I am a cultural and medical anthropologist with specialties in contemporary Native American and Hawaiian culture, food studies, anthropology of tourism, medical pluralism, integrative medicine, applied anthropology and public anthropology. I teach field classes in both Native America and Hawaii during summer and winter sessions. I co-founded both Native American Studies and Integrative Health Studies and have served as coordinator of both programs. Other administrative positions I have held include Chair of the Anthropology Department and Chair of the Pre-doctoral Diversity Fellowship Program.
One of my main interests is medical pluralism and how cultures such as our own have incorporated healing traditions from all over the world. My dissertation (University of Arizona, 2001) focused on the politics and possibilities of integrative medicine in the U.S. Locally, I am involved in several organizations, including the Ithaca Health Alliance, where I work with many other dedicated Ithacans in creating innovative and not-for-profit models for individual, community, and cultural wellness.
I am also involved in various Native American organizations in the region, such as the Central New York Native American Consortium, to promote awareness about the continued existence and cultural struggles of our Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) neighbors. I have also been a key member of SHARE (Strengthening Haudenosaunee American Relations through Education) since 1999. SHARE is a grassroots, community based group that I co-founded with a group of local citizens and anthropologists. In 2001, I helped to lead an initiative to purchase 70 acres of organic land in the Cayuga land claim area to repatriate back to the Cayuga people. After 4 years of fundraising, education, and outreach, we transferred the farm in December 2005 to the traditional council of the Cayuga Nation of New York, members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Plans are underway to build a longhouse, which they have not had in over 200 years. Dan Hill (Heron Clan) was the first Cayuga to move back to the homeland and he currently functions as the caretaker of what is now known as the Cayuga SHARE Farm. All during the year he invites community members and students to come to the farm to help out with planting, harvesting, and special events. The repatriation of land by local community members and anthropologists is about facilitating people to people solutions that support cultural wellness and revitalization among Native Americans. The collaborative nature of the project has led to many opportunities to explore the role of public anthropology as a vehicle for fostering mutual understanding and respect between Native and non-Native peoples in the area, where there is a significant anti-Indian movement present.
Experiential and service learning and collaborating with communities is at the heart of the classes I teach in the field. Since 1999, I have co-taught interdisciplinary field classes in Hawai'i focusing on culture, revitalization, foodways, sustainability and Native Hawaiian issues, struggles and triumphs in a neo-colonial landscape.