Emily Van Alst

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Indiana U., Bloomington

Grant number

Gr. 10246

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Van Alst, Emily (Indiana U., Bloomington) "Elk Images and Elk Traditions: (Re)contextualizing Lakota rock art as sites of continued cultural knowledge and resiliency "

EMILY VAN ALST, then a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, received a grant in October 2021 to aid research on “Elk Images and Elk Traditions: (Re)contextualizing Lakota rock art as sites of continued cultural knowledge and resiliency,” supervised by Dr. K. Anne Pyburn. This project takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine the relationship between Indigenous women and local ecology of rock art sites, specifically focusing on ceremonial elk imagery from Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. In order to explore this relationship, the grantee compares motif styles and information regarding associated artifacts, landscape features, and geological attributes from state site forms to better contextualize the sites. Rock art must be seen as Indigenous knowledge transmitted across generations, in turn informing interpretations rooted in Indigenous ontology. By utilizing a relationality framework, this work provides archaeologists and community members with a methodology that interprets, understands, and presents rock art in a manner that is simultaneously grounded in Indigenous knowledge and archaeological tradition. This interpretative framework works to define the relationship between ceremonial motifs and their cultural/ecological landscapes to understand the communities who created and interacted with these types of panels. The ultimate goal of this Indigenous-centered methodology is to (re)contextualize rock art sites with, by, and for Indigenous communities.