Report on the Hackenberg Prize Winner & Session, 2019

Hackenberg Prize - A Crystalline PlaqueThe prestigious Robert A. and Beverly H. Hackenberg Prize is awarded at Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) annual meetings. It is given to SfAA members whose collaborative work with community partners significantly impacts the lives of a community in the geographical area of the annual meeting. This year the Hackenberg Prize Committee selected the extraordinary work of SfAA member Jeremy Spoon, associate professor of anthropology at Portland State University and senior fellow at The Mountain Institute, and partner Richard Arnold of the Pahrump Paiute Tribe, with their collaborators. Spoon, Arnold, and their collaborators demonstrated applied anthropology at its best. Their presentations, enthusiastically received by a standing-room only audience, would have delighted the master community-collaborator, Robert A. Hackenberg, were he still among us. Fortunately, his co-Malinowski award winner, Beverly H. Hackenberg, was present.  She congratulated each of the presenters. 

What did Jeremy and Richard, with their collaborators, accomplish to win this Prize?

Imagine, if you will, conceiving of a way to integrate indigenous knowledge about plants and ecosystems to revegetate land now atop low-level radioactive waste (Nevada National Security Site; formerly the Nevada Test Site). Imagine the federal government blending indigenous knowledge with western science about how to revegetate the land. To the people whose ancestors lived in these areas for thousands of years, the land ached and needed healing from people who recognized their responsibilities to the land and animals and water and plants. This project operationalized recommendations from Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone), and Nuwu (Owens Valley Paiute) Nations—16 tribes in total.These tribes function through a consensus approach, putting aside any historical discord to achieve mutually agreed upon outcomes. 

Spoon and Arnold also invited collaborators to the eighth annual Gathering For Our Mountains intergenerational knowledge exchange and harvest event in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area and Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. More than 150 participants came to the event from Nuwuvi, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and National Park Service. They also co-facilitated collaborative ethnographic research and design for four new visitors’ centers in southern Nevada where tribal representatives were part of all facets of research, from creating the research design and recruiting participants to conducting all interviews and reviewing reports, architectural and interpretive designs. 

2019 Hackenberg Awardees - Jeremy Spoon, Richard Arnold, and Collaborators

The Hackenberg Prize was presented at the SfAA meeting March 20, 2019, during a session entitled “Revitalizing Numic Homelands: Blending Culture and Collaboration in the Great Basin and Upper Mojave Deserts.” The presenters included an astonishing array of U.S. agency leaders, tribal representatives, Portland State University students who work with Dr. Spoon, and the Desert Research Institute. The comradery and trust evident among this group were, perhaps, the most memorable aspect of this year’s Hackenberg Prize session. Humor augmented the science reportage, slide shows, and videos in their well-received program. Presenters besides Spoon, his students, and Mr. Arnold, included Keven DesRoberts and Anan Raymond (US Fish and Wildlife Service), Michael Clifford (Desert Research Institute), Ron Escobar (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe), Danelle Gutierrez (Big Pine Paiute Tribe), Kate Barcalow, Yarrow Geggus, Cerinda Survant, and Sara Temme (Portland State U), along with Brian Lefler and Kendra Wendel (US Forest Service). The decade-long collaboration, known as the Numic Project, involves revitalizing and sustaining cultural ties between members of the 16 Native tribes of Numic aboriginal lands in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and California, and federal agencies now responsible for managing those lands. The project achieves its goals “through progressive consultation, co-management, and interpretation.”

Dr. Spoon and Mr. Arnold agreed to serve as honorary members of the Hackenberg Prize Committee, assist in selecting a Prize winner for the 2020 SfAA meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., and guide the winner(s) in preparing next year’s presentation. 

The Hackenberg Award Committee seeks nominations for the 2020 prize, to be awarded at the Annual Meeting in Albuquerque. Please send nominations, suggestions, or inquiries to Don Stull, Chair, Hackenberg Prize Committee (; 785-764-8967):


The recipient of the award presents a lecture or organized session describing the project which was the basis of the prize.  The Hackenberg Prize recognizes SfAA members and their community partners whose work demonstrates sustained and meaningful collaboration to improve the communities where they live and work, thus embodying the principles and values that guided the Hackenbergs’ work. The prize is accompanied by a cash award to be used to advance the collaborative effort. Selection criteria include community participation in a project or activity related to a significant practical problem or issue. The project receiving the award is preferably interdisciplinary and located in the general geographic area in which the annual meeting is held.  The project should be sustainable, contain a model that might be replicable when tailored to a problem and its local conditions elsewhere, and have an evaluation component.

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