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The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology



News about the High Plains Society, information on upcoming events and reports on past events. To send an item for possible posting on this website, please email andrea.akers.mader@gmail.com.
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  • Friday, October 09, 2009 10:16 AM | Kreg Ettenger
    The 2009 Ghost Ranch Retreat was held the weekend of October 2-4. This annual event allows members to get together for a long weekend in the beautiful and relaxed atmosphere of the Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, New Mexico. For more information on the 2010 retreat, stay tuned!
  • Friday, May 29, 2009 10:36 AM | Kreg Ettenger

    2009 Annual Conference: New Approaches to Familiar Issues

    by Ben Jewell, Newsletter Editor

    The annual HPSFAA Spring conference, held once again at Metro State College’s Auraria Campus in Denver, was the first under the direction of incoming president Kathleen Pickering and signaled not only a changing of the guards, but a turning point in the history of our organization. The theme was Development and Sustainability: Recognizing New Resources and Hearing New Voices. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the beginnings of the HPSFAA, we witness not so much a shift in issues that are important to us as social scientists or applied anthropologists, but perhaps the cementing of our recognition of the importance of incorporating the voices of those with whom we have spent our careers trying to make more audible.

    By including local people from the communities in which we work, we have taken an important step towards our stated objectives of disseminating the body of knowledge accumulated through the application of principles that explain and improve human relations. Since 2007, the annual Spring Conference has included presentations from members of the Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee communities; activists fighting land rights issues in Native American communities; and this year, Ernest House Jr., executive secretary for the Colorado commission on Indian affairs and member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Colorado.

    For those in attendance at the 2007 conference, the presentation by Walter Little Moon and Jane Ridgway about the issues facing residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was a moving reminder that often the most articulate statements heard in anthropology are those that come from the people themselves. This year was no different. Many of the most memorable ideas and discussions came from people who are not anthropologists, but have similarly dedicated themselves to understanding the complexities of the political, social and economic conditions under which their people live.

    Films and Social Change

    Not only did we have the opportunity to hear new voices, but we were also treated to new methods of delivering those voices. Friday evening was capped by the presentation of two films about issues facing Native American communities. Bradley Morse’s film, A Film Dedicated to the Memory of Nicholas Blacksmith, traces the tragic death of a young Oglala Lakota teenager who was killed in a collision with an automobile while riding his bike on the highway near his home. The film details the dangerous conditions under which Lakota children must navigate their way to and from school programs, forcing them to utilize a busy two-lane highway with no shoulder or bike path.

    In the process of making the film, Morse talked to the Blacksmith and other families and questioned teenagers about their perceptions of bike safety. The awareness raised by the film and the efforts of local residents eventually led to the creation of a paved bike path and Morse has continued to provide voice to local Pine Ridge residents by assisting them with producing their own films about issues they feel are important.

    The second film of the evening, The Sacred Site of Bear Butte and Development Conflicts, by Mark St. Pierre and Tilda Long Soldier, focused on the ongoing battle over preservation of the sacred site of Bear Butte. A site of spiritual and cultural importance for numerous tribal groups in the Northern Great Plains, Bear Butte is also a popular tourist destination for attendees of the annual Sturgis biker rally in South Dakota, which in turn makes the area a site for potential economic development.

    Board Changes

    Dr. Jack Schultz has been elected as the next HPSfAA President, and will serve the next two years as President-elect. A professor of anthropology at Metro State College since 1991, Dr. Schultz has had a long career as a member of the Society and an applied anthropologist. Dr. Schultz’s research has taken him to Chad and Cameroon while working for USAID, to West Africa, the Philippines and with nine different Native American and First Nation communities in the United States and Canada.

    The board appointed a replacement for the Secretary position after Amanda Israel’s departure to the West Coast. We want to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to Amanda for her years of service to the Society as Secretary and conference organizer, and to wish her all the best in her future endeavors. Jack Omstead, currently Kathy Pickering’s assistant, has been selected to replace Amanda as Secretary. Jack graduated Summa Cum Laude from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a BA in anthropology and history and has recently been accepted to a teach for America position beginning this fall at Manual High School where he will teach 10th graders.

    Finally, Mark St. Pierre has been elected as Member-at-Large. Mark has had a long career as a community development expert and a college teacher and has lived and worked in Indian Country for 38 years. A founding member of the Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Mark has successfully implemented numerous economic development projects at Pine Ridge and elsewhere, and is currently developing the Cloud Horse Arts Institute with his wife Tilda Long Soldier. The Cloud Horse Institute teaches Lakota youth traditional life skills and seeks to preserve traditional and contemporary Lakota arts, from painting and beadwork to film and theater.

    Best wishes to all of the incoming board members and a sincere ‘thank-you’ to all who have served as a board member. We look forward to an exciting year ahead as we mark our 30th year as an organization, and plot a course for the next 30!

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