First Advisor

Michele Gamburd

Date of Publication

Winter 3-20-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology






Indians of North America -- Food -- History -- Social conditions, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah -- Social life and customs, Bishop Paiute Tribe -- Social life and customs, Northern Paiute Indians -- Social life and customs, Southern Paiute Indians -- Social life and customs, Food habits -- California -- Owens Valley -- History, Diet -- Health aspects -- California -- Owens Valley



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 162 pages)


Funded by Nellis Air Force Base (NAFB), my thesis research and analysis examined Native American knowledge of heritage foods and how diminished access to food resources has affected Native American identity and health. NAFB manages the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), land and air space in southern Nevada, which includes Native American ancestral lands. During a research period of 3 months in the spring/summer of 2012, I interviewed members of Native American nations culturally affiliated with ancestral lands on the NTTR, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah (PITU) and the Bishop Paiute Tribe. My research included participant observation and 31 interviews with tribal members considered knowledge holders by tribal leaders. In dialogue with the literature of the anthropology of food, political economy, and Critical Medical Anthropology, my analysis focused on the role of heritage foods in everyday consumption, taking into account the economic, social, environmental, and political factors influencing heritage foods access and diet. My work explored the effects of structural forces and rapid changes in diet and social conditions on Native American health. I found shifts in concepts of food-related identity across ethnic groups, tribes, ages, and genders. I also found evidence of collective efforts to improve diet-related health at tribal and community levels. Through the applied aspects of my research, participants and their families had the opportunity to share recipes and food dishes containing heritage foods as a way to promote human health and knowledge transmission.


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