PSU professor and team win prestigious award for work with tribes, feds
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Posted: February 15, 2019
 Portland State University anthropology professor Jeremy Spoon is part of a unique collaborative team that will be recognized for their work and contributions over the last decade to strengthen ties between 16 Native American tribes, several federal agencies and other partners.

Spoon, an associate professor of anthropology in PSU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a senior fellow at The Mountain Institute, was awarded the Society for Applied Anthropology's prestigious 2019 Robert A. and Beverly H. Hackenberg Prize — along with Richard Arnold, chairperson of the Pahrump Paiute Tribe in Nevada, and other collaborators.

The Hackenberg Prize recognizes SfAA members and their community partners whose work demonstrates sustained and meaningful collaboration to improve the communities where they live and work.

Since 2008, Spoon, Arnold, and other key collaborators have worked closely with 16 Nuwu (Southern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone) and Numu (Owens Valley Paiute and Shoshone) tribes and federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Energy. Their efforts have primarily been focused on integrating tribal views and knowledge to revitalize cultural and familial ties to indigenous lands and creating ways to co-manage resources that are now federally managed. 

"It's a revitalization of land that tribal partners consider a personified relative of the indigenous people that has been severed from them," Spoon said. "This work is helping to bring the land back into balance in culturally appropriate ways to ensure the indigenous presence remains central in these protected areas through progressive approaches of consultation, co-management and public education."

Spoon said the key to their success has been the strong leadership, dedication and willingness to participate in collaboration with the federal agencies, rather than in opposition to them.

"We've fostered co-learning opportunities and capacity building that help in the healing, restoration and management process together," he said.

Some key highlights include:

Spoon says that, as an anthropologist, he serves as a cultural conduit among the tribes, federal agencies, state government, local municipalities, and public and private parties to build trust, rapport and relationships through systematic tribal input.

"It's an investment," he said. "There's always more to learn and information to share, thus creating opportunities to integrate tribal knowledge in culturally compatible ways."

Spoon, Arnold, other collaborators, and PSU students, will describe their work during a special lecture at the Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting in March 2019 in Portland.

Photos: At top, PSU anthropology professor Jeremy Spoon, right, with Richard Arnold, chair of the Pahrump Paiute Tribe in Nevada. At bottom, the 2018 Gathering For Our Mountains, an annual event co-hosted by Nuwu tribes and federal agencies.