Larry J. Zimmerman

Academic Profile

Me playing an Arnhemland didj in 1997. Click on the image to hear me play (if you dare!).Professor of Anthropology & Museum Studies
Public Scholar of Native American Representation
Department of Anthropology & Museum Studies
433 Cavanaugh
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
425 University Blvd.
Indianapolis IN 46202-5140
Telephone: 317-274-2383; Fax: 317-274-2347 E-mail:

PhD, Anthropology, University of Kansas-Lawrence, 1977
M.Phil., Anthropology, University of Kansas-Lawrence, 1974
MA, University of Iowa-Iowa City, 1971
BA (Honors),  University of Iowa-Iowa City, 1969

I've had  varied and challenging experiences both in and out of academia. I began my career  at the University of South Dakota where I stayed for for 22 years, leaving in 1996 as Distinguished Regents Professor. Following South Dakota, I served from 1998-2001 as Department Executive Officer (Chair) of American Indian and Native Studies at the University of Iowa, then as Head of the Archaeology Department at the Minnesota Historical Society from 2002-2004. During any gaps I did cultural resources management consulting.

My one consistent research interest has been Native Americans, from pre-Contact times to the present. In every job I’ve had, I’ve worked closely with American Indians, and that fact brought me into realms I had never imagined I’d enter as an archaeologist. My worked forced me to recognize that Indians are from now, not just back then. What we archaeologists do isn’t just about groups that are gone, but groups that continue into the present day, and how and what we study affects their identities and their lives. This took me  into the issue of repatriation, something I initially resisted as a scientist, but the rightness of which I began to accept as a person. As I ventured further into the study of the whole relationship between scholars and Indians, I began looking at everything from how Indians are represented in museums to the possibilities of Indian people doing their own archaeology. I’ve worked in direct collaboration with the Pawnee, Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Anishinabe, Arikara, Northern Cheyenne, Western Mohegan, and other nations. I’ve also worked a bit with Australian Aborigines who are concerned with many of the same issues as Indians.

I’m an active scholar and enjoy both research and writing, and I certainly like to engage students in the process. publishing with several of them. I’ve also edited a number of academic journals and served in a variety of positions in professional organizations, including the ethics committees of both the Society for American archaeology and the American Anthropological Association. I’m a past Secretary and past Vice President of the World Archaeological Congress. That group has gotten me all over the world, and I’ve often figured out ways to take students along. At WAC 6 in Dublin, I was humbled by being honored as the inaugural recipient of the Peter J. Ucko Memorial Award for Contributions to World Archaeology. If everything goes right, in 2011we'll be hosting an Inter-congress of WAC at the Eiteljorg Museum and IUPUI on Indigenous People and Museums: Unraveling the Tensions  (see for information).

As for teaching, that is perhaps the most fun of what I do. I handle a mixed bag of courses in Anthropology and Museum Studies, many of them linking directly to the American Indian collections of the Eiteljorg Museum. I'm also very concerned with how archaeological information is transmitted to archaeology's publics, which led to a 1991-92 stint as a National Lecturer for Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, with more than 30 lectures across the US and Canada. These concerns also led me to write Presenting the Past as part of The Archaeologist's Toolkit series I co-edited. If pressed, I'd say that my scholarly interests are in Great Plains archaeology, computer applications in archaeology, cultural and intellectual property issues, and relationships between American Indians and archaeologists. Working with students Jessica Welch and Courtney Singleton, I've just finished the first stage a research project on the archaeology of homelessness, starting fieldwork  in St. Paul, MN, then expanding into Indianapolis.

In my non-academic life, I play the didjeridoothe Australian Aboriginal wind instrumentread horror novels, and generally get in my wife Karen’s way (she’s an IUPUI Archivist/Librarian). We also hike, cause grief for our cat, and try to keep in touch with our two grown-and-moved-away kids.

Some Recent Publications

Books and Edited volumes:

2010 Exploring the Life, Myth and Art of Native Americans. Trade book-grades 6-12. New York: Rosen Publishing.

2009 The Archaeologist's Field Handbook with Heather Burke and Claire Smith. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

2008 Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One. Co-edited with Heather Burke, Claire Smith, Joe Watkins and Dorothy Lippert. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press

2003 Always on the Edge (of the Prairie-Plains) Essays in Honor of David Mayer GradwohlEditor. Journal of the Iowa Archaeological Society, vol. 50.
2003 Native North American/First Nations: Myth, Life, and Art. Trade book. London: Duncan Baird  Publishers.

2003 Ethical Issues in Archaeology. AltaMira Press: Walnut Creek, CA. Co-edited with Karen D. Vitelli  and Julie Hollowell-Zimmer.

2003 Presenting the Past. AltaMira Press: Walnut Creek, CA. 

Recent and In Press Articles:

In press, Creating a translational archaeology of homelessness. World Archaeology 42(3) - Archaeology and Contemporary Society. With  Courtney Singleton and Jessica Welch

In press, Displaced and Invisible: Can the Homeless Have a Heritage? Historical Archaeology 45(1), Special Issue, Archaeologies of Engagement, Representation, and Identity, edited by Paul A. Shackel and David Gadsby. With Jessica Welch

In press, YouTube Indians. In, Indigenous Voice in Film, edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith. Lincoln: University of  Nebraska Press. With Kelly Branam.

In press, The Ethics of Letting Go. In, Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology II, Co-edited by Geoffrey Scarre and Robin Cunningham, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2010 Deconstructing Roger Echo-Hawk (Sort of). The SAA Archaeological Record 10(2):4-5.  Special issue on Working Together on Race, co-edited by Kurt Dongoske and Larry J. Zimmerman.

2010 The Premise and Promise of Indigenous Archaeology. American Antiquity 75(2):228-238. With Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, T. J. Ferguson, Dorothy Lippert, Randall H. McGuire, George P. Nicholas, and Joe Watkins.

2010 In the Public Interest: Creating a More Activist, Civically-Engaged Archaeology, In, Voices in American Archaeology, co-edited by Wendy Ashmore, Dorothy Lippert, and Barbara Mills. Washington, DC: Society for American Archaeology Press. pp. 131-159. With Barbara Little.

2010 “White people will believe anything!”: Worrying about Authenticity, Museum Audiences, and Working in Native American-Focused Museums, Museum Anthropology 33(1):33-36.

2010 Archaeology Through the Lens of the Local.  In Archaeology in situ: Local Perspectives on Archaeology, Archaeologists, and Sites in Greece, co-edited by Anna Stroulia and Susan Buck Sutton. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 473-480.

2008 Foreword. In, Collaborating At the Trowel’s Edge, edited by S. Silliman. University of Arizona Press/Amerind Foundation. pp. vii-x.

2008 Archaeological Taxonomy, Native Americans, and Scientific Landscapes of Clearance: A Case Study from Northeastern Iowa. In Landscapes of Clearance, edited by Amy Gazin-Schwartz and Angele P. Smith. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA. With Dawn Makes Strong Move. pp. 190-211.

2008  Real People or Reconstructed People? Ethnocritical Archaeology, Ethnography, and Community-building. In, Ethnographic Archaeology: Reflections on Stakeholders and Archaeological Practices, edited by C. Matthews and Q. Castenada.  AltaMira Press pp. 183-204.

2008  Multi-vocality, Descendant Communities, and Some Epistemological Shifts Forced by Repatriation. In, Opening Archaeology: Repatriation’s Impact on Method and Theory, edited by Thomas Killion. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research. Pp. 91-108.

2007 Unusual or “Extreme” Beliefs about the Past, Community Identity, and Dealing with the Fringe. In,  Collaboration in Archaeological Practice: Engaging Descendent Communities, edited by Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh and T.J. Ferguson. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. pp. 55-86.

2007 Plains Indians and Resistance to “Public” Heritage Commemoration of Their Pasts. In, Cultural Heritage and Human Rights. H. Silverman and D. Fairchild Ruggles, New York: Springer. pp. 144-158.

2007 Diálogos desde el Sur Foro Virtual: Arqueología y Descolonizatión. With Nayanjot Lahiri , Nick Shepherd, Joe Watkins, and Cristóbal Gnecco. Arqueología Suramericana/Arqueologia Sul-Americana 3(1):4-19. 

2006 Beyond Racism: Some Opinions about Racialism and American Archaeology. American Indian  Quarterly 30(3): 461-485. With Roger Echo-Hawk. Reprinted 2010 in Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism, edited by Robert Preucel and Stephen Mrozowski. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 311-324.

2006  Scale, Model Complexity, and Understanding: Simulation of Settlement Processes in the Glenwood Locality of Southwestern Iowa, 1976 and 2000. In, Gary Locke and Brian Molyneaux, eds., Confronting  Scale in Archaeology: Issues of Theory and Practice. Springer: New York. pp. 129-144.  With Joe Alan Artz.

2006 Liberating Archaeology, Liberation Archaeologies and WAC. Archaeologies 2(1): 85-95

2005 Consulting Stakeholders. In, Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses, edited by Jane Balme and Alistiar Paterson.     Blackwell:London. pp. 39-58.

2005 First, be humble: working with Indigenous peoples and other descendant communities. In, Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonizing Theory and Practice, edited by Claire Smith and H. Martin Wobst. London: Routledge. pp. 301-314.

2005 Public Heritage, a Desire for a "White" History of America, and Some Impacts of the Kennewick Man/Ancient One Decision. International Journal of Cultural Property 12(2):261-270.

For a complete curriculum vitae, see


Updated May17, 2010