By John van Willigen
SfAA Oral History Project, Chair
University of Kentucky
By Carla N. Littlefield
High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology
This transcript is based on a group interview of High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology (HPSfAA) leadership conducted by Pam Puntenney and John van Willigen, for the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) Oral History Project, on April 4 and 5, 2003 in Estes Park, Colorado. The composition of the group changes over the two sessions but includes Carla Littlefield, Art Campa, Peter Van Arsdale and Deward Walker as well as Puntenney and van Willigen. The text was edited by van Willigen. The introduction was prepared by Littlefield. The photos were provided by Emilia Gonzalez Clements.
HPSfAA began as a Regional Subsection of SfAA. An ad hoc committee chaired by Deward Walker met locally to lay the groundwork for this new regional organization. Other committee members included Gottfried Lang, Omer Stewart, Jack Schultz, Julie Uhlmann, Peter Van Arsdale, and Michael Higgins. At the Annual Meeting of the SfAA in Denver on March 22, 1980, the ad hoc planning committee convened an organizational meeting. The turnout was enthusiastic, drawing many of the practicing anthropologists in the region. The decision was made to hold the first annual meeting in Boulder the following year. In February, 1981, the annual meeting participants approved the efforts of the ad hoc committee, approved bylaws, and elected officers: Gottfried Lang, Chairperson; Shirley Kurz-Jones, Vice Chairperson; Carla Littlefield, Secretary-Treasurer.
Within five years, the Regional Subsection of SfAA became the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. Peter Van Arsdale launched a Newsletter that morphed quickly into a Bulletin with refereed articles. This publication soon evolved into a referred journal, the High Plains Applied Anthropologist, now called The Applied Anthropologist. The success of HPSfAA may be attributed to myriad factors, many touched upon by those participating in the group interview that follows. A sense of community prevails with a healthy mix of academics and practitioners coming together from the broad geographical area east of the Rocky Mountains: Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. Regional anthropology departments continue to provide support so that faculty and students can attend meetings, both the annual meeting in the spring and the fall retreat held at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. At these meetings, members get renewed, share ideas, and confirm their commitment to community. HPSfAA welcomes students as full-fledged members; a student representative is a voting member of the Board of Directors. HPSfAA maintains mutually supportive relationships with both SfAA and NAPA. Finally, the community includes a core of committed members who have consistently taken on responsibilities and roles of leadership when called upon. The discussion that follows reflects the ongoing dedication of these leaders to maintaining the vision of HPSfAA’s founders. More can be learned at their website, http://www.hpsfaa.org/.
LITTLEFIELD: The first annual meeting was held at the Hilton Harvest House in 1981 in Boulder, and that’s where we elected all of our officers. Friedl [Gottfried] Lang was elected chairperson, and I was secretary treasurer; member at large was Peter Morley, member at large, Robert Hill, another member at large, Ruth Kornfield. I was the original or the initiating secretary treasurer of the High Plains, and I assumed that role after the election that was held in 1981. It was a very successful meeting.
CAMPA: I remember that there were some very exciting times going on there as the graduate students were doing a lot of the background organizational meeting and getting all the procedures done for the annual meeting: rental of rooms and getting the material set and getting people in—I got pulled in there; I was made to go in there on a promise that yes, I’ll be there, I’ll be one of the bodies that will show up. And I recall that it was an exciting time because a lot of people really wanted to get together and to talk about their various subjects, but I think it was just the inspiration in getting a lot of applied anthropologists and other people in the social science fields together; so I remember, it was exciting. We had a great time at the cocktail party that was going on then. It was very animated, I must say. And I had just, let’s see, I had graduated a year before that, so I remember that. I was going in not as a graduate student but as a participant without a job at the time. So at any rate, it was exciting, people were looking forward to doing things in the future. The fact that we were all assembling in this meeting, I think was really an exciting thing. I do remember there was a lot of positive energy going on at the time. There must have been at least thirty-five, forty people or more there.
PUNTENNEY: John [van Willigen], he sees us as a regional practitioner organization, which makes sense because that’s the way SfAA had originally set that up. How far away did people come from?
CAMPA: It was mostly local from the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Denver, perhaps as far as the University in Northern Colorado in Greeley, perhaps Colorado State University at Fort Collins. It was a Colorado thing initially. So, there were enough people to stir up that kind of interest and participation. [It was] rather ironic to have an applied organization; we came out of the school, the University of Colorado, that was not very supportive of applied activities, as I recall. It was Deward [Walker] and Friedl [Lang] and Hack, [Robert] Hackenberg was there, or was he not?
LITTLEFIELD: I think he was there but I’m not sure [Hackenberg] was that involved with applied.
CAMPA: No, he wasn’t. So it was Deward Walker, it was Friedl Lang, Michael Higgins from the University of Northern Colorado, and those were the main participants at that time. [Sylvester] Bus Lahren was one. He and I were buddies at the time. He had been in Montana at that time, so he wasn’t directly involved in that initial meeting. Peter Van Arsdale, of course, was there. He’s been connected with the University of Denver for eons, I think, and let’s see, who else? Ken Keller was there too. Ken and I went to school together.
LITTLEFIELD: Deward [Walker] could talk about all the advance that led up to this very first meeting that we had in 1981, because Deward was the chair of this SfAA group that was deliberating whether or not regional sections should be formed, or whether we should focus on accreditation or whatever issue we wanted to, so Deward could obviously address that. But it was an excellent meeting, and following that meeting then, what I remember is, that we had board meetings at Friedl’s house for that entire year after that, and it was so exciting because I was getting ready to graduate, and then I did graduate. But to go back and have meetings then with, with Shirley Jones, the president elect, and Peter Morley and Robert Hill and Ruth Kornfield and whoever else wanted to come to the board meetings. The Langs were so hospitable and we met in their living room.
CAMPA: We had good times there. I remember it was a very warm family to be with.
LITTLEFIELD: And then the following year we went back to the Hilton Harvest House and had our, our second annual meeting. In the meantime, Peter Van Arsdale became the editor of our first newsletter. He got that going in 1981, after the Harvest House annual meeting. He planned our second annual meeting at the Hilton Harvest House. We published highlights—oh we were so sophisticated! Our highlights! And we had people submit summaries of their papers. I think I still have a copy of that in the archives, the highlights of our second annual meeting.
PUNTENNEY: Were those the seeds then for which eventually the newsletter grew into the journal?
CAMPA: And then a separate newsletter began again, then.
PUNTENNEY: It sounds like you all were kind of thinking in a journal-type format. It struck me when I first got to know you all in 1990, when NAPA held the board meeting in conjunction with the High Plains Society annual meeting, that in the early days, you all started with fairly high standards for this particular organization.
LITTLEFIELD: We did.
CAMPA: I think what contributed to that is that Deward was the editor of the Human Organization for SfAA and I recall—I worked with him because I used to do the translations into Spanish for the abstracts—so I remember Deward was working with another journal. And I think from those skills and experience acquired in, he then transferred them to our section at that time, that regional section of SfAA as we were known in those early days of the eighties. So I think that was a natural transition for Deward.
LITTLEFIELD: I think Peter deserves a lot of credit for the quality of that first newsletter, because he had some articles in it. I think it was also peer reviewed—the articles were peer reviewed for the newsletter…
LITTLEFIELD: …if you can imagine, oh yes! Peter had extremely high standards, and when you interview him for this, make sure that you get some of the early history of the newsletter. But we started that newsletter up and in 1981. Then we had our second annual meeting in 1982 at the Hilton Harvest House, and after that we published highlights. And then our third annual meeting, we went to Denver, we met at the Holiday Inn, and after that, we published proceedings, not highlights, but proceedings, and I have indicated, at least in some of my milestones, that at that point we did elevate the newsletter to a bulletin with refereed articles. So it wasn’t that the newsletter had refereed articles, but when we called it a bulletin—and again this was Peter—it definitely had a very high quality to it. After 1983, our next annual meeting was at Auraria, and I was so impressed because Ted Downing, the current president at that time of SfAA, came to our annual meeting. And I have told the SfAA people that they have no idea of the status and the confirmation that it gives an organization to have the president of the, of the major organization come and speak, and Ted was just so personable. I just found that to be so stimulating to have Ted there and, and to listen to him at that Auraria meeting, and you were probably involved in the organization of that meeting. [Editor: Auraria is located near downtown Denver and serves as a joint campus for a number of public universities.]
CAMPA: I recall that meeting because I began organizing it in September, and the way I did it was to appoint chairs of different sections for the meeting and said, all right, you take the responsibility of doing it. I remember calling Reed Riner at Flagstaff about colleagues and, if I recall correctly, that’s how we got connected partly with Ted Downing.
LITTLEFIELD: Right, so is that because Reed was president of our society?
PUNTENNEY: Reed took over presidency in 1983.
LITTLEFIELD: In 1984 we had had our fourth annual meeting which was held at the Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver, and the fact that Ted Downing had given the keynote address, and I’ve already spoken to how stimulating it was for the High Plains to have the President of SfAA come and join us. But I thought now that, since Peter is here, both Art Campa and I had eluded to the high standards of our newsletter and how Peter Van Arsdale had even raised it to a new level of being a bulletin with refereed articles the previous year, in 1983. I would really like to have [Peter] address the newsletter, and how he was able to create a wonderful communication vehicle for our organization.
VAN ARSDALE: I was aided in the creation by several folks, and I took many ideas from many good folks. If I recall, I might well have gotten ideas from you Carla, from Art, from Friedl, from Michael Higgins. I know at that point in time [David J.] Dave Stephenson [Jr.] gave me several inspiring ideas as did Larry Van Horn and Deward Walker. Those are particularly several people that I got ideas from, not only to found the newsletter in eighty-one. Pam Puntenney’s earlier point about regional and working regionally is quite correct, because even then the newsletter, I recall very clearly, was founded on a regional basis. We didn’t even use the phrase LPO, for example, with the newsletter. We talked about it as a regional organ for a group which, at that time, had Society for Applied Anthropology ties. So in that sense, we also felt with it as regional. In those two years, from 1981 to 1983, we increasingly moved from a media that was newsy and notesy, telling about what people were doing and what was coming up with the various conferences and what not, to one where we had short articles and then eventually articles. In the last issue I edited—because that was part of my dream, to help me get to that point before my tour of editor expired, to have peer reviewed articles—so the very last issue that I edited, which had the first peer reviewed and that was a stepping stone to later expansion of the bulletin and then eventually expansion of our nice journal, was written, and it was on the topic of a native American fisheries and environmental work, as I recall. And our peer reviewer was our own Omer Stewart. Now I think that is most exciting to know that he was the first peer reviewer for the first peer reviewed article, the last issue that I was editor.
LITTLEFIELD: That was a very exciting time for us. I think we recognized in the fall of 1984 that we needed to have a retreat, and it was the very first retreat we had, and I got some funny memories of that. We went to the Broken Arrow Ranch—I remember driving over there with you, Peter. And I think we drove on some cliff hanger of a road to get there. But anyhow, we all found the Broken Arrow Ranch, and that was a retreat held by the board, but we invited anybody else who wanted to come so that we could talk about the future of High Plains.
LITTLEFIELD: Peter, which year—or maybe Art knows this too because I can’t remember—in what year did SfAA spin us off? Because my own milestones indicated that we did change our name in 1985 to the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology, and we developed our own by-laws, and at that point then, we began just an affiliation with SfAA. We began an affiliation with SfAA in nineteen eighty-five.
VAN ARSDALE: I believe that’s when we spun off and became separate. Affiliated…but separate. I believe it was eighty-five. But it was about that time that we were both enhanced further by SfAA and feeling a little bit constrained by SfAA, in terms of what we could and could not do. My take, and my memory is that, about that time, we realized that we would be under their umbrella. We had been, and that can help us get going, and that are also certain constraints by being under their umbrella, for example, the sorts of things we do, not do, publish, not publish, get their say so, not get their say so, and it was my memory of it. We thanked them greatly and caused us to go on our own.
LITTLEFIELD: There was some kind of an IRS ruling though, that I think required that SfAA spin us off…
CAMPA: I’ve heard Deward articulate the fact is that the IRS made that ruling so we had to divest ourselves of any official connection as a subsection, so therefore we became independent after that. We still had more of an informal, professional relationship with SfAA, but we didn’t have the official relation that we had prior to that as a subsection.
VAN ARSDALE: I think we were excited about the spin off though. My sense is we were excited about it. Not as if it was some ominous thing. We wanted to have more freedom.
LITTLEFIELD: I think we were ready for it. And there also seems to me that it was about that same time that we realized that we didn’t necessarily have to follow the model that SfAA and the AAA had. We didn’t have to have our annual meetings at hotels. Art came up with the idea, why don’t we go to the Bethlehem Center, go to a rural location which would be informal, get away from the hotel? And Art, you ought to talk about the Bethlehem Center.
CAMPA: The Bethlehem Center was a retreat run by the Bethlehem fathers. At that time was in rural Northglenn [Colorado]. [It is] no longer. It’s been swallowed up by the city. And the reason we used it at that time is that it was relatively inexpensive. They would offer some type of a retreat setting so that people couldn’t wander off to go shopping and do other things, and it was a very homey atmosphere. It was kind of like the barracks building thing, but nevertheless the cost was minimal compared to the hotels. I thought it would be a good, inexpensive retreat given our limited modest resources at the time, so I think it worked out well for quite a number of years.
LITTLEFIELD: We had our annual meetings there for several years, and we even planted a tree before we left there.
LITTLEFIELD: That was a big year for us, 1985. I’m noticing that we had changed our name then to the High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology. We changed the name of the journal to the High Plains Applied Anthropologist. We published our first membership directory; we never have had one like that since. It was a wonderful directory.
CAMPA & VAN ARSDALE: Yes.
LITTLEFIELD: [In] 1987 we held our, our annual meeting jointly with the Rocky Mountain Futurists. Reed Riner was very interested in that.
CAMPA: Reed helped promote that.
LITTLEFIELD: I think we had a very broad orientation and we were very accepting of anyone who had had an anthropological orientation to whatever it was that they were doing.
CAMPA: Like we made it real clear they did not have to be just a friend or interested.
LITTLEFIELD: [In] 1988 we applied for IRS 501 (c3), tax exempt status. I thought it was going to be a horrendous application process, and it was so simple. It seems to me that we had it within two months or three months of my submitting the application to the IRS.
VAN ARSDALE: But to your credit, Carla, you were the person who took the lead on that. You did submit it and you got us to that point as a non-profit—a formalized non-profit; that was important.
LITTLEFIELD: I didn’t know how or why we really needed it, but the board kept encouraging me to apply for it. We got it, and I’m not even so sure that we’ve really maximized the benefits of being a 501 (c3) since we’ve gotten it. In other words, you know, it seems to me that maybe through the years we should have been applying for grants from foundations or grants from government agencies, and maybe at the time that we got our 501 (c3), maybe we thought that maybe High Plains could be an umbrella for some of our members who might want to make applications. It’s hard for me to reconstruct really what our motivation was for getting it at the time, and I’m not even sure to this day that we have maximized the opportunities that being a 501 (c3) do offer our organization. We’ll see, we may indeed benefit in the future from it.
Maybe we can mention who our presidents were at that time, following Friedl [Gottfried] Lang. In 1983, Reed Riner was our president. In 1985, Peter Morley took over for a two-year term; in 1987 Ken Keller took over, and then 1989 Art Campa was our president. We actually, in 1990, we started our, our newsletter, our first newsletter had metamorphosed into a journal.
CAMPA: Well I took over editorship, I believe about that time, 1990, and continued for what? Another ten-eleven years.
VAN ARSDALE: Yes, you were at least a decade.
CAMPA: During that time. And the emphasis, what I was trying to do is always for the lead article, to something out just human interest, and we got quite a variety. I think, I think you wrote an article, did you?
VAN ARSDALE: Several!
CAMPA: Yes, several for that. We had, remember Bitten Skartvedt who wrote the experience of eating Chili that time which [chuckle] I think was quite funny? And I would try to get something of interest or try to find somebody who would be willing it. My usual tactic was to commit about two or three people knowing that at least one of them would produce.
CAMPA: I remember that formula I usually had to do, but it was just getting news, and then regional news, or membership participation activities or grants or scholarships or some type of teaching, whatever it was of interest. So it was a variety of things, and at that time, I had my step daughter who was quite adept at the computer graphics to get things so we could get it organized. And I think we used different types of software we experimented with, but it was getting more and more streamlined and easier to do as the computer software and the hardware improved through the years.
LITTLEFIELD: I have many of your newsletters in our archives.
CAMPA: I did keep a collection of the newsletters, in fact, Deward Walker has a collection, [and] has Xeroxed all my collections or took the extra that I had. It was a lot of fun I think in many times. Near the end of the nineties, I remember, there were a lot of difficulties because there were increasing demands in the job, although I did have the gracious support originally from the University of Colorado up to 1993. And then when I transferred to Metro, we were able to use the postage through the Dean’s office of LAS Letters Arts and Sciences and continued publishing and usually would get volunteers or just pay people off our grant money to help us with it.
LITTLEFIELD: Our academic connections were very critical in assisting us financially.
VAN ARSDALE: I believe, again, we like to name names as we are doing this historic remembrance in institutional enhancement here, while giving a wide range of people credit, I believe in particular, the institutionally connected people who deserve much of the credit over a long period. Many people contributed in the shorter ways, so I hope I’m not omitting our people, including Art Campa, Deward Walker, Friedl Lang, earlier on when he had that institutional connection helping me. Several others, but I think those folks in particular, Deward, Art, Friedl, deserve a lot of the credit for the longer standing institutional connections we’ve had through CU and Metro.
LITTLEFIELD: I think that Ken [Keller] with his Auraria connections was very helpful, perhaps not to the degree of the people that you just mentioned, but I know that Ken, in a very quiet way, has provided some resources for us. He has been very helpful.
VAN ARSDALE: So, at the Auraria campus, Ken particularly was good at in sponsoring mini meetings and mini seminars. I attended at least three mini seminars or celebratory events. One was even more like a birthday party for key people who were applied anthropologists, sponsored by Metro and organized by Ken during that period of time. They were High Plains events but not, you know, seminar events—not seminal scientific events. They were more collegial events.
PUNTENNEY: That’s really important to bring [university support] forward here, because in the discussions with LPOs over the years, it seems to be this contentious notion, and I need to say reality, notion about whether they should or shouldn’t be involved. Should you have these relationships so, huh-huh, hands off, and I think this has been really insightful because it’s actually been part of the strength, the backbone of this organization. The story is similar with the others that have managed to stay strong over the years over the long haul.
CAMPA: I think one of the things I’ve learned through the years, since I had a quite a number of adult education, non-traditional programs and other such related things, was community networking became an essential part, where you would be linking up resources of your academic institution with community resources, and in my case, state wide. I had satellites all over the state and it was a constant: having to meet with organizations to maintain the personal ties, to maintain those relationships because we needed those resources to make our programs work, and of course the Feds also made it a requirement for your programs to have all these formal linkages, so we had to formalize what we had begun informally. And I think many times when we thought of doing things, I would remember talking to Ken, let’s get so-and-so to do this part, let’s get this institution to do this, and just naturally went out, you know, to get these linkages and to bribe because that’s how you do things to get things done, in a kind of communal sense.
LITTLEFIELD: Was there any high point in your presidency that you can think back on? That period of eighty-nine and ninety?
CAMPA: I’m trying to think of the high points. I think that we came up with the idea at the time of having co-sponsorship and having two people involved in the organization of, let’s see, I was trying to think of the meetings. That’s when Jose Cintron and I co-sponsored the meeting. We were thinking, why don’t we have two of us do it instead of just one? And I remember that, let’s see, getting those meetings established, we were able to bring some outside people in. I remember we brought Henry Trueba who was an educator in bilingual education of national stature. I think he’s now vice president to one of the big universities back East, so we were bringing him in. I remember specially trying to think out how can we encourage these people to come out and give them some kind of a stipend, and we went scrambling around for stipends I remember. We were able to get something out of CU; Ken was able to get something out of Auraria, and we got some third connection indirectly through grant moneys, I don’t want to say laundered. We were able to bring this person in. We also got, who is the educational anthropologist?
VAN ARSDALE: Was it George Spindler?
CAMPA: We got him to do a session with us—that was, again, through Henry because he is a personal friend of George Spindler. I remember he did a presentation—what was it? Well anyways I just remember because of the fact to Jose and, and his mentor at UC Santa Barbara that we began to make other contacts and get people involved. And we were trying to, during that time, to get more people of color involved, we tried to get some Latinos involved.
VAN ARSDALE: You, to your credit Art, were one of the leaders in enhancing us ethnically in that regard membership-wise. You deserve a great deal of credit for that.
CAMPA: Well we tried; I don’t know if we really brought in a lot of people.
VAN ARSDALE: Well you started articulating it in a very collegial way. You were the first person to do that more openly. I mean all of us thought about it, but you started to talk about it in a collegial but more dynamic way, that was an important point.
CAMPA: And I remember trying, twisting the arms of a number of my professional colleagues to get involved. I don’t know how successful that was.
LITTLEFIELD: Well I followed you as president and it was during my first couple of months as president that Mary Granica came up with the idea of going down to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. She’d heard about Ghost Ranch, and I have to admit, that that was one of the best ideas that emerged from my presidency, in ninety-one and ninety-two, was establishing that fall retreat at Ghost Ranch. [While] we were having an annual meeting every year at the Bethlehem Center, our group never met monthly. Some LPOs do try to meet on a monthly basis, but our membership was so far flung that it seemed much more appropriate for us to have an annual meeting and possibly a retreat. I remember at that first retreat that we had at Ghost Ranch, Peter talked with us about strategic planning, and it was, I think, the first time that High Plains as an organization really looked at planning as an issue that was important to get into.
VAN ARSDALE: 1991 in particular as the Ghost Ranch phenomena emerged—it wasn’t just a notion of a retreat place, it was more like a phenomena that would enable us to enhance our capabilities as an organization. As that started to emerge, under Mary Granica’s idea, Carla’s leadership, I myself at that time had just been elected president elect, so I was working with Carla. We also had, strategic planning-wise, the notion that the president elect, while continuing his or her role as membership chair and sort of membership guru for the organization, would also then become Ghost Ranch, at least initially, strategic planner for the meeting, logistics planner for the meeting, and possibly even help facilitate strategic planning sessions should they be held at Ghost Ranch and they often have been, not always.
CAMPA: During the 1990 NAPA board meeting in Washington, DC, the SfAA meeting was noted that was going to be in York, England, and since a lot of the board members at that time could not attend, or because of the financial cost, I suggested, why don’t you take the meeting to the High Plains Society meetings back in Colorado? And I think that the idea was well accepted, and it did emerge as something that was done. So we did hold the mid-year meeting, I guess you’d say wait, because the AAA is, is the main meeting and then the meeting of the SfAA. We held it at the High Plains Society, and I think it went over very well, and it also snared a number or present day members including Pam Puntenney. Shirley Fiske was a member for quite a while and some other individuals as well, if I believe, but I thought it was an interesting way of bringing more people in, specially from WAPA.
VAN ARSDALE: The [1990 meeting], it was a seminal meeting, it was a type of watershed meeting, and our other friends can share too. But, not only did it commemorate the tenth anniversary of our organization, but it did many other things: it further reaffirmed, and I think appreciated, the role that the Catholic fathers at the Bethlehem Center had played in promoting our meetings there for those many years, because we weren’t going to be there much longer. And we had several, I recall, very nice interchanges with the various priests, such had to have been so collegial to us over the years. We had an important event involving Omer Stewart, which perhaps Deward would like to comment on, in terms of the tree planting ceremony and associated ritual. And then the other thing, in addition to introducing the newsletter, the new newsletter which is continued on to the present day, my original newsletter that I began editing years before is what evolved into ‘The Bulletin,’ and then ‘The Bulletin’ evolved into our journal. In addition to that, I would say too, that maybe that was, at least for me, a watershed in that we’d reached some degree of maturity. Maybe in eighty-four we had reached rich adolescence, but by ninety, I felt that our society had reached a sort of an adult stage.
LITTLEFIELD: I agree. I don’t know what else needs to be said about that meeting. What are your recollections Deward?
VAN ARSDALE: We want you to share [concerning the tree].
WALKER: Oh okay! Well we thought that something symbolic would help at that meeting, and we happened to just stop by and buy a tree, and we happened to bring it out and we asked the fathers if we could plant a tree, as part of the ceremony, and our tenth anniversary and Omer was there. Anyway we got Omer together, and Omer did his peyote song for the tree, if you remember. Then we did a blessing in which we cast dirt to the four directions. Ken Keller said, “Oh Deward, you’re not much of a ritualist.” He wasn’t impressed with my little ritual. In my defense, I went out there about what, two or three years ago now and took a picture of myself in front of the tree. I was proud of that tree. The tree had has grown as we have grown.
VAN ARSDALE: [Laughter]
WALKER: That’s a symbolism.
WALKER: And as far as I know, unless they sell that to a sub-developer, you know, the tree’s probably safe yet, but we need to check that tree occasionally. I think it’s an elm. I’m not sure we could find an oak. You know, that was the choice; they grow fast. Anyway, that tree was both the celebration of our past and a kind of promise for the future, and I think it’s still doing okay, like we are, how’s that?
LITTLEFIELD: Excellent. So the other reason at the meeting then was the connection with NAPA, and are you going to talk about that Pam?
PUNTENNEY: Well we had decided, as Art Campa had mentioned before, we had decided at the NAPA board meeting that, since SfAA was holding their international meeting in York, England, and many of the NAPA board members would not be able to attend, that in order to hold our spring board meeting, that we needed a place to do it. And Art Campa had suggested and offered High Plains at the time he was president, and at the board meeting we agreed that that was a good idea. And so we held our board meet in, meeting in conjunction with the High Plains Society.
VAN ARSDALE: That’s important too, because, for example, that’s the first time that some of us met Pam, or got to know people like Pam and Shirley Fiske and others.
VAN ARSDALE: I think another watershed, if I might comment—this is more personal, but I give Pam and our other friends credit for this—those of us who’d been active in SfAA and in the High Plains, and in the AAA, some were hesitant about NAPA, knowing less about NAPA, wondering about that traditional split or tension that had occurred or claimed to have occurred between NAPA and SfAA and or AAA; so it was thanks to Pam, Shirley, and a couple of other folks who were there who allayed those fears. Who pointed out the collegial relationship that was going to develop and believe that it has, believe me in the years to come it indeed has developed, and that we shouldn’t be hesitant about connecting with NAPA. We should do both SfAA and NAPA or all three, SfAA, High Plains, and NAPA, and indeed many of us in after that point did and have!
WALKER: There’s another facet to that. I remember Art, and I’m not sure where it came from, but Art Campa seemed suspicious of SfAA at that time.
VAN ARSDALE: At the other extreme, yes, about SfAA, that’s right.
WALKER: You remember that.
VAN ARSDALE: I do! It ran both ways.
WALKER: You might want to comment on that.
VAN ARSDALE: Well, just that some people thought, I don’t want to say untoward activity, but some, you know, mischievous or even just tension provoking activity that was there. In my perception of it Deward, something that might attract a member one way or pull him another, you know, and there might some competition, some untoward competition of some sort.
WALKER: There was also [the] academic/practitioners division that was in some people’s mind, that NAPA was more practitioner and SfAA was more academic, and I think this concerned some of the—particularly the practitioners, I heard more about that then.
VAN WILLIGEN: My feeling is that people realized that they couldn’t afford that. After awhile they had to paper over the contrast in a public venue even though it is still important. I think folks have set it aside early on.
WALKER: They seemed to go away!
VAN ARSDALE: Right, it resolved. Just this aside though, in more recent years such things as public anthropology have surfaced as topics of interest. What I’m glad to say is, at least in my view, it hasn’t done the—for example, the discussion around public anthropology hasn’t been one that pitted NAPA against SfAA or any of the LPOs or, RPOs against other groups.
WALKER: Well, John and I were talking about that coming across the parking lot just now, and my impression is, as I think I would agree with John, if I can quote you, more or less accurately, that public anthropology is for someone who wants to do applied work but doesn’t want to be called an applied anthropologist—that we’ve seen the adoption of public anthropology as a way of excusing peoples involved in applied work without their or being called applied. One of the problems, I ran into in our department at Boulder, our current chairman Darna [Dufour] cited. [Jim Peacock, the AAA president] referred to her at one point when she was becoming the chairman, that there’d been a stigma about applied, and somehow that stuck in my mind and during our last program review we ran into that, in which the outside committee came and reviewed our program and suggested that applied seemed to be a strong part and we should be moving in that direction rather quickly. Some of the faculty felt that applied was not the direction we wanted to go, so even though we had obvious strengths and an obvious historic record. People have been influenced by this prejudice that exists, and, I think we’d be remiss in not at least mentioning that in passing, because it hasn’t entirely gone away. And the use of public anthropology for applied work and applied involvements is another reflection of that on-going problem of perception.
VAN ARSDALE: And my point would be—and I agree with your point and John’s—and my point is that that, in my view hasn’t wrought NAPA asunder, wrought the High Plains Society’s asunder, wrought SfAA’s asunder, we’ve had different views, different prejudices.
WALKER: I mentioned to John coming over that I thought that the issue of public anthropology, applied anthropology, practicing anthropology needs to be revisited, and that we need to really define how we’re using these words and what those words mean organizationally. In one sense I think, even though it seems a little manipulative on the part of some of our colleagues in anthropology to call what they’re doing public rather than applied, that in fact, that they must do applied, is something we can take encouragement from.
VAN WILLIGEN: Right.
WALKER: And that increasingly, while they may call it anything they want, a rose is still a rose, and a rose smells sweetly by any other name, and I think applied is applied, and they can call it anything they like. The fact that they are moving into it, calling it public and engaging in it, although I think those call for some analysis by especially leaders of our societies at this time because students are a little confused. I think students are being somewhat misled about what public is versus what applied is, versus what practicing is, and so on. [Marietta] Baba, in her presentation to us that time tried to distinguish between academic and non-academic showing the overlap.
VAN ARSDALE: It was a seminal article.
VAN WILLIGEN: Wonderful!
VAN ARSDALE: She also reiterated the point that practicing anthropologists, applied anthropologists, are as interested in theory as anyone. And that we don’t have to say that there’s some kind of artificial divide between theorists and non-theorists I mean she was trying to show how we bridge and learn and share.
VAN WILLIGEN: The way I’ve always seen it is that as new specializations emerge, there is a tendency for people to want to distinguish those; and then they contrast what they do with something else. But the applied, and usually it’s applied anthropology, and they mischaracterize the applied anthropology in the process of defining it, and then, because there’s ultimately shared interest, professionally, they tend to merge. So all of the sudden there’ll be sessions on public anthropology in applied anthropology settings.
VAN WILLIGEN: Of something because there is this feeling of association and a functional…
WALKER: Mm-mm, kinship.
VAN WILLIGEN: You know, so all these specializations in the anthropology started out, virtually all of them, all of them I can think of, started out with a period where they said “what we do is not applied anthropology.” That you can point to, culture brokerage, research and development anthropology, action anthropology, and so on—they’re all different now. And so it’s typical, it’s a strategy, a kind of an evolutionary strategy as much as anything. When it’s happening, you know, all, I got this quote from, it was from an email, from Merrill Singer and it was like very negative about public anthropology and it was sort of like, they want to, by using this name escape the problems of the stigma associated with application. And so he argued that they’re trying to create something like a class system.
PUNTENNEY: I think the original ideas came from Skip Rappaport’s work and he posed it as a public engagement of anthropology trying to encourage the discipline to go back to where it was before, very actively engaging in the real world like Margaret Mead. We don’t have a public intellectual right now. He did a beautiful job in terms of the discipline in providing a profound theory of applied anthrop[ology], if you want to call applied anthropology, this re-engagement of the discipline with the real world. It’s a superb piece. Where I think it goes wrong, is this habit of distinguishing and creating false entities and contrasting them, and one thing I’ve noticed is hardly any two people are doing the same thing and we’re losing a tremendous amount of wealth of data about who we are. And for example in 1990, Shirley Fiske did a survey of NAPA’s membership. There were seven people out of the eight hundred and fifty people that would—you could put in a pile and say for sure they were academics. And all the categories that we put people into, there were very few people that actually did the same thing, it was amazing how diverse we are, and we are losing that in our discussions, by distinguishing between what practicing is, what applied is. We’re creating false dichotomies here and we are missing the importance of what’s really going on and happening in terms of methodologies, what that looks like and how we can do it better, in our work whether you’re developing theory, or you’re consulting with particular organizations.
LITTLEFIELD: Can I interject a comment! Just getting it back to High Plains for a second, Deward was one of the most important figures, I think, in our organization to recognize that members of High Plains could be models for students. You talk about, what did students know about applied, where were they going to learn about it? Deward said, students are going to learn about applied anthropology by being placed with applied anthropologists, watching what they do, learning what the process is. So High Plains then became the reservoir of role models for Deward’s students which I thought was a stature building process for the organization too, that somebody respected us and our members highly enough to use us as role models. Also Deward pulled us in 1991 into meetings with Michael Breed who at that time was the acting chair of the CU Anthropology program.
LITTLEFIELD: And Deward wanted High Plains as an organization to be supportive in Deward’s efforts to get an applied program established at CU Boulder, and Peter, you were involved in . . .
PUNTENNEY: I was going to say the next milestone that we want to talk about the Omer Stewart award.
LITTLEFIELD: Omer Stewart award? Well actually in 1992 we met for the very last time at the Bethlehem Center and, of course we’ve already mentioned then that we went to Ghost Ranch in the fall. But that year Omer Stewart died. He was one of our founders, and the following year, and I think it was Deward who came up with this idea, he said we really need an annual award that can be presented for distinguished service in the applied anthropology area. And Deward suggested that we name the award the Omer Stewart award and…we looked at the field and figured out, actually selected, Muriel Crespi who was senior anthropologist with the National Parks Service. We selected her as our first recipient of that award and our meeting that year was held at the Denver Museum of Natural History.
LITTLEFIELD: So did you want to talk about the Omer Stewart award?
WALKER: Well, actually I had some discussions with Richard Stoffle, whom I would like to give some credit to, in that he thought that we should have an award, and Omer’s name naturally came up. He was very fond of, and connected with Omer. It was about the time Omer had passed on so, his name came up. I guess were particularly interactive with Larry Van Horn and Dave [David E.] Ruppert from the Park Service at that time and Muriel Crespi was their superior. [Crespi] was attempting to introduce ethnography into the federal agencies broadly and did so at the Park Service and has had some success in that throughout several federal agencies since. We awarded her the Omer Stewart award at the museum at that dinner that night in Denver, and I was somewhat amused. We said we are pleased to give you this award in recognition of your achievements in introducing applied into the federal establishment, and especially ethnography in the Park Service. And she said, well, you know, I really have never met Omer and I’m very embarrassed. She was very [chuckle] very embarrassed by the fact that she hadn’t ever met Omer, but we said that’s okay he is with us here.
VAN ARSDALE: [Laughter]
WALKER: You don’t see him but he is here and he is perfectly okay with you receiving the award. Do you want to mention that the family has increasingly continued to support the Omer Stewart award? Lenore [Stewart] has now given a thousand dollars this past week to the Society to maintain the Omer Stewart award and has pledged the royalties from his last two books, the Forgotten Fires that just came out on Burning of North America by Native Americans of the Forest and the Grasslands. And on the Peyote book, both of which are Oklahoma books. The Peyote book will be the first to generate royalties, but it will be a continuing subvention of the award, and then as the Fires book gets discovered that will come online. And we are now formalizing an agreement, and the family, Steve, his son is here, and Lenore who is now ninety-two, they credit with the decision of giving the money. She’s been up here two or three times when we’ve given the award, and so the family is, is very, very happy that we have done this and they’re very much behind us and that’s about all I have to offer, except that I think it’s a very significant award.
LITTLEFIELD: I would like to reinforce the significance of the award because it is talked about at SfAA in the board meeting and other meeting of regents and the same thing at AAA. And for a small LPO out here that it’s amazing. The standards have been set high in this organization.
WALKER: We have a list of the awardees that goes in the journal from time to time.
And we do publish the award-winning lecture, every year we try to publish the Omer Stewart awardee’s presentation.
WALKER: I’m going to start out with a little personal biographical note because that’s what led to some of what later occurred. When I came to Boulder in 1969, I think it was about. It would be anyway, it’s in seventy-one or two that the meeting in Boulder, Charles Hughes was the president of the [SfAA] at the time. They had a head of the search committee, that Tom Weaver was on it, and I think Clifford Barnett from Stanford was on it, and Omer was there, and they were looking for an editor to succeed Marion Pearsall. So they got together and…
VAN ARSDALE: This is for the Human Organization publication?
WALKER: Yes, for HO, and so Omer said, come over here Deward [chuckle], and I knew something serious was about to happen. So, he took me in the back room with Cliff Barnett and Tom Weaver and some others. Nancy Gonzales was there, and of course Marion was there. Pearsall and Omer said, how would you like to be editor, you know, of Human Organization? I said, well, you know, I’d be interested in talking about it. So one thing led to another, so I became the editor. I went through six years as editor, two appointments during which time there were several presidents, like Lambros Comitas and Chuck Hughes. And who else would have been? Oh! Philleo Nash. Anyway, during that time, I became editor [and] had a tremendous experience as editor—wonderful. The University supported me at Boulder, gave me space, Gilbert White, he was very supportive. You know who Gilbert is, probably. He is with the head of the Institute for Behavioral Science; he is a geographer, world class kind of person, and anyway he was very helpful too. He in fact took part in that meeting when we had such a terrific snow storm. It was down there at the Harvest House at that same time when we had that meeting. But, the outcome of it was that I stayed for two terms as editor and then they asked me to stay on a third time as treasurer. So I served the Society for Applied nine years, in one capacity or another. At the end of that period I decided, wow, I’ve just had enough national service. I’m gonna go home and see if we can do something local.
The ruminations about the need for local practitioner organizations and a lot of things were beginning to develop in the SfAA, and they had to do with regional sub sections. And I was on the board at the time of SfAA when that was being discussed. So I, at the end of my term as treasurer said wow! That’s something I can do local; I’d like to go back and just see what I can do to at the grass roots level in applied in developing of our organization. So I came back to Boulder with the idea that we wanted to do a regional sub section which is how the first newsletters were actually entitled. And then we found out that there was some huge tax problem that AAA had gotten into by authorizing all the SfAA, and I guess the AAA, all of them had gotten into the organizing these regional sub sections. And I never did figure out what the problem was, but anyway, it came down to the fact that we had to become independent. So we…then began discussions how to be able, how we will all become independent. But all the players in that time included Mike [Michael J.] Higgins from Northern Colorado or Greeley. University of Northern Colorado, including Friedl and myself, Omer, but also Art was there, Art Campa, Peter Van Arsdale was there, Carla was there. The students involved were really Friedl’s students and we met at Friedl’s house, and Omer was there, I was there, Peter was there, we all had these meetings at Friedl’s like social center, you know, social center at Friedl’s house was, was how we knew it all. He had the usual array of food and wine and sat around smoking cigars with Martha, you know, she smoked the cigars and cigarillos, or whatever you called those, really black looking.
VAN ARSDALE: Yeah, she did.
WALKER: It was that huge family of eight kids I think in that great big whole house and it was like having a meeting in a middle of a family.
VAN ARSDALE: That’s right.
WALKER: And we were always interacting with the family, having food, you know. But anyway, we began to organize and we moved toward having our first meeting, and in that meeting we eventually invited, I believe Harland Padfield to be our first speaker. He was the invited speaker and Harland came from, I believe he was at Oregon State then, he’d been at Arizona. Harland came. We had a meeting down at the Harvest House again, and things kind of started taking off. And there were Boulder faculty there, a lot of Boulder faculty and students, and from that time forward, the annual meetings became institutionalized and increasingly we began to seek a corporate identity and a 501 (c) (3) and Carla was part of that, and Peter began to pick up on the publication activities and things just kind of took off.
VAN WILLIGEN: So it, in fact, at that time, what was it actually called?
VAN ARSDALE: It was called, how about the High Plains Regional Society.
WALKER: Right, Regional Sub Section . . .
VAN ARSDALE: Or Regional Sub Section.
WALKER: . . . of the . . .
WALKER & VAN ARSDALE: . . . Society for Applied Anthropology.
WALKER: That was the title, the regional sub section of the Society, the High Plains Regional for the Society for Applied Anthropology.
VAN ARSDALE: A name which needless to say, did not blend to a good acronym.
[Editor: The program for the first annual meeting states the name as, “High Plains Section of the Society for Applied Anthropology.’ After this meeting the Society used the name “High Plains Regional Section of the Society for Applied Anthropology.” This appeared in the banner of the newsletter produced, 1981-1984 and in their Articles of Incorporation filed in Colorado. After the separation from SfAA, by-laws were revised in 1984. These changes included a new name, “High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology.” Articles of Incorporation in Colorado were changed to reflect this in 1985. ]
WALKER: Kind of happy to do away with that. But I think that you know, our first real president was Friedl you know, I was the coordinator, I came and we brought things together and I was sort of the initial center.
VAN ARSDALE: The four of you were the founders really Deward. Others of us like Carla and I and others were listeners and inviters and sitter inners at Friedl’s house.
VAN ARSDALE: And we got more involved the next two years, but the four of you deserve credit as the official co-founders.
PUNTENNEY: Can, can you give us a little background on who Friedl is because he is now an integral part of the society.
WALKER: Oh Gottfried Lang had come from Catholic University to Boulder as part of a science development enrichment NSF grant the University had, and Omer had seen to it that he was hired. And he came with interest, not only in Africa and New Guinea but also in Ute, which was the key thing for Omer being a [chuckle] Great Basin figure. So, Friedl came and began to develop and always had an extremely faithful groups of students around. People loved him; he was like a father figure for them. Friedl taught cultural dynamics, he was very theoretically oriented. He did, went into a series of big projects. One was the American Indian Study of Education ran by [Robert J.] Havighurst out of Chicago in which he had a series of students go out to different reservations to study Indian education. He had a big project in Tanzania, I believe involving, is it the Chaga? It’s in that vicinity that he had agricultural; FAO was part of the sponsoring group. He had a big project in New Guinea which Peter took part in, with Asmat is that right?
VAN ARSDALE: That’s correct, Deward, that’s right.
WALKER: And he also kept work going in Oberammergau, Germany from which he came at the beginning of World War II. Someone said he headed to South America but, because he wasn’t a very good pilot, he wound up in Canada.
WALKER: I think Colby [Hatfield] said that about him one time, Colby being one of his students. I think he came from Catholic University, Colby himself did work in Pentecostal movements among Africans, I believe in Tanzania also.
VAN ARSDALE: Sukuma.
WALKER: The Holiness Churches.
WALKER: Friedl over the years was a kind of leveling influence on the more radical faculty moves and conflicts, and struggles and competitions and so on. He had a leveling effect on Hackenberg, on me, on others, you know, who would get whipped up about these little things in the department. But he was like the one who would say well, have you thought about this, and have you looked at it this way and, you know, he was always doing that, so he kind of held us together. Omer could never quite figure out Friedl because Friedl had this very deeply religious side to him, and also this very scientific side, and for Omer he had rejected totally all religion according to his statements. According to his statements Omer had rejected all religion, particularly due to his Mormon experience in being excommunicated for teaching the real history of the American Indians, not the church history here in Boulder. He was actually excommunicated by the Mormons formally. But he had trouble figuring out Friedl and he always was suspicious of Friedl because Friedl would somehow be religious and scientific at the same time.
WALKER: So I, I never really was able to figure out about much of that except that Friedl just happily ignored it all and went ahead [chuckle]. You know Friedl was never bothered by it. But Friedl was a very gentle, wonderful man, and still is who had a wonderful and gentle and supportive wife and family. We all benefited tremendously from that, so we had this very warm foundation for what we were doing together, and he always helped maintain that atmosphere and made us want to come to his house to the meetings you know, made us want to be part of it. He just wanted to, you know, be bathed in this wonderful warm light of the Lang household and so as, you know, as things went, Friedl became the first actual president elected and was instrumental in many of the moves that were necessary to get us going, in getting planning, and getting incorporated and all that stuff. And of course his students, like Carla, whom I think could be regarded as a student, and certainly Peter and Ken Keller and Colby who am I leaving out? Anyway they, they became his disciples and right arms in getting the society moving. Friedl, although I’m sure I’m selling him very short, but, you know, his origins at Oberammergau continued to entertain his interest, he went over and he and Martha did articles on their work in Oberammergau. They studied the passion play, that’s right, and his family has been in that [chuckle] passion play for a long time.
VAN ARSDALE: Generations!
WALKER: But he’s a very, very different kind of personality from Hackenberg. They were like this; I was sort of out here a little bit on the outside, Hackenberg was a go getter, you know, go for the meat, go for the bone, you know, get it, get it going, do it now, don’t wait, let’s move on, the hell with the failures, we’re going ahead.
VAN ARSDALE & LITTLEFIELD: [Laughter]
WALKER: And you know, there’d be Friedl behind sweeping up [chuckle]. All this stuff left in the wake as Bob moved ahead with his training program and you know, all the other projects he had going. But the two of them actually published some work together on Northern Europe, Bob and Friedl, and they were both in IBS. IBS, Institute of Behavioral Science at Boulder, was an important part of the sponsoring for what he did and for the students and the support for the students, and I was part of that.
VAN ARSDALE: But if it weren’t for the University of Colorado Boulder and the anthropology department, I’m not sure that the High Plains Society would be a successful it is today. It’s been an ongoing supportive unit, it’s critical, and its role did a second thing. It continued to enable us to get away from that false dichotomy of applied or classroom versus applied, or theory versus applied, or any of the things that we were wrestling with then. It was simply interested people from a university who cared about practicing an applied anthropology, real simple. There wasn’t any artificial dichotomization. The university’s role was critical.
LITTLEFIELD: I tend to agree with you and, as the SfAA-LPO liaison, I’ve got contact with a lot of other LPOs throughout the country and, and I think that most of them are missing this link with an academic organization with its intelligentsia, with its resources, you know, just a power house of support with that could exist for an LPO in the region. The others don’t have it, we have it, and I think we are to be envied.
PUNTENNEY: You know, there’s a lot of discussions among LPOs about this, having a structure. Do you have any comments from the early days on the importance of having put that in place so that there are people that are designated leaders and have positions of responsibility to get the work done, to keep the society moving forward?
WALKER: I think you have to have structure, but you also have to have a heck of a lot of commitments from people. You have to have good people and they have to be on the same page, and I don’t know all the details of what’s acquired to get that. But a structure is necessary to allow people to interact in a productive matter and to decide on goals and procedures and methods and make all the decisions. But I think you have to have people who are dedicated, committed, you can’t just do this as a kind of afterthought. This has, just the organization itself has to have real commitment from the people. Until that happens, you can have all the structures in the world and I don’t think you’re going to get that far. I also agree that you need that university support but it’s particularly in the early years, and we still need it.
VAN ARSDALE: We do.
WALKER: Not as much. That continues to be a vital part of what we need to survive in this family in order to reach our ultimate destination of self-sufficiency, but we are not there. We are not there and it will be a while before we get there. When we look at the amount of volunteer effort, if you total up the money we raise, if you look at the budget we have just finished, designed, we did a comprehensive analysis of our budget, we have some like thirty-nine thousand dollars that is there every year in funds and donated effort. The funds we’ve collected now around seven thousand dollars. We’ve got a ways to go before we reach thirty-nine, or thirty-four, I think it’s thirty-nine, actually Dave’s [L. Davis Clements] come up with. But he’s trying to show every single action and give it an economic value of the donated effort in this comprehensive economic plan, and I honestly think that we won’t, in my life time certainly, and I plan to be around a while yet. We won’t reach that thirty-nine in cash. I don’t think we’ll ever, in my lifetime, get there. I think we’ll continue to have to rely on a lot of donated volunteer effort, and you’re gone have to have commitments by university support groups and others, but I honestly think that we can reach, probably within about five years, we could reach maybe half of that, maybe half of that thirty-nine thousand figure. But if so, it’s an issue, the money, the budget, requires a structure, requires a permanent committee, requires a lot of investment of time and energy, and planning.
VAN ARSDALE: It seems really odd Deward that, and I’m thinking back on—you didn’t use these phrases back then but I think we had it and had the issues and discussions around these three points: structure, certainly, and the details that you need, but you need more than a structure, function and what we’re going to do, but you need more than a function. Certain things as I think that we wrestled with, ongoing committed charismatic leadership. It seemed if I were to summarize and reflect back, structure, function AND committed charismatic leadership…
VAN ARSDALE: . . . helped us get started and is needed in any organization of this type.
WALKER: That first group, very strong leadership, to answer your point.
VAN ARSDALE: Very dedicated, certainly dedicated.
WALKER: Struggling, very struggling with the issues of the time and attempting, you know, to do their best with them. I think they’re all committed, but I think that early group of leadership was very effective.
VAN WILLIGEN: I’m really curious about the actual very first meetings. [And] was there any kind of formal things like news or memos sent or anything like that.
WALKER: I think at the very beginning people were curious about what Deward wanted to do, but very quickly found it to be a very checkerboard path to follow. But the first meetings were essentially conversational over dinner, over wine and cigars or whatever at Friedl’s house and, and those were more just dream sessions, vision sessions. How can we do this, how could we do this, where do we want to be, what can it lead to, it was those kinds of, of skull sessions.
VAN WILLIGEN: Yeah in the original, the original conception was very much of a regional aspect of SfAA.
VAN WILLIGEN: And the point at which we thought of being, right now what are called LPOs. That phrase I am sure came later.
PUNTENNY: Meaning local practitioner organizations.
WALKER: Came later.
VAN WILLIGEN: I mean the, the motivation initially wasn’t really that.
WALKER: Not to be an LPO, no. LPOs actually began to be used as a concept about the time we began our association with NAPA. I think when NAPA sort of came on the scene.
WALKER: Well people like Art [Campa] began to call us LPOs and there was some resistance to that. Are we really an LPO or we are not!
PUNTENNEY: And that came from the NAPA side. That came from Linda Bennett who NAPA bulletin number two is the directory of LPOs, and I don’t remember that year. It’s right in the beginning. NAPA was founded in 1983 at the Chicago meeting, and it was eighty-four a little bit shortly thereafter, eighty-four or eighty-five, I think they were trying to pull together, since they had this new unit, or section within AAA, this National Association of Practicing Anthropologists: well, where are they, who are they and now we’re official [chuckle]. Where’s our members, and they were trying to make sense about us.
WALKER: Remember that the SfAA was in a very competitive relationship with the AAA at the time we began.
VAN WILLIGEN: Right.
WALKER: And I don’t know how many people are aware of that but, the SfAA people were dissatisfied with [Ed] Lehman’s control.
VAN WILLIGEN: Yes.
WALKER: And they decided to pull out. That’s when Padfield, I think was president of the SfAA, correct?
VAN WILLIGEN: Very likely.
WALKER: It was a meeting we had down in Merida a lot of that came really to a head at the SfAA meetings.
VAN ARSDALE: Those were the seventies, that was in the mid seventies.
WALKER: Yeah, we began the SfAA at that time when I was in the board of SfAA, they began to pull back and increasingly went through a series of crisis as they pulled out of AAA. When they pulled out of AAA Lehman correspondingly initiated NAPA, as a competing organization to deal with the SfAA withdrawal. And it was my view that NAPA was a child of that conflict. But we were then sort of torn between SfAA and NAPA, and that sort of intensified that feeling that we weren’t quite the same?
VAN WILLIGEN: Not quite the same as…
WALKER: No we weren’t quite the same in our sense of what our mission was? Or who we were as applied people, because NAPA was leaning toward more of the practitioner and we and SfAA both, I think, were a little more academically connected and continue to be.
VAN WILLIGEN: Right.
LITTLEFIELD: Maybe that explains our connection with CU’s and Deward all this time.
VAN WILLIGEN: And you have a journal and you have an annual meeting, which is different from, as far as you know all of them.
PUNTENNEY: Yeah we have the, the journal, the annual meeting and the annual retreat.
WALKER: We have two meetings, one at Ghost Ranch, you know, one’s a retreat.
VAN ARSDALE: I think these are distinctive features that compliment what we’ve learned from other LPOs such as WAPA [Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists] and others, SCAAN [Southern California Applied Anthropology Network] and the others that have been important in the years to come or the years that have passed. But, I think having the combination of factors that we can share from the journal through the reconstituted newsletter to the Ghost Ranch retreat to the annual meeting to the institutional and particularly seeable, the connection, I think, places or positions High Plains in that way as being unique with that combination of factors, as an LPO. I don’t think there’s any other LPO that has ever had, or has today, that combination of factors going for it.
LITTLEFIELD: I think now, as a mature organization, and so many of us have been friends for so many years we have to be careful though that that doesn’t present an exclusionary kind of appearance to new members, other people who might want to join our organization and come and, and maybe find that they are not engaged in conversations as readily as, as some of us are.
VAN ARSDALE: So, we have to do this, and you’re right, we don’t want to appear in anyway like a clique or elite group of older folks who’ve been the founders and thus others are somehow marginalized. I think we have done pretty good at avoiding that marginalization of younger people, I haven’t heard it as a critique, but we need to follow Pam’s lead to continue to welcome young people and sit down with them one to one and chat about their interest, concerns, career objectives.
WALKER: I like to think that we have a good future, but that future is going to be created by, as Peter has indicated, dynamic new leadership, and young blood, and vision, rather than trying to just content ourselves with what we’ve done and pat ourselves on the back which we have every right to do. I think that we really need to see ourselves as always a delicate, fragile entity that could fail if the right kind of leadership is not there, that we could continue to be convivial so that we can avoid conflicts that emerge on a personal basis that sometimes could be devastating for an organization, and I think we need to continue expanding, expanding, expanding our audience. I do feel that we can continue to be a small group.
An Invitation from the Society for Applied Anthropology Oral History Project
Readers are invited to suggest persons to be interviewed for the project to members of the Oral History Committee (Martha Bojko, Carol Hill, Barbara Rylko-Bauer, Don Stull and John van Willigen, chair). Van Willigen can be reached at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or 859.269.8301. Think of the anthropologists that made a difference in places where you live and work. Often the person making the suggestion is asked to do the interview. The collection of SfAA recorded interviews and transcripts is archived at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Library. The SfAA collection is listed in their on-line data base.