Grant Arndt

Associate Professor of Anthropology


Dept:World Languages And Cultures
Office:2234 Pearson
505 Morrill Rd.
Ames IA

Area of expertise: Indigenous (American Indian) Media and Activism

Topics of interest: Indigenous Studies, Native North America, Socio-Cultural Anthropology


In my work as a cultural anthropologist, I use ethnographic, historical, and semiotic methods to study Indigenous (American Indian) activism in contemporary struggles for survival and self-determination. I have published peer-reviewed articles in Comparative Studies in Society and History, The American Ethnologist, Ethnohistory, and Reviews in Anthropology, among others, and have received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society.

My current research project focuses on the "Indian News," a corpus of over 1,400 articles written by four men from the Ho-Chunk Nation for local newspapers in central Wisconsin between 1931 and 1949. The book will focus on their account of American Indian life in the pivotal decades of the Great Depression and World War II and on how their writings made “Indian News” a new literary genre and popular print commodity.

My first book, Ho-Chunk Powwows and the Politics of Tradition (Nebraska 2016), focuses on the powwow, a widespread celebration of Indigenous music and dance. It traces the way the people of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin developed their powwow tradition from the 19th to the 21st centuries as they confronted the tensions between earning money by performing for tourists and honoring Ho-Chunk military veterans as exemplars of traditional values.

I also have an active interest in the History of Anthropology, particularly in the “action anthropology” of Nancy Oestreich Lurie (1924-2017) and the “heterodox” Boasian anthropology of Paul Radin (1883-1959).

Past and future projects include Indigenous autobiography and the history of Chicago’s American Indian Center. Check out the rest of Dr. Arndt's works here.

Grants and Awards

  • 2018-2019 National Endowment for the Humanities Year-Long Research Fellowship. Research Project: “The Indian News”

  • 2018-2019 Dean’s Emerging Faculty Leader Award (2018-2019)

  • 2012 American Philosophical Society, Philips Fund for North American Research. Project: “The Indian News: Ho-Chunk Media Activism as Ethnohistorical Resource”

Recent / Major Publications

  • 2023."Decolonization and the History of Americanist Anthropology: Introduction to the Special Issue." Journal of Anthropological Research. Volume 79, Number 4: 433–438.

  • 2023. "Joining the Ongoing Struggle: Vine Deloria, Nancy Lurie, and the Quest for a Decolonial Anthropology." Journal of Anthropological Research. Volume 79, Number 4: 468–491.

  • 2022. "The Indian’s White Man: Indigenous Knowledge, Mutual Understanding, and the Politics of Indigenous Reason." Current Anthropology. Vol. 63, No. 1.

  • 2019. "Rediscovering Nancy Oestreich Lurie’s Activist Anthropology." American Anthropologist. Vol. 121, No. 3: 725-728.

  • 2016. Ho-Chunk Powwows and the Politics of Tradition. Lincoln, NE: The University of Nebraska Press.

  • 2016. "Settler Agnosia: Indigenous Action, Functional Ignorance, and the Origins of Ethnographic Entrapment." American Ethnologist. Vol. 43, No. 3: 465-474.

  • 2015. "Voices and Votes in the Fields of Settler Society: American Indian Media and Electoral Politics in 1930s Wisconsin." Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol. 57, No. 3.

  • 2012 “Autobiography en Abyme: Indigenous Reflections on Representational Agency in the Case of Crashing Thunder.” Ethnohistory Vol. 59, No. 1.