WHY GO BACK TO SCHOOL AT 40?

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I pretty much always knew that I would someday get around to doing studies in anthropology. And I admit to taking my sweet time getting there, since it took me almost 20 years to get around to college. Life often intrudes gloriously on the best of intentions. Once I finally committed myself to the idea, however, I never stopped. So, here I am.

My first experience in archaeology was on the Calico dig in 1967, where I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Louis B. Leakey, who had decided to try to find physical evidence of very early man in an alluvial deposit in the Mojave desert, near Yermo, California. My then fiancee, and later husband, who was a salvage anthropologist for the State of California, and who had been sidelined as an officer in the US Army at Ft. Irwin, encouraged me to sign on as a shovel hand so I could learn what it would be like being married to an archaeologist by gaining some hands-on field experience. It was a thrill to live in the middle of the desert with folks who knew how to work hard--and laugh hard. The experience was worth the pitiful pay and long hours. There was nothing I would have rather have been doing.

The twists and turns of life found me in Wyoming, where I was brought back to anthropology by Bill Tallbull, a Northern Cheyenne historian and elder, who suggested that I become involved in their fight to stop logging on Medicine Mountain. Since I soon realized that knowledge is power when dealing with federal bureaucracies, I was both inspired and determined to return to school in order to back up my passion with facts. That led me to a tentative first step into academe, earning an A.A. in Modern Languages from at Sheridan College. Major influences and mentors who delighted and encouraged me were Mercedes Batty (Spanish), Dr. Pat Hamilton (anthropology), Dr. Osea Nelson (literature).

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The Bighorn Medicine Wheel.
This is the piece of land that inspired me to become an anthropologist

I decided to go for it. I entered the Ada Comstock Scholars Program at Smith College in 1988 to continue work toward the A.B. in Anthropology. The experience of liberal arts education changed me in fundamental ways by opening up possibilities that I had never before considered. My mentors in cultural anthropology there were Dr. Arturo Escobar (development and economic anthropology); Dr.Frederique Marglin (gender and performance); Dr. Donald Joralemon (medical anthroplogy); Dr. Richard Reed (cultural ecology); Dr. Triloki Madan (British social theory and religion); and Dr.John Bettlyon (archaeology and Native American religions). Dr. Neal Salisbury in the History Department introduced me to the field of ethnohistory and was generous and patient with my blunders while I served as his research assistant. In addition, Eleanor Rothman, Director of the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, became a significant role model for all the "Adas," by continually directing us to accept our roles as women in society by identifying and developing our potential. Dr. Peter d'Errico at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst introduced me to Ameican Indian law and allowed me to serve as his teaching assistant the following semester.

I entered Indiana University's graduate program in Anthropology in 1991, choosing the program because of Dr. Raymond J. DeMallie, with whom I wanted to work. Since I had hoped to be useful in the Medicine Wheel/ U.S. Forest Service negotiations, Dr. DeMallie seemed the best of all choices. His work on Lakhota and other Plains Indians peoples reflects careful thoughtfulness, and his ethnohistorical perspective adds much to the field of American Indian Studies.

The fellowship among graduate students working at Dr. DeMallie's American Indian Studies Research Institute was amazing. We have formed ties that will last a lifetime, and enjoy catching up on each other's research at professional conferences. Our kinship is reflected in our work. Dr. DeMallie is the focal point around whom our family (which has become much dearer than the anthropological term "fictive" implies) revolves.

Others on my dissertation committee included Dr. Carol Greenhouse (legal anthropology) who is an undefatigable optimist and brilliant scholar who is generous with her time, having abundant patience. She thoroughly enjoys creating professional opportunities for her students, whom she consistantly treats as colleagues.  I learned theories of race and ethnicity from Dr. Anya Peterson Royce, who was also a powerful mentor for women. Dr. R. David Edmunds, the outside member of the committee, sharpened my understanding of ethnohistory by providing an historian's perspective. Although there is some sibling rivalry between the sister diciplines (Anthropology and History) that have come together as ethnohistorians, we recognize the strength of good scholarship that comes from our collaborations.

Other major influences that may explain my far-flung interests and, as Dr. DeMallie has characterized it, my "theoretically eclectic" style were Dr. Douglas R. Parks (anthropological linguistics); Dr. Michael Jackson (ethnographic writing); Dr. Richard Wilk (economic anthropology and development); Dr. Emilio Moran (cultural ecology); Dr. David Williams (Constitutional law, American Indian law); Dr. Bonnie Kendall and Dr. Paul Jameson (taught me to teach undergraduates). Also, my experience paticipating in a year long seminar as a MacArthur Scholar at the Indiana Center for Global Change and World Peace brought into sharper focus the role of an anthropological perspective in interdisciplinary and international policy negotiations.

Some of my intellectual ancestors include Clifford Geertz, Sol Tax, Ray Fogelson, Fred Eggan, David Schneider, but more on their influence a little later in my web career! Next semester's classes are looming on the horizon...

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Professor Clifford Geertz received the prestigious "On the Shoulders of Our Ancestors: It's Turtles All the Way Down Award" at the American Indian Studies Research Institute in April, 1998.

 

These photos from the field will be moved around, elaborated upon, and added to...

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Rick Laurent, Big Horn National Forest, Sheridan, Wyoming. Rick has offered to run a field program for a couple of students who would like some CRM experience in pedestrian survey techniques and identifying, sampling, and analyzing potential archaeological sites. This is a great opportunity, folks!

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These photos illustrate some of the terrain that we surveyed in northern Wyoming while I interned for the Bighorn National Forest during the summer of 1989. Great location, lots of work, and the challenges of high altitude breathing are always interesting!

Two who have gone before...

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         Bill Tallbull, Northern Cheyenne elder,              Grace Whitehorse, Lakota quilter,

          historian, advisor, uncle, and friend.                           advisor, and friend.

 

Martin, SD, 1995 - 1997

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           Powwow kids                                                          Mid-afternoon dust storm on Main St.

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     LaCreek Land...glorious!                               What do you do about grandkids? Go ask Alice!

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Proud mom with son Jeff

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C'ante Waste Win (Good Hearted Woman in Lakhota)...at rest, but still in control

 

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C'ante Waste Win and her pal Lucy. Models of cooperation and respect.

 

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