Research Experience

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Dissertation): My actual dissertation fieldwork was conducted June 5, 2009 – December 20, 2010 (18.5 months). During my dissertation field research I conducted interviews with 33 MBCI tribal members and one non-Indian MBCI employee, recording 65 hours of interview audio. While in the field I also worked for the MBCI Cultural Preservation Program as a research and media consultant. This research included formal and informal interviews covering a range of topics, free-listing exercises, participant observation, as well as taking photographs and video recording during various activities and in some interview situations. While working for the tribe I produced a short video project on the importance of rivercane for their cultural public outreach programming called, “Rivercane Restoration: Linking Cultural, Biological, and Economic Values,” (2009) 7 minutes.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Pre-Dissertation): During the summer of 2006 (July 12-15) I began my pre-dissertation research by visiting the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians’ reservation in Choctaw, MS. I attended the Annual Choctaw Indian Fair in order to visit several important areas of the reservation to conduct preliminary field observations, observe the activities of the fair, and tour the tribal resort and manufacturing enterprises. This research was partially funded by the Institute for American Indian Research. I made another pre-dissertation field site visit to Choctaw, MS in the fall of 2007 (Nov. 15-19) to conduct research for a small class project which led to the production of the video, “Stickball: Grandfather of All Sports, Little Brother of War” (2008) 17 minutes. This trip was fully funded by the Institute for American Indian Research. In the summer of 2008 (July 7-13) I again returned to Choctaw, MS to conduct a follow-up visit to my dissertation research area, in order to present my research proposal to the MBCI tribal council and attend the Choctaw Fair. This trip was fully funded by a Specialized Travel Grant from the Graduate and Professional Student Association at UNM as well as a Dissertation Field Site Development grant from the Department of Anthropology at UNM. My final pre-dissertation field site visit was in the spring of 2009 (April 4 – 12) in order to continue preliminary research, begin research on the Annual Choctaw Fair, and make final preparations for my dissertation research. This trip was funded by the Graduate Research Project and Travel Grant from The University of New Mexico Office of Graduate Studies and additional video equipment for my fieldwork was purchased with funding from the Institute for American Indian Research.

New Mexico Flintknappers: I conducted ethnographic field research with the New Mexico Flintknappers, an Albuquerque based flintknapping club, in conjunction with a class at UNM focusing on ethnographic methods. This project led to the production of a short ethnographic video project called “New Mexico Flintknappers: Breakin’ Rock” (2008) 13 minutes.

Friends of Tijeras Pueblo:  I conducted ethnographic field research with the Friends of Tijeras Pueblo, an Albuquerque based non-profit 501(c)(3) public anthropology organization, in conjunction with a class at UNM focusing on ethnography of place. This research led to an ethnographic video project, Making Places with Friends” (2006) 30 minutes, and a written project of the same title.

Native American Economic Development/Gaming:  I conducted library research on Native American economic development and gaming as a part of my dissertation literature review which resulted in the paper, “The Role of American Indian Nations within the American Political System: The fight over sovereignty and Indian Gaming” as well as an extensive annotated bibliography.

Native American Water Rights:  I conducted extensive research into American Indian water rights in conjunction with a class at UNM focusing on contemporary issues in the American Southwest. Based on this research I wrote a paper entitled “Filtering Indian Water: Untangling Indian Water Rights in the American Southwest.”

Navajo/Dine Nation:  During the later part of the 2003 summer I spent two months living and working in Ganado, AZ on the Navajo Nation. I was working as an intern, at the J. L. Hubbell Trading Post NHS, in the curator’s office and observed and took part in many Navajo/Dine ceremonials and events. I also learned a great deal about Navajo/Dine art (such as rug weaving), culture, and lifeways from Navajo co-workers and local friends.

Northern India:  During the early summer of 2003 I participated in the Himalayan Health Exchange Anthropology Expedition in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. We studied and observed the culture and religion of the trans-Himalayan region, specifically in regards to Buddhist religious life and practices on the Tibetan plateau. This research was partially funded by the Freeman Foundation Scholarship to study in East Asia.

The Hardcore Scene:  While at Davidson College I did extensive research/fieldwork into a musical subculture known as the Hardcore scene, looking at patterns of behavior that occur within this setting. My research culminated in the ethnographic essay, “Strength Through Unity: A Critical Examination of Social Interactions Within the Hardcore Music Subculture.”

American Indian Movement (AIM):  I conducted extensive research analyzing the FBI’s impact on the success of AIM, the counterintelligence technique’s utilized in their operations, as well as the creation of Leonard Peltier as a charismatic leader for American Indian activism following AIM’s decline. This research was discussed in my paper, “What the Government Meant by Neutralize: A Critical Examination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Impact on the American Indian Movement.”

Contemporary Intertribal Powwow:  I have done extensive research into this setting as a participant observer and dancer, and have written three major papers on this topic, “American Indian music,” “Powwow as Tourist Spectacle: A Critical Examination of the Contemporary Intertribal Powwow,” and “American Indian Dance and the Contemporary Intertribal Powwow.”

Ghana, West Africa:  During the summer of 2002 I participated in the Davidson College in Ghana Summer Program in Cape Coast, Ghana.  During my stay in Cape Coast I became an apprentice to a master drum maker and learned the art behind creating West African drums. This research was partially funded by a grant from the Dean Rusk Program of Davidson College.

Ireland:  During the summer of 2001 I spent a month traveling around the Republic of Ireland playing the Bodhran (Irish Drum) while learning about and observing the traditional Irish music subculture. This research was completely funded by the Dean Rusk program of Davidson College.