WSU Vancouver cultural anthropology major Emma R. Johnson has received a prestigious and nationally competitive Udall Undergraduate Scholarship in its tribal public policy category.
“The Udall (Scholarship) is incredibly important to me,” said Johnson. “Completing all the work to apply and then being successful, it’s a really huge deal. It is helping me complete my education.”
Johnson is WSU’s fifth Udall recipient since 2015. The Udall Foundation, a federal agency, works both to strengthen the appreciation and stewardship of the environment, public lands and natural resources, and to strengthen Native Nations to facilitate their self-determination, governance and human capital goals.
The scholarship funds Johnson’s college tuition and fees for 2018-19, moving her closer to her career goal of serving the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, of which she is an enrolled member.
“My culture degree will come into play a lot in my future career working with both cultural and natural resources,” she said.
A chemical analysis of excavated bones shows that Mesoamericans had a long history of keeping jaguars and pumas—some of the fiercest predators around—in captivity.
“It’s absolutely solid work,” says Erin Thornton, an anthropologist at Washington State University who specializes in isotope analysis.
“With animal remains from Mesoamerica, it’s very hard to tell if you’re dealing with a captive animal from bones alone,” she said. “Stable isotopes are really the only way to tell if an animal was removed from the wild and put under human management.”
The first social scientist to be invited by the World Health Organization to help Ebola control efforts works right here in Clark County.
Barry Hewlett, an anthropology professor at Washington State University Vancouver, visited Central Africa to help the WHO in 2000, and he has visited the continent about five times as part of response efforts.
Hewlett will share stories on his experience, and how he worked to develop trust between local communities and the international and national response teams, at 7 p.m. Wednesday for Science on Tap at Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver.
When Hewlett first arrived, there was some apprehension from locals when it came to dealing with those response teams.
“The number of cases was going up, even though they were doing everything they thought they needed to do,” Hewlett said. “People were essentially running away from the World Health Organization treatment centers, isolation units and the rest. So the thought is, ‘What’s going on here?’ ”
Turtles served as more than tasty treats for many Native American tribes throughout North America. In fact, turtle shells were used as rattles and other musical instruments, said FSU Associate Professor of Anthropology Tanya Peres.
“Music is an important part of many cultures in ways we may not realize,” Peres said. “Musical instruments have a deep ancient history in human society and are encoded with meanings beyond their sound making capabilities.”
Peres and lead author Andrew Gillreath-Brown, a doctoral candidate from Washington State University, published their research in the academic journal PLOS One.
The researchers examined the use of turtle shells as percussion instruments in the southeastern United States. They identified and analyzed several partial Eastern box turtle shells from middle Tennessee archaeological sites that they believe were used as rattles.
In the past, turtle shells found at archaeological sites were often dismissed as food remains.
New evidence shows for the first time that the North American Southwest was home to a smattering of scarlet macaw breeding centers as early as 900 AD. Prized by the prehistoric residents of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon for their religious and cultural significance, macaws appear to have been raised in one of the first sustainable systems of non-agricultural animal husbandry in this region, a nod to the sophistication of early residents of the American Southwest.
“It’s in [native peoples’] social memory how important macaws were,” says Erin Smith, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at Washington State University. “Even at points in history when trade relationships broke down, they were a significant part of the culture.”
The presence of an early aviary indicates that villages of this era were already starting to specialize in sectors of business: Raising macaws served one purpose and one purpose alone—but met growing demand for a highly valuable commodity.
“For a long time, people doubted there were these intense connections [between such distant locales],” says Smith. “This paper is providing solid DNA evidence of these connections, and how complex and dynamic these relationships were.”