Nieves Zedeno

Professor, Anthropology
Research Anthropologist (BARA)

 Emil W. Haury Building, Room 316B

About María Nieves Zedeño

Hi! I am a North American archaeologist, who, upon joining the Native American Cultural Resource Revitalization Program at the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) in 1994, saw an opportunity to apply my archaeological skills to topics of contemporary relevance to Native Americans. For 23 years now, my research agenda has focused mainly on integrating archaeology, ethnohistory, and ethnography into projects designed to fulfill the ethical and legal requirements of cultural preservation and to explicitly address contemporary cultural and social concerns of tribal communities. The intellectual framework that organizes my research, teaching, and outreach activities emphasizes behavioral and social theory. This integrative venture is slowly becoming a personal contribution to the profession, to the education of students, and to the Native American communities with which I work.

I have been devoted mainly to the understanding of traditional land use history vis-à-vis past and present community identity and social cohesion. Throughout this period I have honed a cultural landscape framework to best capture the breadth and complexity of native concepts of the world as they inform land use practices. Because this is a well-received framework among American Indians and anthropologists today, I have been successful at securing research funding from federal and private sources and at completing collaborative archaeological and ethnographic projects with numerous tribes representing Pueblo, Numic, Algonquian, Kootenai, Salish, and Siouan languages and ethnic groups, in the U.S., as well as Canada.

I now consider my professional practice to be Indigenous Archaeology, that is, archaeology that explicitly combines non-western worldviews and conventional archaeological frameworks both theoretically and practically. This is the approach I want to pass on to my students (and, so far, I am succeeding). In addition, Native American ways of thinking inspire me to expand and refine conceptual and methodological approaches to the peopling of North America, hunter-gatherer organization, territory and territoriality, and relational taxonomy, which my colleagues may find useful for their own research.

Selected Publications


Chandler, K., W. Murray, M. N. Zedeño, S. Clements, and J. Jones. 2017. The Winged – An Ethno-ornithology of the Upper Missouri River. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona No. 78. 

Scheiber, Laura and M. N. Zedeño (eds.). 2015. Engineering Mountain Landscapes: The Archaeology of Social Investment. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. 


Zedeño, M. N., J. Ballenger, and J. Murray. 2014. Landscape Engineering and Organizational Complexity among Late Prehistoric Bison Hunters of the Northwestern Plains. Current Anthropology 55:23-58.

Feathers, James, M. N. Zedeño, Lawrence C. Todd, and Stephen Aaberg. 2015. Dating Stone Alignments by Luminescence. Advances in Archaeological Practice 3:378-396.

Bethke, Brandi, M. N. Zedeño, G. Jones, and M. Pailes. 2016. Complementary Approaches to the Identification of Bison Processing for Storage at the Kutoyis Complex, Montana. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Zedeño, M. N. 2017. Art as the Road to Perfection: The Blackfoot Painted Tipi. Cambride Archaeological Journal 27:631-642. 

Zedeño, M. N. 2017. Bison Huntings and the Rocky Mountains: An Envolving Partnership. Quaternary International 641:80-101.


Zedeño, M. N. 2014. Journeys of Rediscovery: Archaeology, Territory, and Legitimacy in Contemporary Native Nevada. In Archaeology for All Times: Essays in Honor of Don D. Fowler (Nancy Parezo and Joel Janetski, editors). University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, pp. 246-259.. 

Zedeño, M. N. 2017. The Impact of Abundance on the Rhythm of Bison Hunter Societies. In Abundance: An Archaeological Analysis of Plentitude (Monica Smith, editor). University Press of Colorado, Boulder, pp. 23-44.

Zedeño, M. N. 2018. Power at the Crossroads of Politics and Religion: A Commentary. In Religion and Politics in the Ancient Americas (Sarah Barber and Arthur Joyce, editors). Routledge, New York, pp. 284-302.


Courses Taught

ANTH 160A1 World Archaeology (online)

ANTH 300 NEW! From Mammoth to Maize in Ancient North America

ANTH 451A: Archaeology of North America

ANTH 551A: Archaeology of North America (graduate seminar)

ANTH 606 Archaeology and Descendant Communities

ANTH 636 Introduction to Archaeological Theory

ANTH 638 Culture Contact and Colonialism

Areas of Study

North America (general)



2013 - Present: Blackfoot Early Origins

2007-2012 - Kutoyis Archaeological Project

2004-2012 - Badger Two Medicine Traditional Cultural District - Boundary Expansion and Nomination

Research Interests

American Indian cultural resource preservation, traditional land and resource use, territoriality, cultural landscapes, hunter-gatherer complexity, reservation-era hunting. North American archaeology;  Northern Plains and Great Lakes prehistory, ethnohistory, and ethnography; archaeological method and theory;  peopling of North America; foraging societies.