 2018 College of Education and Human Sciences Research showcase.  

Zephier Olson, M.D., Hollist, C.S., & Tippens, J. (2018, October).  “A qualitative study exploring attachment for Native American adults who attended boarding schools,” Refereed workshop presented at the first annual conference of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition Conference, Carlisle, PA.  

Zephier Olson, M.D., Hollist, C.S., & Tippens, J.(2018, October). “Let all that is Indian die within you!” A review of policy on impact of Indian Boarding Schools.”  Refereed workshop presented at the annual conference of the American Indigenous Research Association, Polson, MT.  

Zephier Olson, M. D. (2018, February). “Let the Indian die within you!” A mixed methods study exploring attachment for Native Americans who attended Indian boarding schools. Poster presented at the 2018 Mental Health Disparities Initiative Conference, Lincoln, NE.

Zephier Olson, M. D., & Hollist, C. S. (2017, October). A mixed methods study to explore attachment losses for Native Americans who attended Indian boarding schools. Refereed workshop presented at the annual conference of the American Indigenous Research Association, Polson, MT.

Zephier Olson, M. D., & Hollist, C. S. (2017, September). “Let everything that is Indian die within you!” A mixed methods study exploring attachment for Native Americans who attended Indian boarding schools. Refereed poster presented at the National Native Health Research Training Conference, Denver, CO.

Zephier Olson, M. D. (2017, October). Ethnic studies roundtable discussion. Roundtable presentation made at a University of Nebraska–Lincoln Ethnic Studies meeting.

Zephier Olson, M. D. (2016, October). Native American historical trauma: Literature analysis and its implications on family studies. Poster presented at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln Research Showcase, Lincoln, NE.

Zephier, M. D., & Hollist, C. S. (2009, October). What makes the difference when using translators with Latinos in therapy? Implications for practice and training. Refereed poster presented at the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Sacramento, CA. 

Hollist, C. S., Zephier, M. D., Snowdon, A. R., Koch, L. A., & Carranza, M. (2008, October). The ethical dimensions of immigration raids on marriage and family therapy. Refereed poster presented at the annual conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Memphis, TN.

Zephier, M. D., Hollist, C. S., & Rivera, C. (2008, November). The process of engaging Latinos in therapy: A focus on language. Refereed poster presented at the National Council on Family Relations, Little Rock, AR.