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Anthropology headlines in CAS News

  • John Chau Wanted to Change Life on North Sentinel Island. Was He Wrong?

    The death of a young American missionary on a tropical island at the hands of an indigenous group has left us to wonder: Are they better off with us or without us?

    Because of their isolation, researchers say, the islanders have no immunity to infections and diseases of the outside world. Even a common cold could kill them. They posit that Mr. Chau put these people in grave danger and he should have never visited.

    John Bodley, an anthropologist at Washington State University, agrees.

    “There is no question that this attempt … » More …

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  • Archaeology offers insights into climate change strategies

    Once again, humanity might be well served to take heed from a history lesson. When the climate changed, when crops failed and famine threatened, the peoples of ancient Asia responded. They moved. They started growing different crops. They created new trade networks and innovated their way to solutions in other ways too.

    So suggests new research by former WSU anthropologist Jade d’Alpoim Guedes and Kyle Bocinsky, an alumnus (PhD ’14) and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, a senior researcher with the Village Ecodynamics Project, and the William D. Lipe Chair in Research with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado.

    Their … » More …

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  • Molecular analysis turns up an unexpected twist in smoking habits of ancient tribes

    Tobacco plays a big role in Native American history and culture, predating Christopher Columbus’ arrival by well more than a millennium. But what did ancient tribes smoke? And can history help modern-day tribes put tobacco in its proper place?

    A newly published study by Washington State University researchers traces the smoking habits of indigenous peoples in southeastern Washington state over the course of centuries, based on a molecular analysis of residue extracted from smoking pipes found at archaeological sites.

    “This is the longest continuous biomolecular record of ancient tobacco smoking from a single region anywhere in the world—initially during an era of pithouse development, through the … » More …

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  • Vancouver junior, Cowlitz Tribe member awarded National Udall Scholarship

    WSU Vancouver cultural anthropology major Emma R. Johnson has received a prestigious and nationally competitive Udall Undergraduate Scholarship in its tribal public policy category.

    “The Udall (Scholarship) is incredibly important to me,” said Johnson. “Completing all the work to apply and then being successful, it’s a really huge deal. It is helping me complete my education.”

    Johnson is WSU’s fifth Udall recipient since 2015. The Udall Foundation, a federal agency, works both to strengthen the appreciation and stewardship of the environment, public lands and natural resources, and to strengthen Native Nations to facilitate their self-determination, governance and human capital goals.

    The scholarship funds Johnson’s college … » More …

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  • The Maya Kept Jaguar Zoos for Centuries

    A chemical analysis of excavated bones shows that Mesoamericans had a long history of keeping jaguars and pumas—some of the fiercest predators around—in captivity.

    Erin Thornton.“It’s absolutely solid work,” says Erin Thornton, an anthropologist at Washington State University who specializes in isotope analysis.

    “With animal remains from Mesoamerica, it’s very hard to tell if you’re dealing with a captive animal from bones alone,” she said. “Stable isotopes are really the only way to tell if an animal was removed from the wild and put under human management.”

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