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Academics at Prescott College

Dana Oswald, Ph.D.

Faculty Emeritus

Dana Oswald, Ph.D.
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220 Grove Ave.
Prescott, AZ 86301

Dana, as an anthropologist, seeks to understand what it means to be human.  She explores the interactions between people and the environments that they inhabit, both natural and built.  This journey of discovery begins with hominid evolution and moves through prehistory, history, current events, and into the future.  As a result, she teaches a full spectrum of anthropology courses, including topics in human evolution, archaeology, cultural anthropology, and ecological anthropology. Her field research on Navajo land use practices from the 1700s through the present provides material for students to explore in her courses.  Moving beyond traditional anthropology, Dana also teaches a philosophy course in thinking sustainably, and courses in digital storytelling and short documentary.  These last courses challenge conventional thinking and integrate creative approaches into research in a variety of disciplines. This broad spectrum of interests supports her teaching in the Environmental Studies and the Cultural and Regional Studies Programs.  She occasionally mentors Masters students and is an Affiliate Faculty in the Ph.D. Program.



Yavapai College


Digital Media Arts and Digital Storytelling Certificate (42 credits) 2007


University of New Mexico


Ph.D. Anthropology 1993

University of New Mexico

M. A. Anthropology 1979


Prescott College

B. A. Anthropology 1971





Navajo Space Use Under Conditions of Increasing Sedentism.  Investigates how the interaction between natural and cultural processes creates land use strategies that, in turn, affected settlement patterns identified in the archaeological record.  This work creates a systematic framework to study the processes involved in Navajo adaptation and cultural change.


2004 – present


ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCHER: supported by an Arizona Humanities grant, Office of Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation grant, the Nahat’a Dziil Chapter, and Arizona Heritage Project


Interviewed individuals who were relocated to Nahat’a Dziil from Hopi Partition Lands; video taped meetings and activities; trained Navajo high school students to create digital stories and to interview elders in the Nahat’a Dziil community; created training videos for the Range Boss Training Program sponsored by the Office of Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation; currently facilitating the creation of a photo and video archive of the relocation efforts from 1987 through the present.


1983 - 1987

DEPARTMENT HEAD:  Department of Ethnoarchaeology, Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


Planned and carried out two years of ethnoarchaeological and historical research among the Tonga and Zulu—focusing on socioeconomic organization, spatial organization, and architectural patterns. (On leave in 1986)



RESEARCH ASSOCIATE:  Center for Archaeological Investigations, SIU-Carbondale, Illinois


Sorted and analyzed data records of 1,000 Navajo settlements on Black Mesa to reconstruct the subsistence economy and settlement system of the Black Mesa Navajo from 1720 to 1970 for my dissertation. 


1982 summer

ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCHER:  supported by Black Mesa Project, SIU-Carbondale, Illinois (field work done in Arizona)


Collected ethnographic field data on the formation and distribution of Navajo settlements, especially multi-component settlements during three months of intensive ethnographic interviewing for my dissertation.



LAB DIRECTOR:  Contract program, School of American Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico


Formulated and implemented organizational procedures for operating the archaeology lab.


1981 summer

CREW CHIEF:  Black Mesa Project, SIU-Carbondale, Illinois (work done in Arizona)


Directed crew in mapping, testing, gathering informant data, and compiling reports on 40 historical Navajo sites on Black Mesa


1975 – 1978

SITE SUPERVISOR/CO-SITE SUPERVISOR/ASSISTANT SITE SUPERVISOR: Laboratory of Anthropology, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico


Supervised Navajo and Euroamerican crews in all phases of excavation and laboratory analyses on one non-ceramic and three ceramic sites (including a historic Spanish component); supervised various phases of final reports on the same sties.




Short Documentary: collecting, analyzing and publishing ethnographic data

Digital Storytelling:  creating community through stories; collecting, analyzing, and publishing ethnographic data through digital stories

Cultural Landscapes:  investigating land use patters from prehistoric to modern times

Environmental Anthropology:  teaching cultural evolution and adaptation; sustainable practices

Ethnography:  teaching and developing methods used with field research with Navajo, Zulu, and Tonga

Anthropological Method and Theory:  teaching applied anthropology cultural change

Ethnoarchaeology/Historical Archaeology: developing inferential links between socioeconomic organization, spatial organization, and land use and architectural patterns





2009 - present

Keynote Speakers Series for MAP and Ph.D. Colloquia DVDs produced by the Prescott College Media Center of all the keynote speeches.  I supervise work study students in the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of these programs to produce DVDs for the Prescott College library and the speakers.  I also ran 1 of the cameras. Spring 2009 – spring 2011 there were 4 MAP colloquia and 1 Ph.D. colloquium a year.  Fall 2011 – present there were 2 MAP colloquia and 1 Ph.D. colloquium a year.


2010 May -present

Graduation and Baccalaureate Videos for the Resident Degree Program and Adult Degree and Graduate Programs  DVDs produced by the Prescott College Media Center.  I supervise work study students in the pre-production, production, and post-production phases of these 3 programs twice a year.  These programs were originally sold to interested graduates, now they are provided to all graduates as part of their graduation fees.  I run one of the three cameras shooting footage at each event and I edited the May 2010 RDP graduation program.



Range Boss Training Series: Livestock Handling  two-hour program on how to handle cattle calmly on foot.  I shot the footage and edited the program for the Navajo Hopi Relocation Commission.



Range Boss Training Series: Livestock Health  two-hour program on feeding and handling diseases among cattle.  I shot the footage and edited the program for the Navajo Hopi Relocation Commission.



Range Boss Training Series: Project Design and Maintenance  two-hour program on how New Lands range areas are setup to support sustainable cattle grazing, as well as the maintenance of stock tanks, windmills, and dirt tracks through pastures.  I shot the footage and edited the program for the Navajo Hopi Relocation Commission.


2007 – 2008


Nahat’a Dziil Youth Conference Proceedings DVDs produced by the Nahat’a Dziil Chapter of the Navajo Nation of the three-day youth conference hosted by the chapter for youth from all over the Navajo Nation.  I supervised a crew of Navajo high school students, who had taken my video courses.  We shot reality footage of all the events and lectures, edited the footage and produced DVDs for the speakers and the Nahat’a Dziil Chapter.



William Scott Jennings: Color and Light in Plein Air  two-hour educational program about painting in plein air by a prominent plein air artist.  Produced by Digistory LLC.  It was a three-camera shoot.  I helped plan the shooting, which was done on site at Oak Creek Canyon, and handled one of the cameras.



Life and Land Use History Project  series of short interviews shot and edited in partial satisfaction of an Arizona Humanities Grant.  I conducted the interviews, shot the footage and did the editing.  The resulting program was shown at Prescott College on 11/11/04and to the residents of the Nahat’a Dziil Chapter on 11/18/04 .







Homesteads in two rural Zulu communities:  an ethnoarchaeological investigation.  Annals of the Natal Museum, 31(3).  Pietermaritzburg. (with co-authors K. Mack and T. Maggs).



The organization of space in residential buildings:  a cross-cultural perspective.  In Method and Theory for Activity Area Research:  An Ethnoarchaeological Approach, edited by Susan Kent.  Columbia University Press, New York.



Spatial parameters of Late Iron Age settlements in the Upper Tugela Valley.  Annals of the Natal Museum, 27(1).  Pietermaritzburg.  (junior author with T. Maggs, M.J. Hall, and H. Ruther).



The use of site structure to infer social and technological organization from the archaeological record.  In  Frontiers:  Southern African Archaeology Today,  edited by M. Hall, et.al.  Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology No. 10.  BAR International Series No. 207, London.



Space use and site structure.  Haliksa'i, Vol 1.  Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.



The interaction between culture and architectural design--the case of the Navajo Mission Academy student housing.  In Navajo Mission Academy:  New Student Housing, Research Program, and Schematic Design, edited by Wolfgang Preiser.  Monograph Series 12.  Institute for Environmental Education, School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.



A world view of agriculture.  In Tijeras Canyon:  Analyses of the Past, edited by Linda Cordell. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.  (senior author with Yvonne Oaks)



Monuments. In The Prehistory of Chalchuapa, El Salvador, Vol. 1, edited by Robert Sharer.  University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.





Plan drawings and description of renovations to the Ironwood building to house the Media Center and the Natural History Institute.  Prepared from information gathered at the spring ES Program Retreat.  Submitted to Cathy Boland.



Campus Space Task Force Report.  In Campus Options Report.  Prepared by the Campus Options Subcommittee, Board of Directors, Prescott College.



A Report to the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools:  Self Study.  Ann Linsky, et. al.  Report on file in Prescott College Library.  (written and compiled by steering committee members).



Arizona D:7:4089. In Excavations on Black Mesa, 1981, A Descriptive Report.  Center for Archaeological Investigations Research Paper No. 36, edited by Francis E. Smiley.  Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. (senior author with John Joha and Jo Miles)




Navajo sites investigated during 1981.  In Excavations on Black Mesa, 1981, A Descriptive Report.  Center for Archaeological Investigations Research Paper No. 36, edited by Francis E. Smiley.  Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.  (junior author with Belinda Blomberg and Thomas Rocek).



Excavations at LA 11904, Ojo Project.  Laboratory of Anthropology Notes, No. 11H.  Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.



The Reef Site:  Excavations Along the Lower Colorado River.  Monograph submitted to the National Park Service.  (senior author with Robert C. Euler)





“Digital Storytelling” presented at the fall CIEL Annual Meeting at Berea College.



"Natural and social agents in Navajo cultural evolution on Black Mesa" invited participant in the symposium "Changing perspectives of Navajo culture: recent research on Navajo archaeological sites".  Ronald Towner and Jeffrey S. Dean organizers.  Society for American Archaeology, St. Louis.



"Through the looking glass:  can we believe our eyes?"  Society for American Archaeology, Portland.



“The use of site structure to infer social and technological organization from the archaeological record."  Southern African Association of Archaeologists, Gaborone, Botswana.



"Relations between site structure and labor and social organization" in the symposium "Meaning of architectural variability and space use,"  Patricia Gilman and Dana Oswald organizers.  Society for American Archaeology, Minneapolis.  (senior author with Robert Vierra).



"Space use and site structure."  Invited paper in symposium organized by Lewis R. Binford.  Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia.




Matching grant from the Arizona Heritage Project to support the creation of an archive and the continuation of collection interviews for the archives.



Matching grant from the Office of Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation to pay for materials and travel for me to train high schools students participating in the Cultural Preservation Project and Summer Youth Workshop.



Matching grant from the Arizona Humanities Council to support interviews with residents of Nahat’a Dziil who were relocated from Hopi Partition Lands.  Public presentations made at Prescott College, 11/11/04 and Nahat’a Dziil Chapater 11/18/04

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