Meet the Professor: Sara Gonzalez


Prof. Gonzalez, archaeologist.

As an archaeologist who works at the intersection of tribal historic preservation, colonial studies, and public history, my work brings together anthropological, historical, feminist, and indigenous methods in the study and representation of Native American heritage. My research specifically examines how community-based participatory research can improve the empirical and interpretive quality of archaeological narratives, while also situating archaeology within a more respectful and engaged practice. As a core feature of this work  I am exploring the diverse applications of digital media as tools for contributing to the capacity of tribal communities to manage their historic and environmental resources. In conjunction with these projects I have developed multiple classroom, lab, and field training programs that provide undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to participate directly in research with tribal communities and to develop student-directed research that contributes to the capacity of these communities to study, manage, and represent their heritage.

This work centers on my ongoing collaboration with the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians at Fort Ross State Historic Park, a former Russian-American Company mercantile settlement (1812-1841) in northern California. The goal of this partnership involved the development of the Kashaya Pomo Interpretive Trail, a walkable cultural heritage trail and companion website that features the history and heritage of the Kashia within their ancestral homeland. Within the context of this work, community-based participatory research with both the tribal community and the California Department of Parks and Recreation provided the basis for itnegrating Kashaya cultural protocols and values into the study, management, and representation of their heritage within Fort Ross and their ancestral homeland, Metini.

Since coming to the University of Washington in 2013, I have initiated a new, multi-year community-based partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (CTGR) and their Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO). The goal of this collaboration is twofold: first, to conduct an archaeological study of 19th and early 20th century sites associated with the community’s settlement onto the Grand Ronde reservation, which was created by executive order in 1855, and second, contribute to the capacity of the CTGR THPO to manage tribal cultural resources on its reservation lands. This summer our project will host a 7-week field school, Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology, where undergraduate and students will work alongside tribal students and  the Grand Ronde THPO to study the history and development of the 19th century reservation landscape.

Prior to coming to UW, I received my doctorate from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley Depart­ment of Anthro­pol­ogy (2011) (Go Bears!) and was a Scholar-in-Residence fel­low in the Depart­ment of Soci­ol­ogy & Anthro­pol­ogy at Car­leton Col­lege and a Chris­t­ian A. John­son Fel­low in the Depart­ment of Anthro­pol­ogy at Vas­sar Col­lege.

When not in the field or the classroom I am often found road tripping across the U.S. to find interesting, old things, trying not to kill the plants in my kitchen garden, or baking cupcakes and pies for lucky students.

Winner of the Golden Spatula Award, 2014: Prof. Gonzalez's Rhubarb Strawberry Pie with Cinnamon Scented whip

Winner of the Golden Spatula Award, 2014: Prof. Gonzalez’s Rhubarb Strawberry Pie with Cinnamon Scented whip