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I am from a rural region of Southwestern Virginia where I grew up with my brother surrounded by farms and mountains. Much of my life has been organized around integrating the knowledge and phenomena of this remote upbringing with both my experience in higher education and among tribal communities in the US and the Pacific. 

Early in my college career, I was fortunate to be taught by David Graeber. He opened up the possibilities that arise when one combines the freedom of thought of academic anthropology with the existential openness of lived anthropology. Although I spent many years in universities, this was the first major watershed for my adult life. I miss him dearly.

After college, I spent much of the next decade working with Indigenous communities in The Philippines, Indonesia and North America. My first experience in the region and with fieldwork was among Muslim groups on the islands of Mindanao and Sulu. While working with such agrarian and maritime communities, I did my MA in religion and society followed by a PhD in environmental and cultural anthropology. Under the mentorship of Steve Lansing, I learned how, by combining multiple empirical modalities in research, one clarifies and augments the knowledge that emerges. He was the next major influence in my academic life and is responsible for launching me into the process of expanding while also refining methods in the social sciences.

As a Potawatomi Indian and scholar, I have tried to ensure the health of the cultures that supported and enriched my life. My brother and I were the only members of our community to attend college and in some sense raised by universities and our tribe. This is one reason why I am active in tribal rights as well as the defense of universities as unique institutions in society. Moreover, I have tried to balance these two cultures by attending to their unique perspectives while also focusing on how they combine to create what was once referred to as “humanity”.


Parang Bay, Sulu,
The Philippines

Academic Appointments


The University of Maryland, College Park

Assistant Professor


The University of Queensland

Lecturer (Assistant Professor)

2012 - 2013

The University of Alberta

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

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