Research Expertise and Interest
indigenous archaeology, indigenous environmental studies, settler colonialism, community-based participatory research, California
Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok and tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) received his PhD in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and Ethnic Studies. Professor Nelson works at the intersection of anthropological archaeology, Indigenous environmental studies, and Native American Studies in collaboration with tribal nations and Indigenous peoples in California and abroad on issues of cultural heritage preservation, settler colonialism, climate change, and Indigenous landscape management. Professor Nelson engages Indigenous archaeology and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methodologies to achieve community partner goals and utilizes a suite of approaches to his research such as geophysical survey (Ground Penetrating Radar, magnetometry, and resistivity), LiDAR, GPS/GIS mapping, paleoethnobotany, and ethnographic methods to document, learn from, and manage tribal cultural and ecological landscapes.
Professor Nelson has directed archaeological and cultural heritage projects in California and conducted research in field, museum, and archival settings in Washington, California, New York, and Washington, D.C. His collaborative research also involves agencies at the city, county, state, and national level, students and faculty from diverse backgrounds and fields of study, and serves compliance as well as research purposes. Professor Nelson’s ongoing eco-archaeological research with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria at Tolay Lake Regional Park created a baseline of historical and eco-archaeological information to help the tribe and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Department reconstruct the precontact environment of this area and reveal evidence for the regimes of Indigenous land management including prescribed burning that Coast Miwok people practiced to maintain these places. Professor Nelson is expanding his research with tribes in Southern California working in Cupeño ancestral lands with the Pala Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County, California. His research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature.