Welcome to Ethnohistory 2018!

The 2018 annual meeting will take place in Oaxaca, Mexico on October 11-13. The Centro Cultural de San Pablo and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México are hosting the meeting, and the UCLA Latin American Institute and the UCLA American Indian Studies Center are organizing the program.

Call for Panel and Paper Proposals

The meeting will take place at the Hotel Victoria in Oaxaca City. The hotel is comfortable and inexpensive; there is an excellent hotel package for conference attendees.

Oaxaca is a beautiful city in southern Mexico surrounded by ancient monumental sites, including Monte Albán and Mitla, and many Indigenous communities. Oaxaca has one of the largest Indigenous populations of any state in Mexico. The city is safe and October is a pleasant time of year, after the rainy season. The conference will feature oragnized tours to nearby sites of interest, and cultural events in the evenings. There are many excellent restaurants, cafés, museums, bookstores, markets and shops in the city.

Flights from North America to Oaxaca are direct or involve a change of plane in Mexico City. Rolling submissions of proposals and acceptances will allow participants to plan in advance. Please note that it is important that participants take advantage of the hotel conference package and stay at the Hotel Victoria. Although there are many attractive hotels and B&Bs in Oaxaca, the special offer that the local organizers have secured for the conference hotel is contingent on occupying a certain number of rooms. Besides, it is a very convenient place to stay, as all the conference sessions will take place at the hotel. The Hotel Victoria has several meeting rooms, a large auditorium, a pool, a restaurant, and a bar.

This year, ASE membership requirements to participate in the conference will be waived for residents of Latin American nations, including Mexico.

More details about the conference in Oaxaca and special events will be posted in the coming weeks. Questions about the program can be directed to the program committee at ethnohistory@ucla.edu

Helen Hornbeck Tanner Graduate Student Paper Prizer Winners, 2017

Congratulations to the 2017 Helen Hornbeck Tanner Graduate Student Paper Prizes Winner!

First Prize: “Dividing Land and Defining Territory in Colonial K’iche’an Narratives” by Mallory Matsumoto, Brown University.

Second Prize: “Mythologizing the White Man’s Friend: Misrepresentation of Indian Leaders in the Writing of Chicago’s Origin Story,” by Aaron Luedke, Michigan State University.

Third Prize: “Going Beyond ‘The Beach’: In between Spaces of First Encounter in the Caribbean and Mesoamerica, 1492 – 1530,” by Claudia Rogers, University of Leeds, England.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

Congratulations to the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winners.  

The American Society of Ethnohistory plans to annually recognize the outstanding scholarship and contributions of our emeriti faculty, whose hard work and dedication to ASE, their outstanding scholarship, and their mentoring of young faculty have been crucial in establishing and maintaining our organization. Although we can never thank them sufficiently for their contributions we hope that recognizing them at our annual meeting will be a partial thank you for their hard work.

The 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award winners are:
Jennifer Brown

Robert Carmack

Theda Perdue

Neal Salisbury

Susan Schroeder

Erminie Wheeler-Voeglin Book Prize, 2017

Congratulations to James Brooks, the author of Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’ovi Massacre, published by W. W. Norton and Company, for winning the 2017 Erminie Wheeler Voeglin Book Prize.

The prize committee consisting of Laura Matthew, Jon Parmenter, and Justin Carroll, is please to award this year’s Erminie Wheeler-Voeglin prize for the best book of ethnohistory published in 2016 to Brooks’s painstaking, multidisciplinary inquiry into a difficult event in the Hopi past transports the reader across broad swaths of time, from the eleventh century to contemporary times. Seeking to explain a story whose ghosts trouble (and are troubled by) the present, Brooks analyzes written sources, indigenous oral tradition, ceramics, and human remains. His microhistory of a single, unoccupied site becomes a regional history in which the Hopi confront enduring questions of inclusion, exclusion, and how to define the limits of community in relation to outsiders. Mesa of Sorrows also brings the academy’s tradition of linear, past-to-present narrative into conversation with Hopi traditions of historical thinking. As he puts it, “What if our present were already active in our past? What if our present is nothing more than a past foretold?” (116). At the point where these two traditions meet, the site of Awat’ovi stands as a silent reminder and a warning of future cycles of destruction and rebirth, of difficult moments when the “twin forces of absorbing new neighbors and excluding aliens” (220) might once again come to a head. Finally, Mesa of Sorrows highlights the power and potential of the ethnohistorical method through its deft interplay of sources – textual and non-textual, archaeological and physical, remembered and obliquely glimpsed – and the critical eye it turns on the practice of ethnohistory itself. We congratulate Dr. Brooks on this fine achievement.



Michigan State University Press recently published a monograph by John M. Carroll, an Associate Professor at Indiana University East.  The book is about: “John Askin, a Scots-Irish migrant to North America, built his fur trade between the years 1758 and 1781 in the Great Lakes region of North America. His experience serves as a   vista from which to view important aspects of the British Empire in North America. The close interrelationship between trade and empire enabled Askin’s economic triumphs but also made him vulnerable to the consequences of imperial conflicts and mismanagement. The ephemeral, contested nature of British authority during the 1760s and 1770s created openings for men like Askin to develop a trade of smuggling liquor or to challenge the Hudson’s Bay Company’s monopoly over the fur trade, and allowed them to boast in front of British officers of having the “Key of Canada” in their pockets. How British officials responded to and even sanctioned such activities demonstrates the vital importance of trade and empire working in concert. Askin’s life’s work speaks to the collusive nature of the British Empire—its vital need for the North American merchants, officials, and Indigenous communities to establish effective accommodating relationships, transgress boundaries (real or imagined), and reject certain regulations in order to achieve the empire’s goals.”

For more information, please visit: http://msupress.org/books/book/?id=50-1D0-3FE5#.WfnvbVtSyUk

Please contact Dr. Susan Sleeper-Smith, if you’d like see your work highlighted here.

PUBLICATIONS OF INTEREST TO ETHNOHISTORIANS: Jennifer S. H. Brown, An Ethnohistorian in Rupert’s Land


Athabasca University Press’s forthcoming publication, An Ethnohistorian in Rupert’s Land, is a collection of investigations by Jennifer S. H. Brown into the surprising range of interactions among Indigenous people and newcomers in the ancient homeland of the Cree and Ojibwe people that came to be called Rupert’s Land. For four decades, Brown has examined the complex relationships that developed among the Algonquian communities and the missionaries, anthropologists, and others who found their way into Indigenous lives and territories.

More than an anthology, An Ethnohistorian in Rupert’s Land illustrates Brown’s exceptional skill in the close study of texts—including oral documents, images, artifacts, and other cultural expressions—and elucidates the scholarly evolution of one of the leading ethnohistorians in Canada and the United States.

For more information visit: http://aupress.ca/index.php/books/120267

Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order of January 27, 2017

The American Society for Ethnohistory (ASE) objects strongly to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order of January 27, 2017, issued purportedly to safeguard the country “from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” The broad-based international membership of our Society makes clear the significant and detrimental impact this order will have on thousands of innocent people, especially people housed in refugee camps across the world who have waited months, and sometimes years, for immigration interviews that have now been canceled. Furthermore, President Trump’s edict bars from entry travelers en route to the United States with valid visas or other pertinent documentation, especially students and academic colleagues, the very life-blood of our scholarly communities.

The ASE represents teachers and researchers who study and teach Indigenous histories; essential to our endeavor are on-going interactions with foreign colleagues and access to archives and conferences overseas. The executive order threatens global scholarly networks that our members have cultivated over decades. By establishing a religious test that favors Christians over Muslims from designated countries, this action jeopardizes the open exchange of ideas upon which all scholarship ultimately depends. It directly affects thousands of individuals currently studying in our universities and colleges, detracts from our ability to attract international students in the future, and undermines our ability to incorporate foreign born scholars in research activities of the utmost scientific caliber.

The ASE draws on the long standing Indigenous tradition of reaching out to people throughout the world who need our help and support. During the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s, more than a million people perished in Ireland when a blight decimated potato crops, the primary food source for almost half their population. The impoverished Choctaw Nation, shortly after being removed from their homelands and forced to walk the Trail Of Tears, scraped together $170 to send to Ireland to help feed starving people. Just when the Irish thought nobody cared, Native people from across the world reached out to lend a helping hand. A sculpture recently erected in Cork, Ireland pays tribute to the generosity of the Native American Choctaw. The ASE represents the global hand of friendship that reaches out to those refugees who are being thoughtlessly turned away by Trump’s executive order.

Sadly, President Trump issued his order on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when all Americans vividly recall the implications of such actions. America’s refusal to admit refugees during the 1930s denied entry to Jews and others fleeing Nazi Germany. Hostility toward a particular religious group combined with suspicions of disloyalty and potential subversion by supposed radicals slammed shut the door on millions of refugees. Many were subsequently murdered as part Nazi Germany’s “final solution” to the “Jewish question.” Many today who attempt to flee repressive regimes in the Mideast are condemned to similar fates.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If we are to honor these words, enshrined on our Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York harbor, we must ask President Trump to revoke his executive order immediately. We call upon him to respect, and continue, the American and Indigenous traditions of welcoming the oppressed to our caring midst.