Alum uses anthropology, cultural background to improve opportunities for Native Americans

December 11, 2012

Richard Meyers, tribal relations director at South Dakota State University, recognizes and empathizes with the extreme poverty in his own backyard. Meyers, an enrolled Oglala Sioux (Lakota) tribal member with Irish ancestry, holds a beneficial perspective that is both outside and within the Native culture.

With master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he seems qualified to profoundly understand the situation of American Indians, as well as how to potentially improve it. Richard Meyers Download Full Image

Meyers points out that several of the poorest communities in the nation are in South Dakota and are connected to Lakotas. It concerns him that American Indians on the whole are “lowest in terms of representation in higher education completion and highest in drop-outs.” As a result, few go on to careers in fields that can affect policies that impact their peoples.

With this knowledge in tow, Meyers felt indebted to his family to pursue a discipline that may help reconcile Native American ideals with government interests. Fittingly, the Lakota term for his position is iyeska, which roughly translates to “interpreter.”

In the past, Meyers was a ghostwriter in Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, known more commonly as the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. In that position, his goal was to not only edit the hundreds of government press releases on American Indian tribes, but also to communicate to the world the policies being contested.

One cause Meyers is championing is the increased representation of American Indians in D.C.

“As the U.S. dealt with tribal groups in its history of land grabbing, the tribal leaders who came to D.C. were often guided or manipulated or influenced by ‘lobbyists’ who saw their travel to D.C. as an opportunity for money,” he says.

With the current drop-out rate and underrepresentation in post-secondary education, there are relatively few native lawyers and lobbyists appealing for their tribes' rights, but Meyers believes that tide is turning.

“I think that through institutions of higher education, there will be new input into a lot of the politics that shape and influence ‘Indian Country,’” he says.

At some point in the near future, Meyers hopes to institute an American Indian Studies major at South Dakota State University to further propagate awareness and engagement. However, his true passion remains the study of anthropology, which he set his heart and mind on long ago.

After an undergraduate career at Amherst College, Meyers felt that ASU was just the environment he needed to equip him for his future in the field by melding his intimate liberal arts college experience with the opportunities of a large, top-tier university.

“Anthropology was the only discipline that allowed terms and writing to explain with clarity ‘cultural’ realities in a discourse that made sense to me,” he says. “I am an anthropologist first and foremost with a subject-matter expertise in Native North America more so than Native studies/American Indian studies. That means that from the human condition of tribal peoples across the globe to an economic analysis of late capitalism, I enjoy anthropology and its lens of viewing human beings.”

“It is interesting to invert the initial paradigm of anthropology and its associations to iconic Whitemen in khakis,” Meyers says.

Isaac Gilbert,
School of Human Evolution and Social Change

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Innovations in Nursing & Health magazine: Fall 2012

December 12, 2012

As the nature of health care in the U.S. continues to evolve, health education takes the lead in a transdisciplinary, interprofessional approach to finding health solutions. ASU’s pioneering approach involves integrated, interprofessional programs that draw on the expertise of individuals from various fields and cultures to begin solutions-oriented discourse, foster collaboration, conduct research, and do more. Download the full issue to learn how ASU Health Solutions is transcending boundaries.

Men in nursing Cover of the fall issue of Innovations in Nursing & Health Magazine Download Full Image

It was men who attended the world’s first nursing school in India in 250 B.C., yet today, the percentage of practicing male nurses in the U.S. hovers at a mere six to seven percent. Why? There is an old saying, “Based on results, you are exactly where you choose to be.” How can it be that 40 years after the passing of the landmark Education Amendment of 1972, with a full generation of young people being raised with federally mandated equal education opportunities, there is still such a gender disparity in the nursing field? What can be done to encourage more men to join the profession to correct this unfortunate imbalance? See feature story

Military veterans choose nursing

Responsibility, leadership and disciplinary skills developed in military help students excel in nursing

Arizona State University has seen veteran enrollment double in the last four years, with 1,600 veterans currently enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs, according to Christian Rauschenbach, Program Manager, Veteran Services, ASU. Larger numbers of veterans are choosing to pursue higher education after leaving military service as a result of the post–9/11 increase in education benefits for veterans and a tough job market.

Download an Adobe PDF version of the magazine (32 pages).