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Task Force on Anthropology and American Indian and Alaska Native Nations – Biographical Info

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Barbra Meek

Barbra A. Meek (BA Anthropology, BA Philosophy, University of Akron; MA (Linguistics), Joint PhD Linguistics and Anthropology, University of Arizona) is an enrolled citizen of the Comanche Nation and mother of two. She is also a professor of anthropology and linguistics and the director of Native American Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her areas of research include documentary linguistics, language revitalization and reclamation, Indigeneity and language socialization, language advocacy and social justice, and raciolinguistics. A champion of collaboration in a field that privileges single-authoredness, she has worked with several colleagues around the world and is currently co-Associate Editor of the linguistic anthropology section of AAA’s flagship journal, American Anthropologist, alongside Dr. Sherina Feliciano-Santos. In her free time, she trains for half marathons with her husband and even runs a few.

Katie Sampeck

Kathryn Sampeck (BA, MA, University of Chicago; PhD Tulane University) is an Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University and an Associate with the DuBois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She investigates Indigenous American and African diasporic practices and material worlds, how they both shaped and were transformed by colonial dynamics, and their enduring consequences. She is a champion of archaeology’s unique perspectives, methods, and information as crucial for understanding the development and maintenance of inequalities. Sampeck’s research examines the cultural history of taste, cultural landscapes, racial ideologies, literacy, money, and commerce in American commodities in the Early Modern world. Sampeck has devoted years of archaeological and historical research to understanding the cultural history of chocolate, and as a Board Member of the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute, advocates for a more equitable and transparent chocolate-cacao value chain through improved producer and consumer education as well as research-based local, federal, and international planning. Her archaeological endeavors are community-based and promote cultural heritage preservation as a realm of sovereignty. She works in partnership with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. She co-edited, with Stacey Schwartzkopf, the 2017 volume Substance and Seduction: Ingested Commodities in Early Modern Mesoamerica. She has published numerous articles in leading peer-reviewed history, anthropology, archaeology, and geography and Latin American Studies journals. Forthcoming works include Rich: Cacao Money in Mesoamerica and Afro-Latin American Archaeology: An Introduction. Her affiliation with Harvard University began in 2016 as the Central America Fellow at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center. Currently, she holds a Fulbright fellowship in the United Kingdom, conducting research at the British Library. Previous fellowships include two Fulbrights, a long-term and a digital fellowship with the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, and a residential fellowship at Colonial Williamsburg as well as grants from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Social Science Research Council. She serves as the Archaeology Seat on the American Anthropological Association Executive Board, coordinates the Society for American Archaeology Afro-Latin American Archaeology Interest Group, and is Editor of the journal Historical Archaeology.

Richie Meyers

Richard Meyers is Director of Graduate Studies and an associate professor at Oglala Lakota College (OLC) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. As an Oglala (Lakota) Sioux tribal member, he is one of a small group of federally recognized tribal members to achieve a PhD within the discipline of anthropology. Richie’s had a long and satisfying journey off of the reservation pursuing his education and anthropological experiences prior to returning home to teach. He holds a Master’s and PhD degree in Anthropology from Arizona State University, as well as a Master’s degree in English from the Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, where he was both a fellow and faculty member. At South Dakota State University, he served as Director of Tribal Outreach to the President, was Program Coordinator of American Indian Studies, and served as Assistant to the Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences on matters of inclusion, diversity, and equity. Meyers has served as a writer for the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs under both the Bush and Obama administrations, and was a fellow in the Anthropology Department at the Smithsonian. He’s a member of the executive board of the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists (AIA), and a board member to the Plains Anthropological Society (PAS).

Sven Haakanson

Sven Haakanson Jr., Ph.D., is Sugpiaq from Old Harbor, Alaska. He is a Curator of North American Anthropology at the Burke Museum, and an Associate Professor in Anthropology at the University of Washington. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (2007), the Museums Alaska Award for Excellence (2008), the ATALM Guardians of Culture and Lifeways Leadership Award (2012), and his work on the Angyaaq led it to be inducted into the Alaska Innovators Hall of Fame (2020). He joined the University of Washington in 2013. He engages communities in cultural revitalization using material reconstruction as a form of scholarship and teaching. His projects have included the reconstruction of full-sized angyaaq boats from archaeological models, as well as halibut hooks, masks, paddles, and traditional processing of bear gut into waterproof material for clothing. He has and continues to collaborate with the community of Akhiok at their Akhiok Kids camp since 2000.

Scott Ketchum

Dr. Scott Ketchum is an enrolled member of Choctaw Nation. He is an Assistant Professor, Director of Native American Studies, and Chickasaw Endowed Chair at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Dr. Ketchum earned a doctorate in sociocultural anthropologist, MA in Native American Studies, and a BA in Political Science. Dr. Ketchum has worked at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University as a research scientist. His research interests include tribal cultural preservation, tribal natural resource management, tribal economic development, indigenous knowledge systems, tribal sovereignty, and the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics research in tribal communities. His current research focuses on preserving natural resources like shagbark hickory for culture activities such as stickball. His research also explores the use of participatory research and community engagement methods in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities in health and genomic research. He has served as a cultural expert and advisor in legal disputes.

Shannon Speed

Dr. Shannon Speed is a tribal citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. She is Director of the American Indian Studies Center (AISC) and Professor of Gender Studies and Anthropology at UCLA. Her ethnographic work has been primarily in Mexico and in immigration detention facilities in the United States, on topics including indigenous politics, human rights, neoliberalism, gender, violence, indigenous migration, and activist research. Dr. Speed has published seven books and edited volumes, including her most recent award-winning book, Incarcerated Stories: Indigenous Women Migrants and Violence in the Settler Capitalist State, and a volume co-edited with Dr. Lynn Stephen entitled, Heightened States of Injustice: Activist Research on Indigenous Women and Violence. Dr. Speed recently served a three-year term as President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA).

Beth Leonard

Beth Ginondidoy Leonard is Deg Xit’an, member of the Shageluk Tribe of interior Alaska and second language learner of Deg Xinag. Her parents are the late James and Jean Dementi. Beth earned all her degrees at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (PhD – Cross-Cultural Studies, MEd – Language & Literacy, BA – Linguistics) and held several faculty positions at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. During the 1990s, Beth assisted in grant-writing and coordinating language preservation projects for Tanana Chiefs Conference, a consortium of interior Alaska tribal governments. She also served as PI or Co-PI on several grants funded by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Indian Education, and the Mellon Foundation. In 2014, Beth was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Core Scholarship and spent five months at Te Kawa a Māui – School of Māori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington researching and teaching with Dr. Ocean Mercier, who is currently an associate professor of Māori Studies. She is a member of the Alaska Native Studies Council, the Doyon Foundation Language Revitalization Committee, and is a 2019 Arctic Indigenous Scholar (Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S./Inuit Circumpolar Council). After serving as University of Alaska Anchorage Alaska Native Studies faculty from 2016-2020, Beth accepted a research professorship with Alaska Pacific University, an institution moving towards tribal university status. Her current research investigates the confluences of Indigenous methodologies, knowledges and pedagogies in shaping Indigenous spaces in higher education.



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