Indiana University

New at AISRI

bead design


Reports from the Field: Lessons and Challenges of Contemporary Anthropological Fieldwork
A Round Table Series at the American Indian Studies Research Institute

This series of round table talks features conversations with contemporary fieldworkers of anthropology and related disciplines with an emphasis on the Americas. Anthropologists from all sub-fields have long histories and traditions of what constitutes fieldwork. However, the nature of “being in the field” has changed in the last decade. Fieldworkers are re-examining their own positionality, a process that may be unsettling while also offering the promise of a renewed relevance of Anthropology.

This series is interested in the practical side of fieldwork in Anthropology that is useful to the needs, agendas, and self-perceptions of indigenous and local communities, while producing work that contributes to anthropological research and theory. Of particular interest is innovations in methodology, ethical issues, emergent forms of collaborations, and more generally testimonies of lessons and challenges from well-meaning practices of inclusive fieldwork.


Reclaiming a culture: How IU is helping an indigenous community restore its endangered language

The Nakóda Language Project at the American Indian Studies Research Institute was featured recently at IU News.
Click for more details.

MARCH 2019

Taking the Long Way Around
Anya Peterson Royce
Thursday, March 7, 2019
4:00-5:00 pm

My first ethnographic field research was in 1967 when I was an undergraduate anthropology major examining changes in dance in Mexico from pueblo to the big stage at Bellas Artes. That began my long-term field research in Juchitán, Oaxaca, research now in its sixth decade. I have spent shorter periods of field research in Poland, Italy, France and Ireland. I have been teaching and mentoring students almost as long. The quality and honesty of material that you learn and record in the field matters but equally important are the ways in which you discover, understand, and present it. This whole process leads you on journeys of reflection and transformation that often mean taking the long way around. The world does not always reward what it might see as dead ends, snail-like progress, and lack of certainty. [I take heart from Wittgenstein’s warning about drawing hard lines around inherently fuzzy concepts.] But this open-ended path of infinite possibilities signals the kind of learning that brings new knowledge and understanding. Ethnographers experience many things but perhaps one of the most difficult is what happens when a disaster strikes the place that has become another home. This was the case for me when the 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck Juchitán. I will share their and my responses.

Anya Peterson Royce received her B.A. in Anthropology and Honors in Humanities, Stanford University; her M.A. in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1971; and her Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, in 1974. She also has a D.Litt from the University of Limerick, 2010. She is the Chancellor's Professor of anthropology and comparative literature, and holds adjunct appointments in folklore and ethnomusicology, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and the Russian and East European Institute. She also directs the Performing Arts Archive and Laboratory. Royce has served as Dean of the Faculties (1983-1993), and as academic advisor to the President (1988-1993) and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (1990-1993) at Indiana University.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series


Bioarchaeology of Oaxaca: An Approach to Zapotec Cultural Heritage
Ricardo Higelin Ponce de León
Thursday, February 7, 2019
3:00-4:00 pm

The aim of this presentation is to show how applying different methods in anthropology, such as oral histories and documenting ancient human remains, make it possible to extend the history of Zapotec people, an indigenous society from Oaxaca, southern Mexico. Furthermore, working and collaborating alongside with local communities, enrich and contribute to the broader indigenous history to current Mexican society.

Ricardo Higelin Ponce de León is a graduate student in the Anthropology Department and the 2018-2019 Graduate Fellow at the American Indian Studied Research Institute. He received his Bachelor in Art’s degree in Physical Anthropology at Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (ENAH), Mexico in 2010 and his Master of Arts degree in Biological Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) in 2012. His dissertation field research, Engaging Descendant Communities with the Ancient Past: Zapotec Cultural Heritage from Oaxaca, Southern Mexico, was conducted over 15 months in 2016-2017, with support from the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs of Indiana University and the Fellowship IU-Exchange Graduate Program at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Preliminary results were presenting at the Mexican Association of Biological Anthropology at Morelia, Michoacán, in October 2017. He also participated at the 10th Conference of Children in the Past organized by the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past at the Templo Mayor, México City, in November 2017. Currently, Higelin Ponce de León is co-director of the Bioarchaeology of Oaxaca Project (BoP), with contributions published in the Journal of Archaeological Sciences: Reports in June 2017. Additional articles will be submitted in Spanish for the journal Anales de Antropologia, UNAM in 2020. Higelin was also the co-PI of the project “Microevolutionary History through Ancient DNA: Ancestral Zapotec Population Movement in the Tlacolula Valley” through UNAM, México.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series


The Ethnography of Archaeological Fieldwork
Laura Scheiber
Thursday, December 6, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm

Contemporary anthropological fieldwork in North America incorporates multiple voices, communities, and disciplines. As an archaeologist who has conducted summer field research for nearly thirty years, I have witnessed numerous changes in practice, scope, and collaboration through the years. Archaeological research is team research. We work with local communities, but we also form temporary residential communities for months at a time. Like ethnographers, being “in the field” immerses the primary investigator in unfamiliar cultural and geographic surroundings. Unlike ethnographers, these individuals simultaneously are responsible for a cast of assistants and students and families also experiencing the isolation of being away from home while living with strangers. We thus often find ourselves working in a mini-field within the field. In this presentation, I will summarize several case studies that highlight my experiences, lessons, and challenges in directing fieldwork in contemporary archaeology.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series


Lakota Language Project at Red Cloud Indian School
Melissa Strickland
Thursday, November 15, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm

Red Cloud Indian School, a private school on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, developed the first comprehensive K-12 Lakota textbook curriculum in conjunction with the American Indian Studies Research Institute (AISRI) at Indiana University from 2008-2014 as part of the Lakota Language Project (LLP). The curriculum is designed to teach students to speak, read, and write Lakota and to gain basic fluency in the Lakota language; the project strives to create language proficiency in all students by the time they graduate and cultivate a deep appreciation and understanding of Lakota history and traditions. This project is a contribution to the Lakota language community, and it is our way of adding to the many efforts of language revitalization and sustainability. Now in the second phase of its development, the project not only continues to support language instruction at every grade level, but it also serves to help integrate the language across all content areas at RCIS and in the community. I will highlight our successes and best practices, address issues and shortcomings, and speak to our goals for the future.

Melissa Strickland began working on the Lakota Language Project (LLP) as the Site Coordinator & Teaching Assistant in 2012 while a graduate student at Indiana University (MA Folklore, 2014). She currently serves as the LLP's Project Coordinator and remotely oversees the daily operations of its staff. Melissa continues to act as a consultant for current AISRI language projects, working from the Institute one to two days a week. She remains active in the Pine Ridge community and help coordinate the annual Lakota language summer camp (

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series

Anthropological description and activism on the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Reservation (2017-2018)
Thierry Veyrié, PhD candidate
Thursday, November 1, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm

This presentation on my 13-month anthropological fieldwork (NSF-DEL) in the Northern Paiute community of McDermitt (NV) will address crucial issues of community-based ethnographic research practices in the United States. What is the value for a native community of having an anthropologist conducting research amongst them? Answering this question, and developing the assumption that anthropologists are not necessary for native communities but can be useful, I will retrospectively explore the pitfalls and successes of my fieldwork experience. While we may not be able to make the entirety of our documentary efforts seen as useful by community members, it is essential that, overall, the work of the anthropologist be apprehended in their own terms by the native community. More generally, I see anthropological description and cultural activism as inseparable in contemporary anthropological fieldwork.

Thierry Veyrié is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department at Indiana University. He received a Licence of Philosophy and Licence of History from the Sorbonne, Paris IV in 2011 and a Master degree in Ethnology and Social Anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales (EHESS) in Paris in 2014. His research focuses on the representation of the body in the Northern Paiute oral tradition. He identifies emic and meaningful actions in a system of representation by articulating subsistence practices, rituals and myths. He returned to Bloomington recently from a year of field work, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the American Philosophical Society.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series


From “Subjective I’s” to “Self-Evident I-deologies” in Ethnographic Fieldwork: An Example and Implications from Language Research among the Oglala Lakota
Richard Henne-Ochoa, PhD
Thursday, October 4, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm

I address a problem that demands the attention of social science researchers conducting ethnographic fieldwork: the unnoticed presence of ideologies in the conduct of inquiry. Building upon Peshkin’s work on the role of subjectivity and his model of self-reflexivity in qualitative research, I examine how ubiquitous ideologies (naturalized, taken-for-granted, common sense notions) of language affected my research topic and methodology in profound ways while conducting fieldwork on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. I draw implications from this example to the pervasive problem of discovering “self-evident I-deologies” in fieldwork research.

Dr. Henne-Ochoa received his PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2003. His dissertation was entitled Tongue-tied: Sociocultural change, language, and language ideology among the Oglala Lakota (Pine Ridge Sioux). He is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to this, he was an Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA. He recently moved to Bloomington where he is finishing several publications based on recent fieldwork at Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series


Collaborative Language Projects in the Pueblos and Plains
Logan Sutton, PhD
Thursday, September 20, 2018
3:00-4:00 pm

Dr. Logan Sutton is a linguistic researcher specializing in the Kiowa-Tanoan and Caddoan language families, Native American linguistics, language documentation and revitalization, historical linguistics, and linguistic typology. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of New Mexico in 2014, with a B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University, also in linguistics. His dissertation represents a comparative-historical research program of the Kiowa-Tanoan languages. He is presently developing a comparable program for Caddoan languages.

Sutton is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology. He has been a researcher at the American Indian Studies Research Institute (AISRI) since 2005, analyzing Caddoan texts and compiling and editing dictionaries of Arikara and Pawnee. Since 2006, he has also collaborated with tribal members on the Nanbé Tewa Language Program at Nambé Pueblo, New Mexico, in the development of a Tewa dictionary and pedagogical materials for community language classes. While in New Mexico, he has assisted various projects and programs among several other Pueblos, including Pojoaque, Tesuque, Jemez, Picuris, Taos, Sandia, Ysleta del Sur, Acoma, and Laguna.

With AISRI, he has contributed to projects with the Pawnee of Oklahoma and the Arikara of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, North Dakota. He served as a language dialogue coach for the movie The Revenant in 2015. Since 2017, he has collaborated with White Shield School, the Arikara Cultural Center, and the Arikara Community Action Group in White Shield, North Dakota, in developing Arikara language courses and materials and education programming for reservation youth. Sutton is committed to assisting linguistic communities in the preservation, maintenance, and self-determination of their languages and cultures in the face of assimilative pressures from dominant societies.

Part of Reports from the Field Speaker series



12th Annual AGSA Symposium Keynote Speech by Dr. Sebastian Braun
Friday, February 16, 5:00 pm, Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Student Papers and Posters
Saturday, February 17, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Click for more details.



12th Annual AGSA Symposium Keynote Speech by Dr. Sebastian Braun
Friday, February 16, 5:00 pm, Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Student Papers and Posters
Saturday, February 17, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Click for more details.



APRIL 2017

Indiana University 6th Annual Traditional Powwow

Click image for details.

Indiana University is hosting its 6th Annual Traditional Powwow, April 8th, 2017, at Dunn Meadow.

French anthropologist Emmanuel Désveaux will be speaking on "Cultural Significance of Trees in Native Californian Social Organization." Prof. Désveaux will lead the audience on an exploration of an indigenous group with radically different social organization systems and practices than those of the rest of North America, provoking questions about existing assumptions about fundamental human nature. This talk is sponsored by the American Indian Studies Research Institute, the IU Food Institute, and the Native American Graduate Student Association. Please encourage your students and colleagues to attend! Reception to follow. Click here for more information.


We are having an information session to advertise our three field programs for next summer, Wednesday January 18th from 5-6:30 in the Student Building 050.

Click here for more info.


IU First Nations invites you to join us for our Welcome Week Events!


Enthousiasme et Nostalgie: Variations in French intellectual interest in North America
Thursday, October 22, Global and International Studies Building, room 3134.

APRIL 2014

2nd Annual Native American Health and Wellness Community Dance

via Facebook


Indiana University 3rd Annual Traditional Powwow

Click image for details.

Indiana University is hosting its 3rd Annual Traditional Powwow, October 26 & 27, 2013, at Willkie Auditorium. Pictures of event via Facebook

Red Cloud Indian School's 125th Anniversary Celebration

A group from AISRI participated in Red Cloud Indian School's 125 Anniversary on October 18th.
via Red Cloud School


On September 5th, FNECC craft night teaches Native American heritage from IDS news


Native American Health and Wellness Community Dance

Click image for details.


2nd Annual FNECC Powwow

On November 3-4, 2012 The First Nations Educational and Cultural Center will be holding its 2nd Annual Traditional Powwow at Union Street Center, 445 Union St. The powwow will being at 11am Saturday morning, with a community lunch being served at noon. Grand entry will be at 1:30 and 7pm. There will be one grand entry on Sunday at 1:30. The MC is Terry Fiddler from Eagle Butte, SD. Host drums are Brave Heart, from Pine Ridge, SD and Sauk Nation, from Meskwaki, IA and Thaigi, OK. The event is free to the public and all are welcome. Contact FNECC for more information: 812-855-4814 or e-mail

AISRI Group to Present at Ethnohistory

A group from AISRI, including Ray DeMallie, Dave Posthumus, Chris Eells, Indrek Park, and Nicky Belle, will be presenting their research at this year's annual American Society for Ethnohistory meeting in Springfield, MO, November 7-10, 2012. The papers in this session are presented in memory of Melburn Thurman, a long-time participant in the ASE annual meetings, who passed away in spring 2012. His work, much of which is unpublished but shared with colleagues, has long been an inspiration for ethnohistorians He set a standard for meticulous documentary study and rigorous analysis. This panel will attempt to follow where his work has led and to carry it further to new understandings of the Plains.


AISRI Intern Attends Stanford University

Meredith Pelrine, a local high school student who has been volunteering at AISRI for the last year,recently moved to California to attend Stanford University. As a senior at Bloomington North High School, she worked at AISRI after school gathering experience in the field of Linguistics, which is her intended major at Stanford. Her work here included lexicon database maintenance and text translation in both Assiniboine and Lakota.

AISRI Students Construct Arikara Earth Lodge

In September of 2012 an Arikara earthlodge was constructed for the first time in the White Shield community, Fort Berthold, ND. The earthlodge will serve as a powerful symbol for the modern Arikara people and the community of White Shield. This effort will be remembered as a significant event in the history of the Arikara people. Without the sacrifices and commitment of the individuals involved, this historic episode of the Arikara would not have taken place. The Arikara tribal members present were: Jody Ground (Cree), Kuunux Teerit Kroupa, Neetahkas Takaa'aahu Perkins, Whirlwind Bull Perkins, Lee Voigt, and Jasper Young Bear. Also, a well-deserved expression of thanks is owed to the students of the White Shield School for their enthusiastic work in assisting with the willow weaving.


AISRI Director Parks Awarded NEH grant

Doug Parks recently received an NEH grant for his proposed project that deals with American Indian oral history and narrative. It focuses on a large body of previously unpublished works that document the cultures of four major American Indian tribes of the Great Plains: the Pawnee, Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan. What is unique about the documents is that they provide detailed descriptions of those tribes' cultures and languages that were recorded in the late-19th and early-20th centuries in the words of prominent members who lived those cultures or remembered what their parents and grandparents had told them.

Laura Scheiber Adopted at Crow

This summer at Crow Fair, one of North America's largest powwows and Native gatherings, Laura Scheiber was adopted into the Two Leggins family. Laura came to know this family from years of research and fieldwork on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana. During the adoption ceremony, Laura was taken inside a tipi and dressed in a traditional Crow women's elk tooth dress. She was then presented to the family and to the public and given a Crow name which means "One who knows about the past and teaches us about our heritage." She was introduced to everyone by this name and everyone was told that from this point on, Laura is to be considered a full member of their family and will be treated as such. We want to congratulate Laura for being honored in such an important way.

JULY 2012

Melissa Moves to Pine Ridge

Melissa Strickland, a graduate student in Folklore and Anthropology, is moving out to Pine Ridge, SD to be teaching assistant for the Lakota Language Project at Red Cloud Indian School. Melissa's personal research looks at modern oral history and competitive story telling among the Lakota in South Dakota. Her duties at Red Cloud consist of teacher training, materials development, and working with local fluent Lakota speakers and teachers.

MAY 2012

Tasha Attends U.C. Berkeley

Tasha Hauff, a Native American student (Oglala/ Minneconjou) who recently graduated from IU, has been accepted for her graduate work at UC Berkeley and was offered a 5-year fellowship in the Ethnic Studies department. Tasha has been working with AISRI for several years as both a student in the Lakota class and by contributing her vocal talents for multimedia activities for the Red Cloud Lakota Language Project. We will miss Tasha but wish her the best of luck!

Indrek Receives SSILA Award

Indrek Park has just submitted his dissertation titled "A Grammar of Hidatsa,"" and has been awarded a PhD in Linguistics with a minor in Anthropology. In addition, his dissertation was awarded the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) Mary B. Haas Book Award. This award is presented to a junior scholar for an unpublished manuscript that makes a significant substantive contribution to our knowledge of Native American languages, and his dissertation is eligible for publication under the Society's auspices in the University of Nebraska Press series Studies in the Native Languages of the Americas.

View Multimedia Materials