Buffalo and her Calf near St. Ignatius, Montana -
Professor Emeritus of Ethnography
Phinney Hall, Room 116
University of Idaho
PO Box 441110
Moscow, Idaho 83844-1110
Welcome to my home page. I have provided some information helpful for my
students and anyone who may share in common interests. Feel free to contact me. As I am
periodically updating information and adding new links to this page, please re-visit at
To access my
First DeSmet Graduates - Bachelor's
Degree in Business Management - 1997 - Vicki Abraham, Megan Harding, Brenda Abraham,
John Abraham, and myself
Let me offer a little about who
I am and my professional interests. I came
to the University of Idaho in the Fall of 1998, having received a Ph.D. in Cultural
Anthropology from the University of Colorado in 1979. I taught at Carroll College in
Helena, Montana from 1980 to 1986, and Lewis-Clark State College in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
from 1987 to 1998, where I also served as Director for the college's north Idaho programs.
While with LCSC and working closely with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe that I
was involved in helping establish and coordinate the DeSmet Higher Education Program, a successful college outreach center on the reservation.
On the side, love a little fly fishing in the nearby rivers and lakes, and
While there are many who have contributed to my education and whom I am
so indebted, I
offer sincere appreciation to my primary teachers -- Tom
Yellowtail, Crow elder, who infused spirit into humanity and the world;
Joseph Epes Brown , Scholar of American Indian Religions, who
infused humanity and spirit into scholarship; Deward Walker, Scholar of
American Indian Peoples, who brought scholarship into the service of others; Lawrence Aripa, Coeur'Alene elder,
who brought Coyote's spirit and laughter into
it all; and my "elder brothers and sisters," Alvin
Howe, Cliff SiJohn, Rob
and Rose Moran, and Rayburn and Janet
Beck who have been my indispensable guides throughout the entire
journey. I also wish to thank several of my Coeur d'Alene teachers,
Felix Aripa, Mariane Hurley, and Alfred Nomee, as well as my Nez Perce teachers, Josiah and D'Lisa Pinkham, Vera Sonneck, Ann McCormack,
and Nakia Williamson. Aho!
I have been conducting various collaborative and applied
projects with the Crow (Montana), the Coeur d'Alene (Idaho), the Nez Perce
(Idaho), and the Warm Springs and Wasco Tribes (Oregon). Among our concerns has been the role and the significance of the oral traditions, particularly as
those traditions influence a people's relationships with their
"landscape" and mediate the impact of Euro-American changes. As collaborative
projects, I am also concerned about such ethical issues as developing cultural
property rights and appropriate tribal review processes as part of the research.
For discussion on
some of these issues and examples of my research and activities, see:
The World of the Crow Indians:
As Driftwood Lodges. (University of Oklahoma Press 1987 and paper
- Eye Juggling: Seeing the World Through a Looking Glass and a Glass Pane
(A workbook for clarifying and interpreting values).
Press of America 1994). 1997 2nd Edition e-edition
Stories That Make the
World: Oral Literature of the Indian Peoples of the Inland Northwest as Told
by Lawrence Aripa, Tom Yellowtail and other Elders. (University of
Oklahoma Press 1995 and paper 1999).
Landscape Traveled by Coyote and Crane: The World of the Schitsu'umsh
- Coeur d'Alene Indians, in collaboration with the Schitsu'umsh
(University of Washington Press 2001; 2005).
Nez Perce Tribe Lifelong Learning
Online Module (Nez Perce Tribe 2001).
Coeur d'Alene Tribe Lifelong Learning
Online Module (Coeur d'Alene Tribe 2002).
Confederated Tribes of Warm
Springs Lifelong Learning Online Module (Confederated Tribes of Warm
"Oral Traditions," in
Companion Guide to the
Anthropology of American Indians, Editor, Thomas Biolsi, (Blackwell
all these great stories were told, great stories will come!," co-authored with Tom Yellowtail (Crow) and Cliff SiJohn
(Coeur d’Alene), as presented at the Indigenous
Ways of Knowing International Conference, Lewis and Clark College (2007). This paper chronicles my recent journey with cancer, and the healing that came from
my family and friends in the Indian community. It also appears in
Religion and Healing in Native
America, edited by Suzanne Crawford (Praeger Press 2008).
of Rivers: Idaho Indians," co-authored with Robert McCall, in
Place: Rethinking the Gem State's Past, edited by Adam Sowards.
(University of Washington Press, 2014)
collaborative project between the Schitsu'umsh (Coeur d'Alene Tribe)
and University of Idaho, 2015. This "proof in concept"
project was funded by the USGS, under the purview of the
Northwest Climate Science Center. Among the five
"deliverables," the project demonstrates that there is
value in Indigenous knowledge and practice, in consort with
scientific knowledge, in addressing issues of climate change.
We developed an innovative means to access and
disseminate what the Schitsu'umsh call hnkhwelkhwlnet,
"our ways of life in the world," though the creation of an
interactive 3-D Landscape (using virtual world technology), embedded
with the structure and dynamics of Indigenous storytelling. We
hope that this presentation of the orality-based Indigenous
avoids some of the undermining of meaning that accompanies a
Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer's Journey into Native Oral
Tradition. (Washington State University Press, 2017). This book-length "personal essay"
brings together key lessons I've learned while working with
Tribal elders and their communities over the last 40-plus years.
It is a reflection on both my professional and personal journey,
each interwoven with the other, each interwoven with the power
of story, storytelling and empathy.
Examples of a few of my recent guest lectures:
Goes Up River (which includes one of my all-time favorite stories),
and Intro to the Indigenous. Wheel
Awards and Honors:
- Humanities Fellow, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences,
University of Idaho 2002-03 - "Sense of Place"
- Dr. Martin Luther King Distinguished Service Award,
University of Idaho 2003
- Research Excellence Award, University of Idaho 2005
- UNITY Service Medallion, UNITY Student Organization and
Office of Multicultural Affairs, University of Idaho 2006
- Distinguished Humanities Professorship Award, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, University of
Idaho 2011-12 - resulting in
Turning of the Wheel: the Interplay between the
Unique and Universal - a Humanities Exploration," a series of
year-long events, talks, performances and exhibits, thirty-two
in total, by University of Idaho faculty and graduate students.
- Teaching Excellence Award, University of Idaho 2012
Evans Handcart Book Award, for
Carry Forth the Stories 2018
Upon re-telling the last of a series of his most cherished stories from the Buffalo
Days (which appear in Stories That Make the
World), Tom Yellowtail turned to me and shared the following words that have resonated
with me ever since.
"If all these great stories were told,
great stories will come!"
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