Anthropology Students Engage in Research

Dr Carroll and students study map of Yellow Dog River
Local Yellow Dog Plains expert examines maps with anthropology students as  Dr. Alex Carroll looks on.

Several anthropology students are currently actively engaged in research projects with Dr. Alex Carroll, Assistant Professor of Anthropology.  They’ve been doing directed studies under Dr. Carroll and gaining first-hand experience in the world of anthropology.  For more information on her work and how you can be a part of anthropology, contact Dr. Carroll.  Here is a quick overview of her projects and student assessments of their personal experiences.

1.  Yellow Dog Plains Cultural Landscape Study

At present we are working towards the preservation of cultural landscapes on the Yellow Dog Plains.  Not only will we be striving to preserve the cultural landscapes, but also the land itself.  Kennecott Mineral Company wants to start mining on land there, and through different forms of research we are trying to stop this destruction of a natural habitat and Native American historical and religious sites.  We are using ethnographic interviews to obtain information from people living in the Yellow Dog Plains area.  Through their knowledge of the local landscape, and the history that is preserved through word-of-mouth, we hope to stop the mining and preserve the history and integrity of the Yellow Dog Plains.

Student Laura Katona with video/audio recording equipment
Anthropology student, Laura Katona practices interview documentation for Yellow Dog Plains project

Laura Katona says:

Working on research with Dr. Carroll has been a very rewarding experience for me so far.  She has enabled and pushed me to become more proficient at researching, and learning to use resources.  This opportunity is teaching me how to interact well with people of higher standing in the academic world.  My confidence in the knowledge that I have, and my ability to use it has also dramatically increased.  I am very privileged to be able to work so closely with Dr. Carroll.  I am going to be able to apply what I learn during this research to my studies in the fall, and I anticipate that researching and writing papers is going to be a much smoother process.

Andrew Mallo comments:

Being able to work with Dr. Carroll has been very rewarding. My directed study has allowed me to get hands-on experience and practice some of the major concepts mentioned in her classes. So far, I’ve been able to conduct ethnographic interviews and become familiar with the process involved in protecting culturally significant areas. More specifically, my tasks have been geared towards research.  I have had the opportunity to work with many different types of records such as maps, journals, microfilm and electronic resources.  The practice I have had with these different mediums will help significantly in the upcoming semester and throughout my college career.  I am thankful to Dr. Carroll and the Sociology Department for offering such an informative class to undergraduates.  Listening and discussing concepts in class is interesting, but being able to actively participate in them increases their appeal tenfold.

2. Oral Histories and Place Making Practices Among the Paiutes and Shoshone of Lincoln County: A Cultural Landscape of the Mormon Mountains

The Mormon Mountains constitute an extremely rich and variegated archaeological area documenting the diverse life experiences of Numic people from prehistoric times through the present.  Within the Mormon Mountains are numeorus rock shelters and caves in close association with rock art.  Among the Numa and the Newe, caves served as dwellings, regions of refuge, places for storing caches, and ritual settings.  On the east flank of the Mormon Mountains are circular structures that some cultural representatives indicate have ceremonial significance that derives from its high elevation and location in a mountain range associated with puha, or power.  These places are clearly areas that have longstanding significance among the Numic people.  Unfortunately, these areas are located only 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and thus are made increasingly vulnerable by the continued growth and development of this urban center (BLM 2006).  Which of these areas of cultural significance will be documented and preserved for the future generations depends largely upon our actions in the present.  With such considerations in mind, this proposal aims to identify and record oral histories and place-making practices of Numic-speaking peoples associated with unique archaeological resources in the Mormon Mountains as evidenced by a high density of caves, rock shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs, and roasting pits (Hanes 1983).  This general project goal shall be met through the ethnographic evaluation of nine archaeological sites within the Mormon Mountains by Paiute and Shoshone cultural representatives with traditional knowledge of the material culture, associated cultural landscapes, and traditional use patterns.

The students have been aiding Dr. Carroll in preparing the grant proposal to conduct this research.

3. Ho Chunk Nation Cultural Landscape Proposal

We are presently creating a cultural landscape proposal for the Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, which is one means of preserving pre-contact and contact sites of cultural significance.  Our research concentrates on the Kingsley Bend mounds and extends several miles around the perimeter of the Kingsley Bend.  By using archaeology, ethnography, and oral histories we hope to expand knowledge of the famous mound builders of this region while also providing systematic mechanisms to protect these places for current and future generations.

Laura Emory  has been assisting Dr. Carroll on this project.  She's been doing background research, literature reviews and helping to prepare the research proposal. She writes:

The experience of working on the Ho-Chunk Nation Cultural Landscape Proposal has been an enlightening experience for me.  Dr. Carroll has provided me with a valuable hands-on opportunity to do something in my college experience that has actual importance. In this, I have been acquiring experience and skills that will prove invaluable to the expansion of my academic and professional horizons, as well as my personal growth.