I graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2002 after studying anthropology, though my focus was on southwestern archaeology and ethnobotany. I was fortunate enough to study under Dr. Jim Judge, Dr. Enrique Salmon, Mona Charles, and many others in the great anthropology and indigenous studies programs at FLC. Since graduating, I have continued to work as a southwestern archaeologist in the contract and academic worlds. After graduating from FLC, I worked as a field technician and research scientist on the Animas-La Plata Project outside of Durango. In 2004, I went back to school and earned my Master’s degree in anthropology from Northern Arizona University in 2007 where I integrated my interests in archaeology and ethnobotany with my thesis research on reconstructing ancient agricultural practices of Ancestral Pueblo farmers who lived around Durango between A.D. 750 and 820.
Around this time, I moved to Bluff Utah and managed archaeological field crews on the Comb Ridge Heritage Initiative Project in SE Utah, and then worked for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center for several years. At Crow Canyon, I taught kids and adults about archaeology and worked with Hopi farmers to create the Pueblo Farming Project, an experimental research program that continues today. I was even lucky enough to get a one semester teaching gig at the Fort, teaching a class called Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Cultural Survival, a class I’d taken from Dr. Salmon several years prior and taught it in the same classroom where I’d taken Dr. David Kozak’s Anthropological Debates class some years before. In 2010, I returned to the world of CRM, working as a field and project director on several excavations for Abajo Archaeology in Bluff, Blanding, and Escalante Utah.
In 2012, I jumped back into the academic world when I was admitted to the PhD program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Here, I began a joint project with the BLM, School of Anthropology, and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. In this project, my volunteers and I are working to document and date building murals (with tree-rings and ceramics) in the cliff dwellings of the Cedar Mesa (now the Bears Ears National Monument) area in SE Utah. Working with over 40 volunteers, this research is seeking to document and preserve some of the most fragile and spectacular archaeological resources, for generations to come. I am now ABD (All But Dissertation), and am working hard to write up my research documenting the ancient remains of clothing (twined yucca sandals) with mural and rock art depictions of woven garments, to reconstruct ancient dressing practices and religious-political movements during the rise and fall of the Chaco Regional System. I am eternally grateful for the incredible experiences, knowledge, and personal connections I accumulated at Fort Lewis. I can truly say that I would not be where I am today without the expert instruction and patience of my instructors at Fort Lewis College. Once I receive my PhD, I hope to find a job teaching somewhere like FLC, so that I can bring my experiences to a new generation of young and budding anthropologists, the same way they were brought to me.