Vine and Bob: Their Contributions to WSSA’s American Indian Studies Section


  • Richard M. Wheelock Fort Lewis College


I’d like to consider the social atmosphere in Indian country as this AIS Section of WSSA emerged in 1981.   Native activism, federal policy and legislation, and concurrent social and political developments created a confusing landscape of opportunities and hazards as people like Bob and Vine pushed for new directions in higher education for Native peoples.  Amid the chaos of those times, a number of Native people in higher education circles realized the necessity of relying upon Native perspectives in research, communications and policy-making so that “Indian self-determination” in its broadest sense could
become a reality.   I think it was clear to Vine and Bob that Native people and their friends would be needed in greater numbers in new degree programs, new publishing and media ventures, and in academic debate.   Creating and maintaining a Native intellectual crucible is an intergenerational, ever-present challenge, as we all know.  After all, “peoples” live beyond the individuals of any one time.  I think Vine and Bob saw the Native pathway in higher education as many of us continue to see it today.  And, in their efforts to build the AIS program at the University of Arizona and this AIS section in the WSSA annual conference, they applied their own scholarship, their heart-felt commitment and their political savvy to the task.  I think Vine and Bob’s legacy sets a high bar for success “doing what can be done” in one’s times.