First Advisor

Jeremy Spoon

Date of Award

Winter 12-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology




Protected areas -- Government policy, Protected areas -- Political aspects, Paiute Indians -- Social conditions


Within the Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute) ancestral territory, an area that spans four states including Nevada, Utah, California and Arizona, there are abundant protected areas that are managed by both federal and state agencies. These agencies utilize interpretation as a means to educate the public about natural and cultural resources on the landscape, in situ. In this paper, I argue that protected area interpretation in the Nuwuvi ancestral territory follows a hegemonic model, in that it reflects cultural hegemony that places western science discourses over other discourses, including Nuwuvi ways of knowing. As a result, natural science themes dominate interpretation over cultural themes. Additionally, when native culture is interpreted, it is done so primarily by non-natives. This has resulted in a lack of interpretation sovereignty in the Nuwuvi ancestral territory. I argue that interpretation sovereignty, as one tool of sovereignty, can reinforce Nuwuvi strategies of self-determination; therefore, the lack of Nuwuvi voice in protected area interpretation contributes to hegemonic suppression of native communities in the region.


© 2013 Rachel E. Lahoff

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This is a Policy Paper in fulfillment of the M.A. in Anthropology

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