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About me

I am a cultural anthropologist whose areas of specialization include Native American studies, multicultural and women's studies, folklore/oral history/life history, field methods in cultural anthropology, religion, and cultural interpretation. Currently I am working with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service (Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado National Monument) to integrate Ute perspectives into the cultural interpretation of these government agencies' lands.

I have worked with Native peoples in Oklahoma, North Dakota, Minnesota, Vermont, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah.

Pilgrimage and Sacred Sites in the Plains

For the last 7 years, I have been researching pilgrimage and sacred sites in the Plains area. The purpose of this research is to examine and analyze the ways that humans understand manifestations of the sacred in landscape and place. The focus of this research project is to personalize the topic by asking pilgrims and visitors (Native and non-Native) to selected sacred sites in the Northern Plains what has brought them to these places. I have made numerous visits to Devils Tower (WY), the Bighorn Medicine Wheel (WY), Sand Creek Massacre Site (CO), Bear Butte (SD), and the Wounded Knee Massacre Site (SD). Writing is ongoing.

sacred sitedevils tower

medicine wheelsacred site

Ute Bear Dance

Based on years of fieldwork with the Ute and attendance at numerous spring Bear Dances, my forthcoming article will focus on the 21st century Northern Ute Bear Dance. A uniquely Ute spring social dance, the Bear Dance has seen little change in the past 200-plus years. Based on a mythical encounter between a she-bear and a male hunter, the Bear Dance includes music, dance, story-telling, joking, courting, and gambling. The Ute say they have been Bear Dancing for millennia—the dance may well be over 1000 years old. For the Nuche [Ute], dance is believed to have power that is critical to the continuation of Ute culture. It is a socially integrating force that connects Utes with their traditions, their land, their past, their heritage. The Bear Dance is a celebration of survival and as such is a mnemonic of tradition, history, and cosmology.

Bear Dance

Ute Ethnobotany Project

irisFrom 2005-2012 I had the opportunity to work with Northern Ute women on an Ethnobotany project.  The examination of the collaboration between anthropologists and tribal members concerning traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is an important, and arguably seminal, contribution to a growing focus within applied anthropology. I worked collaboratively on the writing of the linked article with Betsy Chapoose (Northern Ute).  This  important discussion of participatory research through collaboration between anthropologists and tribal members relates to Northern Ute traditional ecological knowledge. Through a discussion of five different ethnobotanical projects we seek to explore, document, and revive Ute traditional ecological knowledge in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado. This work contributes to a larger focus of applied anthropology in collaborative resource management and participatory research which continues to push the discipline ahead. Click here to view the article.


Ethnographic Overview of Colorado National Monument

Colorado National MonumentIn 2011 I completed a five-year project with the Ute and the National Park Service. The final product was an Ethnographic Overview of Colorado National Monument, located in Grand Junction, Colorado. The approach was a collaborative one with the Northern Ute Tribe and is titled: "Talking About a Sacredness: an Ethnographic Overview of Colorado National Monument." Download the full PDF here.



Semester at Sea

In the fall of 2006 I went around the world on a ship--the experience changed my life. Below: Giza Pyramids (Egypt), Angkor Wat (Cambodia), and Burma (aka Myanmar).

angkor watpyramidrecl buddha