Andie Palmer, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Anthropology Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Anthropology Dept
(780) 492-9481
14-19 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4



I am a linguistic and legal anthropologist, and an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta. It is my honour to serve as Interim Director of the Kule Folklore Centre in our Faculty of Arts for 2023.  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:

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 heard by 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. Volume 2 of the The Franz Boas Papers, Franz Boas, James Teit, and Early Twentieth-Century Salish Ethnography, Andrea Laforet, Angie Bain, John Haugen, Sarah Moritz, and Andie Diane Palmer, Eds. Regna Darnell, Series Editor, can be preordered from University of Nebraska Press.

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 2019-2024, 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 B1 2023

(Topics in Social, Cultural and/or Linguistic Anthropology)

  • I take guidance from orators and storytellers, my teachers, who did not rely on written forms in their transmission of treasured teachings about how to listen, in order to respectfully commune with the world. This guidance is imperfectly learned, but it is taken to heart, and provides the ethical framework for the studies in this class.
  • Zoom enhances the ethnographer’s goal of making the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. Even a most customary and codified form of interaction—discourse in the classroom— is made unusual by our present moment. Just saying ‘hello’ to classmates is marked, and remarked upon, as ‘unusual’ or ‘unprecedented,’ or ‘momentous.’ Our metacommentary on everything that had been part of our ordinary world reflects a heightened attention to the new media and emergent forms of greeting, turn-taking, and to interlocutory communion through song, story, and oratory. What better time, then, to focus on what makes some speech events transcendent?
  • In the crucible of the pandemic, we are documenting the spoken word and its reception, including how and why a comedian’s well-tested anecdote might flat, while an intimate and halting narrative of personal achievement could move millions to respond and reflect on our deep human connection.
  • In 2023, we surf the imperfect wave of newly-emergent performances in dangerous spaces. We invite you to ride out this unsteady passage, as you bear witness to artistic modes of expression across and between cultures and media. Our course is grounded in discourse studies and in ethnopoetics, that is, the evaluation and appreciation of artistic language according to the traditions the culture studied.
  • Oral traditions are front and centre in these studies; the creative works and publications of Indigenous orators, storytellers and philosophers are integral to the course. Students of Indigenous oral literatures, as well as those in performance studies, communication, rhetoric, and linguistics are welcome. Please join us!
  • Synchronous delivery; small class size (12-15)

Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology (ANTHR 208) (Fall 2022)

My graduate seminars, taught in alternate years, are:

Landscape and Culture: The Social Meaning of Place (ANTHR 598) (Fall 2022)

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)


The American Philosophical Society (APS) is hosting a virtual conversation for the booklaunch of Volume 2 of the The Franz Boas Papers, Franz Boas, James Teit, and Early Twentieth-Century Salish Ethnography, with Andrea Laforet, Angie Bain, John Haugen, Sarah Moritz, and Andie Diane Palmer, Eds. Advance registration and details for this public event are here. All are welcome, on April 17, 2024. 

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: