In partnership with the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Heritage Program, the School of Anthropology is hosting a three-year, Western Apache Ethnography and GIS Research Experience for Undergraduates Field Program. Funded by a $254,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates Sites program, eight students each summer for three years will spend six weeks learning ethnographic research and Geographic Information Systems theory and methods and putting their training into practice through community-based participatory research.
The program is based on White Mountain Apache Tribal trust lands at Fort Apache, Arizona, where students are contributing to the creation of a Western Apache cultural and historical atlas. Guided by elders and other knowledge holders, students complete research on topics related to the Western Apache people and their homelands. Approaching this broad subject holistically, topics for study recommended by cultural advisors include cultural histories, traditional and local ecological knowledge, and issues of historic and contemporary natural resource management. Each student's work will contribute basic material for maps to be included in the atlas that will be completed after the conclusion of the program's third season. Students' projects are also being adapted to provide material to be used in cultural education classes in reservation schools.
Five White Mountain Apache Tribal members and three other students from around the country made up the program's inaugural class during the summer of 2010. Working with nearly fifty Tribal elders, cultural experts, and Tribal resource managers, the students completed a variety of studies ranging from documenting clan origin sites to mapping the extent of invasive plant species on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, to identifying acorn-gathering localities throughout eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.
The program's director is Karl Hoerig, a 2000 U.A. Anthropology Ph.D. and head of the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Nohwike' Bágowa Museum. The School of Anthropology's Professor of Practice, T.J. Ferguson, along with Tom Pederson from Atkin, Olshin Schade Architects and Dr. John Welch from Simon Fraser University (and another UA Anthropology Ph.D.) join Hoerig to make up the program's faculty. Additional GIS training and mentorship is provided by members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe's GIS office.
NSF?s Research Experience for Undergraduates program is intended to reach students who might otherwise not have access to research opportunities. In keeping with the Western Apache Tribes' goals of providing broad training for Tribal members, Apache and other Native students are particularly sought for this program. For additional information, please contact Karl Hoerig at email@example.com. Applications for the 2011 season will be available through the School of Anthropology's website early next year.