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Department of American Studies College of Arts and Sciences

Laura Scheiber « Committee on NAIS

Picture of Laura Scheiber

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Director, William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Laboratory
Director, American Indian Studies Research Institute

Office: Student Building 030
Phone: (812) 855-6755
E-mail: scheiber at


I joined the faculty of the Indiana University Department of Anthropology in 2002, as a specialist in Plains archaeology and zooarchaeology.  In my research, I address long-term social dynamics on the North American Plains by considering culture contact and colonialism, household production, and micro-scale daily activities. My specialty is the identification and analysis of large mammal bones, particularly bison. I emphasize processes of production, transportation, processing, cooking, and discard.

As director of the William R. Adams Zooarchaeology Laboratory, which houses a large collection of modern animal bones used by archaeologists to study the relationships between people and animals in the past, I combine research, education, and outreach. For instance, I co-direct an archaeological research project “Exploring Social and Historical Landscapes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.” This project consists of two spatially separate locations around the Bighorn Basin of northern Wyoming and southern Montana, one adjacent to the Crow Indian Reservation on the western slope of the Bighorn Mountains and the other in the Shoshone homeland of the Absaroka Mountains. This is collaborative research with Northwest College (Powell, Wyoming), St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, Montana), Little Big Horn College (Crow Agency, Montana), the University of Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee), the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. We are considering the ways that Native American inhabitants of the Rocky Mountains crafted social identities, manipulated material culture, and situated themselves within broader social and natural landscapes. As part of this research program, I teach an archaeology field school in Wyoming and Montana every summer (  I also teach courses on North American archaeology, zooarchaeology, Native American subsistence, culture contact and colonialism, and archaeological fiction.

In 2006 I was selected as the recipient of the Society for American Archaeology-Amerind Foundation Award based on my co-organized symposium “Across the Great Divide: Change and Continuity in Native North America, 1600-1900.” In our introductory chapter, my co-author Mark Mitchell and I write, “If archaeologists are to bridge the artificial divide separating history from prehistory, they must overturn a whole range of colonial ideas about American Indians and American Indian history. While acknowledging the responsibility anthropologists and archaeologists bear for preserving and promoting colonialist narratives, the contributors to this book nevertheless believe that empirical archaeological research can help replace the false dichotomy between evolution and stasis with more nuanced, multilinear models of change.” 

My recent work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Western National Parks Association, the IU Office of the Vice Provost and Lilly Endowment, IU’s NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and Cooperative Studies Ecosystems Unit (CESU) Programs. I am a former member of the Board of Directors of the Plains Anthropological Society and continue to chair the annual student paper competition at the Plains Anthropological Conference every year. We encourage students and faculty members to become members of the organization!

Relevant Courses

  • ANTH A410/P600: Culture Contact and Colonialism
  • ANTH P363/P663: North American Prehistory through Fiction
  • ANTH P406: Archaeological Laboratory Methods
  • ANTH P360: North Americas Archaeology
  • ANTH P405: Fieldwork in Archaeology
  • COLL E104: People and Animals

Publication Highlights

2008. Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. With Bonnie J. Clark, co-editor.

2008. Intersecting Landscapes in Northeastern Colorado: A Case Study from the Donovan Site. In Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains, ed. Laura L. Scheiber and Bonnie J. Clark, 17-40. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.

2008. A Sloping Land: An Introduction to Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains. In Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains, ed. Laura L. Scheiber and Bonnie J. Clark, 1-16. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. With Bonnie J. Clark.

2008. Life and Death on the Northwestern Plains: Mortuary Practices and Cultural Transformations. In Skeletal Biology and Bioarchaeology of the Northwestern Plains, ed. George W. Gill and Rick L. Weathermon, 22-41. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

2008. Bad Pass Archaeology. American Surveyor 5/4:12-23. With Judson Byrd Finley and Maureen P. Boyle.

2007. The Economy of Bison Exploitation on the Late Prehistoric North American High Plains. Journal of Field Archaeology 32/3:297–313.

2007. The Donovan Site (5LO204): An Upper Republican Animal Processing Camp on the High Plains. Plains Anthropologist 52/203:337-64. With Charles A. Reher.

2006. Skeletal Biology: Plains. In Handbook of North American Indians: Environment, Population, and Origins, Volume 3, ed. Douglas Ubelaker, 595-609. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.

2006. The Late Prehistoric on the High Plains of Western Kansas. In Kansas Archeology, ed. Robert J. Hoard and William E. Banks, 133-50. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

2005. Late Prehistoric Bison Hide Production and Hunter-Gatherer Identities on the North American Plains. In Gender and Hide Production, ed. Lisa Frink and Kathryn Weedman, 57-75. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. In Gender and Archaeology Series, ed. Sarah M. Nelson.