I am a linguistic and legal anthropologist, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. My current research concerns the negotiation of linguistic and cultural difference in courts, tribunals, and other court-like settings, with a particular focus on the interpretation of treaties and oral history testimony.
I invite you to explore my research, publications and course offerings documented elsewhere on this website and in my cv. If you are a considering a career in anthropology, or share interests in social justice, discourse, or anthropological poetics, I would welcome your application to our MA thesis or PhD program via our graduate programs page. As I served as a graduate chair for nearly a decade, I'm interested in potential graduate students finding the best fit possible for their research interests, regardless of the university they ultimately select. You can find my tips on how to apply for graduate programs, and to make a good match, at: https://cloudfront.ualberta.ca/-/media/arts/departments-institutes-and-centres/anthropology/winning-acceptance-to-the-graduate-program-of-your-choice.pdf.
If you are searching for a course for Winter Term 2021, please consider the course, Legal Anthropology: Indigenous Rights (ANTHR 485/585). (See teaching section, below, for details.)
We acknowledge that our university stands on lands hunted over by Cree and Blackfoot, Nakoda Sioux, Iroquois-Cree, Dene and Métis, and particularly, that we are nearest to territory claimed by Papasteyo, or Papaschase, at the signing of Treaty Six. Our obligations within these lands are solemnized through that treaty, and we acknowledge both the signatories and the non-signatories of the treaty. I am grateful to be able to write to you from this land, known as Beaver-Hills House, ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan), Edmonton.
The goal of my research is to foster understanding of social practice at the intersections of: 1) the systems of laws and responsibilities of Indigenous societies; 2) the system of property law that flows from the British Crown and Common Law to Aotearoa New Zealand and Canada.
My research interests have emerged from a longstanding involvement with Indigenous communities in Washington State and British Columbia, and through bearing witness to their experiences and their testimony in courtrooms. I aim to contribute to the development of an emergent and responsive judicial system, and to the respectful interpretation of nation-to-nation relationships in the courts, as established and maintained through treaty, or through other relational means.
My programme of research in Aotearoa New Zealand, with respect to the Te Paparahi O Te Raki (Wai 1040) claim currently before the Waitangi Tribunal extends this work to the observation of claims in a court-like setting. The dignity and purpose of Māori claimants have been upheld by the Waitangi Tribunal’s finding in the Stage One Wai 1040 Report, that Ngāpuhi claimants did not cede sovereignty to the Crown. Research on freshwater claims has also been supported through my membership in the Transdisciplinary Research Network: Water, Climate Change, Futures (M. Stewart-Harawira, PI) through a grant from Kule Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Alberta. My past work on cross-cultural (mis)communication in courtrooms has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the (former) Law Commission of Canada.
I am a member of the SSHRC/American Philosophical Society–supported Franz Boas Papers Project (Regna Darnell, PI), on James Teit’s papers, his work on land rights as the Secretary for the Allied Tribes of British Columbia at the turn of the last century, and the subsequent provision in the Indian Act, Sec. 141, in force until 1951, prohibiting members of First Nations from hiring lawyers or legal counsel.
Research funded by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS), New Approaches to communities, communication, and consultation through the lens of geothermal energy development on the traditional lands of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation (Andie Palmer and Lianne Lefsrud, Co-Principal Investigators) from 2019-2022, includes our recent trip with seven members of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation to the National Museum of the American Indian's Cultural Reseource Center, as part of a renewed connection with their ancestral belongings.
As a co-investigator on the multi-disciplinary Future Energy Systems project, Socio-economic Roadmaps to Commercial Energy Production in W. Canada, (Lianne Lefsrud, PI) funded by the Canada First Rsearch Excellence Fund at the University of Alberta, I have been proud to work alongside colleagues in the faculties of Engineering, Business, and Science, to work with consideration for Indigenous proprietary interests in geothermal energy, and to propose new frameworks that would contribute to Canada better fulfilling the duty to consult with respect to new energy development.
I have been fortunate to collaborate with members of Esketemc First Nation at Esk’et, also known as Alkali Lake, since beginning my doctoral fieldwork with the late Angela George and her family, and most recently in support of Esketemc’s successful opposition to a proposed gold mine, which had sited power transmission corridors and roadworks within their hunting, fishing and gathering territory. The supporting research, presented to two national Environmental Review Boards, was also the basis for Maps of Experience: The Anchoring of Land to Story in Secwepemc Discourse (University of Toronto Press). This book documents traditional practices on the land, including the narratives of hunters and gatherers as pooled through discursive exchange, which can be considered together as ‘maps of experience,’ providing the basis of shared understanding and social relationship to territory.
Anthropological Perspectives on Verbal Art Anthr 485/585 A2
(Topics in Social, Cultural and/or Linguistic Anthropology)
Fall Term 2020, Thursdays from 9:00-11:50 AM MT with Dr. Andie Palmer
Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology (ANTHR 208) Fall Term 2021
My graduate seminars, taught in alternate years, are:
Oral History: A Seminar on Life Story Narratives (ANTHR 587)
Legal Anthropology: Indigenous Rights (ANTHR 485/585)
I also occasionally teach:
Northwest Coast Societies from an Anthropological Perspective (ANTHR 474)
Anthropological Approaches to Human Communication (Narrative and Discourse) (Anthr 322)
Thanks to the Kule Institute of Advanced Study (KIAS) at the University of Alberta for our funding research with partners at Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, including our October 2019 visit to the National Museum of the American Indian's Cultural Resource Center. Repatriation efforts are highlighted in a CBC news story: https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/alexis-nakota-repatriation-smithsonian-1.5344488
The anthropological study of language and communication. A brief survey of field and analytical methods and the theory of linguistic anthropology.Fall Term 2021
A survey of the cultures of the Northwest Coast from Yakutat Bay to the Columbia River. Cultures will be examined from the perspectives of the ethnographic present, historical change, and current developments. Focal areas include social structure, kinship, economic systems, material culture, ethnoaesthetics, winter dance ceremonial complexes, and language. Prerequisite: ANTHR 207 (or ANTHE 207) or 250 or consent of Department. Offered in alternate years.Winter Term 2022
Consult the Department for the specific topics offered and any recommended courses to be completed prior to registering.Winter Term 2022
Readings, presentations, and discussions of staff research, recent advances and current issues in the four fields of anthropology. Limited to new MA studentsFall Term 2021
Consult the Department and/or the University timetable for the specific topics offered.Winter Term 2022
Readings, presentations, and discussions of staff research, recent advances and current issues in the four fields of anthropology. Limited to new PhD students. Optional for students with credit in ANTHR 501Fall Term 2021