NMU Student Anthropologu

A degree in Anthropology.

The Department of Sociology & Anthropology now has an ANTHROPOLOGY MAJOR. For clarification, the new major is in Anthropology, not Forensic Anthropology. We still have an Anthropology minor as well. Currently, students have the option to select a concentration in either Archaeology, Sociocultural Anthropology, or General Anthropology. We are in the process of creating a fourth option for students interested in Physical/Forensic Anthropology, which includes classes and possible FROST fieldwork. Classes related to forensic anthropology have begun to be offered.

Anthropology Major Previous Bulletins

Anthropology Major 2023 (current bulletin)

Course Descriptions 

Areas of Study

Anthropology is comprised of four sub-fields: sociocultural anthropology, linguistics, archaeology and physical anthropology/forensic anthropology. Anthropologists are involved in diverse research agendas that range from digging ancient archaeological sites to examining people’s attachments to natural environments, and conducting market research for developing businesses. Sometimes considered a fifth sub-discipline, applied anthropology is yet another area of study that allows anthropologists to apply theories and methods to solve real-world problems.


Field Methods

Anthropologists employ a wide array of theoretical and methodological constructs that range from humanistic to social and natural scientific approaches. They are particularly well-known for establishing ethnographic field methods, such as participant observation wherein the researchers stay with and often live among the people whom they are studying. This immersion technique allows the anthropologist to glean diverse real-world experiences.


Anthropology is an excellent compliment to any major where understanding human diversity would be an asset.  When taken in combination with certain majors and electives, students may go on to enter graduate programs in anthropology.




The NMU Forensic Research Outdoor Station (FROST) is an outdoor research facility that facilitates research and education intended to advance knowledge and understanding of forensic taphonomy, anthropology, decomposition and other forensic sciences, especially as they are affected by considerable snow accumulation and repeated freezing and thawing in a high-latitude climate.

Winter 2021

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology.....(Ketchum)
  • AN101 - Intro to Physical Anthropology/Archaeology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN312 - Religion & Society.....(Ketchum)
  • AN315 - Myth, Mystery, and Fraud in Anthropology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN375 - Archaeology Lab Methods.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN440 - History of Anthropology.....(Ketchum)
  • AN495 - Human Taphonomy.....(Dr. Harris)

Summer 2021

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology [asynchronous online].....(Ketchum)

Fall 2021

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology (2 sections).....(McCune)
  • AN101 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology & Archaeology.....(Ketchum)
  • AN110 - Introduction to Anthropology.....(Ketchum)
  • AN265 - Archaeology of the Ancient Americas.....(Ketchum)
  • AN470 - Culture & Power.....(McCune)
  • AN365 - Forensic Anthropology.....(Dr. Harris)

Winter 2022

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology.....(McCune)
  • AN101 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology & Archaeology.....(Ketchum)
  • AN110 - Introduction to Anthropology.....(Faculty)
  • AN - TBD
  • AN - TBD
  • AN - TBD

Summer 2022

  • AN355 - Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods [tbd, may run summer 2023 instead].....(Dr. Demel)

Fall 2022

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology.....(McCune)
  • AN101 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology & Archaeology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN110 - Introduction to Anthropology.....(Faculty)
  • AN473 - Human Osteology.....(Dr. Harris)
  • AN420 - Experimental Archaeology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN430 - Historical Archaeology.....(Dr. Demel) or
  • AN/CJ 450 - Forensic Investigative Field Methods.....(Dr. Demel)

Winter 2023

  • AN100 - Intro to Sociocultural Anthropology.....(McCune)
  • AN101 - Introduction to Physical Anthropology & Archaeology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN110 - Introduction to Anthropology.....(Faculty)
  • AN315 - Myth, Mystery, and Fraud in Anthropology.....(Dr. Demel)
  • AN360 - Human Taphonomy.....(Dr. Harris)
  • AN390 - Museum Studies.....(Dr. Demel)

Summer 2023

  • AN355 - Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods [tbd, may have run in 2022 instead].....(Dr. Demel)

NMU Archaeology Summer Field School - Summer 2023 

AN355 - The Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods course (Summer Archaeology Field School) will be offered this summer (2023) from May 20th to June 17th. We will once again be on beautiful Beaver Island, Lake Michigan. This is a 6-credit, 4-week course that includes daily field work and evening lab work. Join Northern Michigan University students and Great Lakes Archaeologist Dr. Scott Demel on Beaver Island, MI this summer as we explore the island's prehistory and early history. We will continue our excavations at the Late Woodland/Proto-historic/Mormon MPS-Isle du Castor site, survey and map Protar's farmstead (the island's first 'doctor'), and renew our search for the French fort. Learn archaeological survey methods and mapping skills, shovel testing and excavation methods, compass and GPS use, photography, and artifact analysis in a lab setting (evenings). Email Dr. Demel ( for more information and an application. Adult learners welcome to register (upon approval).

Register for AN355 Seminar in Archaeological Field Methods (6 credits); estimated additional cost of $1450-$1650 (TBD) for 4 weeks of room and board, 3 meals a day, round-trip ferry ride, and island transportation to/from sites & research/lab space. $500 scholarships available for NMU students. We anticipate having limited scholarships available to some non-NMU students to help offset the fee (more information to follow on our web site soon). 

We will be staying in rustic cabins and/or dorms at CMU's biological field station on the island (beds, electric, hot showers; tent camp sites if you prefer), and we will enjoy our meals (3 per day) at the cafeteria. Connect via wi-fi in CMU's comfortable lounge area in the lodge, while looking out over Lake Michigan. Enjoy the island's diverse wildlife, swim, hike, bike fish, kayak, snorkel, and explore the many historic sites (group outings included).

For more information see the following:

NMU Archaeology on Facebook and YouTube

Beaver Island Archaeological Drone Survey Project: To assist with documenting archaeological sites, with the preparation of more accurate maps, and with relocating former structures, foundations and features we have employed the use of a Phantom II drone outfitted with a Zenhause Gimbal and a Go-Pro Hero 3 digital camera. Below are examples of an aerial views of one of our sites behind the former Mormon Print Shop (currently the Beaver Island Historical Society). The image to the right is an early aerial photograph (ca. 1940) that shows the same area. We compared these images to determine the location of foundations and other early structures. Subsequent ground-truthing proved successful and features were relocated. For an example of a drone flyover video go to:

Check out a music video/photo review of summer field schools (2010, 2012, and 2014),

Anthropology Faculty Fieldwork Update

2018. Mt. Mesnard, Marquette MI. Work on a red sandstone quarry site commenced this past fall with the Historical Archaeology class. We were able to document one of the red sandstone quarries on the south side of Mt. Mesnard and to document the artifacts found during our investigation. A second cabin location was also discovered and initial investigations and mapping was started. This ongoing investigation has documented the remains of an 1890s quarry operation and cabin, as well as a prehistoric quartzite quarry. 

2018. Beaver Island - MPS- île de Castor Site, and the Theodore Protar Homestead. Work continued once again at the MPS site in an attempt to wrap up our investigations there. Four more excavation units were completed at the site, while three units were completed at the Protar Homestead. Features at the MPS site include several hearths, a smudge pit, and the continuation of a possible fortification wall (post construction). A black bear canine was recovered, as were turtle bones, and spines from a 5'-6' long sturgeon. More 1850s and post-1850s historical, Contact Period, and Late Woodland Period artifacts were recovered. The ancient garden beds were relocated and flotation samples reveal what appear to be charred beans (analysis pending). A surface survey at the Theodore Protar Homestead was also conducted to document the remains of his barn and outbuildings. A privy was excavated, revealing artifacts from the original occupants of the cabin, and subsequent occupation by Protar.

2016. Beaver Island -  MPS - île de Castor Site, French Bay, Cable Bay site. Work continued at the MPS site, working through the various horizons down to the Late Woodland anthrosol. Features discovered include a smudge pit, hearths, a fish processing pit, and a section of wall (post construction) that may be Late Woodland or Contact Period (analysis pending). A shovel probe survey in an area of French Bay helped define the ca. 1900-1910 lumber camp, while text excavations were concluded at the Cable Bay site. 

2012 and 2014. Beaver Island - Mormon Print Shop & île de Castor Site. Test excavations occurred behind the old Mormon Print Shop (current home of the Beaver Island Historical Society) during the summer archaeology field school (2012); artifact analysis is underway from this multi-component site. Beneath the historic layers was an occupation horizon from the Late Woodland Period (ca. A.D. 900-1100), complete with pottery, stone tools, cultural features filled with fish bones, charred sand cherry fruit, and butchered beaver. This may have been a late summer or fall beaver hide processing station. Radiocarbon dates from two pieces of charcoal associated with pottery came in at 925 +/- 15 BP (ca. AD 1025) and 840 +/- 15 BP (ca. AD 1110).

2010. Beaver Island - Cable's Bay Fishing Village. Survey and test excavations took place at this coastal site during the NMU summer 2010 archaeology field school and during the summer of 2011; artifact analysis continues. Research and results of analyses were exhibited in "Scattered To The Winds - The Vanished Community of Cable's Bay" which ran from April to September of 2012 at the Beaumier UP Heritage Center on NMU's campus. Portions of this collection may be exhibited at the Beaver Island Historical Society in the future.

2010. Beaver Island - Burke Farm. Survey and test excavations took place at the Mormon and Irish farmstead during the NMU summer 2010 archaeology field school; artifact analysis continues.

Tracing the Anishnaabeg Migration Route

Students hicking Pictured Roces

NMU anthropology students explore migration route of the Ojibway

From July 26, 2010 through August 12, 2010, NMU anthropologist Alex Ruuska, student ethnographers Amanda Hilgers, Rebecca Ferrell, and Charlene Brissette NMU graduate, Trystan McKeel, research assistant Lindsay Kiefer, and visiting scholar Lin Da Jiang, engaged cultural representatives from the five reservations of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in ethnographic fieldwork within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park.

The purpose of this project is to explore Great 500 year Migration of the Ojibway through one portion of the Great Lakes at The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park. This is being done by gathering written histories, maps, photographs alongside ethnographic interviews of contemporary communities with cultural connections to the Pictured Rocks.These included representatives from: Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Hannahville Potawatomi Indian Community, Bay Mills Chippewa Indian Community, and Sault Ste. Marie. The NMU ethnographic team also interviewed one KBIC cultural representative from Minnesota and two Anishnaabe cultural representatives from Wisconsin. Each group visited between 5- 6 cultural sites (several of which are multi-component sites) over the course of 3 days.


The historic migration route of the Anishnaabeg is one of the defining elements of Ojibway Culture. Traveling from the Atlantic seaboard at the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Anishnaabeg followed the sacred Megis shell, performing Mide rites at each stopping place along the migration route.

 NMU ethnographic team had the opportunity to explore the oral traditions of cultural representatives through   formal and informal research strategies including: participant observation, cultural landscape survey instruments,   and interview schedules, which allowed for the thematic exploration of key topics.  At present all data from this   research is currently being compiled and will be given to the National Park Service to assist in heritage   management, educational outreach, and cultural vitalization and revitalization practices.  


Anthropology Students Engage in Research

Dr Carroll and students study map of Yellow Dog River
Local Yellow Dog Plains expert examines maps with anthropology students as  Dr. Alex Carroll looks on.

Several anthropology students are currently actively engaged in research projects with Dr. Alex Carroll, Assistant Professor of Anthropology.  They’ve been doing directed studies under Dr. Carroll and gaining first-hand experience in the world of anthropology.  For more information on her work and how you can be a part of anthropology, contact Dr. Carroll.  Here is a quick overview of her projects and student assessments of their personal experiences.

1.  Yellow Dog Plains Cultural Landscape Study

At present we are working towards the preservation of cultural landscapes on the Yellow Dog Plains.  Not only will we be striving to preserve the cultural landscapes, but also the land itself.  Kennecott Mineral Company wants to start mining on land there, and through different forms of research we are trying to stop this destruction of a natural habitat and Native American historical and religious sites.  We are using ethnographic interviews to obtain information from people living in the Yellow Dog Plains area.  Through their knowledge of the local landscape, and the history that is preserved through word-of-mouth, we hope to stop the mining and preserve the history and integrity of the Yellow Dog Plains.

Student Laura Katona with video/audio recording equipment
Anthropology student, Laura Katona practices interview documentation for Yellow Dog Plains project

Laura Katona says:

Working on research with Dr. Carroll has been a very rewarding experience for me so far.  She has enabled and pushed me to become more proficient at researching, and learning to use resources.  This opportunity is teaching me how to interact well with people of higher standing in the academic world.  My confidence in the knowledge that I have, and my ability to use it has also dramatically increased.  I am very privileged to be able to work so closely with Dr. Carroll.  I am going to be able to apply what I learn during this research to my studies in the fall, and I anticipate that researching and writing papers is going to be a much smoother process.

Andrew Mallo comments:

Being able to work with Dr. Carroll has been very rewarding. My directed study has allowed me to get hands-on experience and practice some of the major concepts mentioned in her classes. So far, I’ve been able to conduct ethnographic interviews and become familiar with the process involved in protecting culturally significant areas. More specifically, my tasks have been geared towards research.  I have had the opportunity to work with many different types of records such as maps, journals, microfilm and electronic resources.  The practice I have had with these different mediums will help significantly in the upcoming semester and throughout my college career.  I am thankful to Dr. Carroll and the Sociology Department for offering such an informative class to undergraduates.  Listening and discussing concepts in class is interesting, but being able to actively participate in them increases their appeal tenfold.

2. Oral Histories and Place Making Practices Among the Paiutes and Shoshone of Lincoln County: A Cultural Landscape of the Mormon Mountains

The Mormon Mountains constitute an extremely rich and variegated archaeological area documenting the diverse life experiences of Numic people from prehistoric times through the present.  Within the Mormon Mountains are numeorus rock shelters and caves in close association with rock art.  Among the Numa and the Newe, caves served as dwellings, regions of refuge, places for storing caches, and ritual settings.  On the east flank of the Mormon Mountains are circular structures that some cultural representatives indicate have ceremonial significance that derives from its high elevation and location in a mountain range associated with puha, or power.  These places are clearly areas that have longstanding significance among the Numic people.  Unfortunately, these areas are located only 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and thus are made increasingly vulnerable by the continued growth and development of this urban center (BLM 2006).  Which of these areas of cultural significance will be documented and preserved for the future generations depends largely upon our actions in the present.  With such considerations in mind, this proposal aims to identify and record oral histories and place-making practices of Numic-speaking peoples associated with unique archaeological resources in the Mormon Mountains as evidenced by a high density of caves, rock shelters, petroglyphs, pictographs, and roasting pits (Hanes 1983).  This general project goal shall be met through the ethnographic evaluation of nine archaeological sites within the Mormon Mountains by Paiute and Shoshone cultural representatives with traditional knowledge of the material culture, associated cultural landscapes, and traditional use patterns.

The students have been aiding Dr. Carroll in preparing the grant proposal to conduct this research.

3. Ho Chunk Nation Cultural Landscape Proposal

We are presently creating a cultural landscape proposal for the Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, which is one means of preserving pre-contact and contact sites of cultural significance.  Our research concentrates on the Kingsley Bend mounds and extends several miles around the perimeter of the Kingsley Bend.  By using archaeology, ethnography, and oral histories we hope to expand knowledge of the famous mound builders of this region while also providing systematic mechanisms to protect these places for current and future generations.

Laura Emory  has been assisting Dr. Carroll on this project.  She's been doing background research, literature reviews and helping to prepare the research proposal. She writes:

The experience of working on the Ho-Chunk Nation Cultural Landscape Proposal has been an enlightening experience for me.  Dr. Carroll has provided me with a valuable hands-on opportunity to do something in my college experience that has actual importance. In this, I have been acquiring experience and skills that will prove invaluable to the expansion of my academic and professional horizons, as well as my personal growth.

Student Breanne Lash with Kenya students

The anthropology minor was reinstated in the fall of 2008, and NMU student Breanne Lash has made creative use of the opportunity by designing a directed study with anthropology associate professor, Alex Ruuska.  The directed study enabled Breanne to receive academic credit for an exciting summer project in Kenya.  Breanne is using the anthropology minor to complement an international studies/Spanish major Here, in her own words, is Breanne’s experience.

This summer I taught HIV/AIDS education, English, Social studies, and P.E. to primary students in Kenya. During my 2 ½ month stay, I lived with the family of a former international student at Northern. Her parents actually are the founders of the school in which I volunteered at. The town was quite rural, and lacked running water and electricity (minus the use of generators that were consistently on the fritz).

At first, the students were not really sure of me, seeing as I was the only white person in the town, and quite possibly the only one they had ever seen. But with time, they had grown fond of me, and would pelt me with questions about anything and everything. These are an example of the questions my students had for me:

  • Madam, do you know where 50 cent/ P Diddy/ Young Joc live?
  • If I go to America, will I be brown like you? Or will I still be black?
  • People have GREEN EYES?! How do they SEE?!
  • Did AIDS come from America? Did a Mzungu (white person/European) bring it to Africa?
  •  Are there poor people in America?
  • Madam, why don’t you shave your head like an African? You should, and then leave me your hair.

During these Q&A sessions, the children would be all over me, examining my skin, playing with my hair, wondering what the blue lines under my skin were, and teaching me the important Swahili phrases like nataka chakula/maji and sipendi baridi –I want food/water; I don’t like the cold.

The one thing that really stuck out to me was this sense of community. In the text books, the stories would focus on the effect the character had on the community or their friends and family, rather than focusing on the individual. Along the same lines, it was an eye opener to realize how embedded HIV/AIDS is in the community.  An English assignment, completed by my standard six pupils, was to explain the idiomatic phrase “all that glitters is not gold”. Over half of the class told stories about people having AIDS. One example was about a young boy who fell in love and wanted to marry a very beautiful girl. His parents warned him against it, but he threw their disapproval aside. After they were married he discovered he had AIDS, and the beautiful girl left him, and he died alone. Even though the girl was beautiful, she was not a good wife—All that glitters is not gold. Another example was of a beautiful woman who would turn heads. One day at a community gathering, she was speaking to the crowd when she suddenly fell down and died. It was later discovered that she had AIDS—All that glitters is not gold.

In teaching them, they taught me more about myself and my own country.  I plan on returning next summer; finances permitting.

--Breanne Lash, Anthropology Minor

Adapted from Bodley 2000.

Cultural Anthropology
The American Anthropological Association is the first site students should visit to help determine what positions are available in anthropology and what skills they need.

Applied Anthropology
This is a site that offers many opportunities with service organizations, including those that require a social science background and work in a multicultural setting.

This is a great source offered by the Society for American Anthropology that offers career opportunities for students.

This is an archaeology site that is geared more for those persons with an interest in cultural resource management.

Physical Anthropology
This is a useful site for those seeking a non-academic career in physical anthropology.

Forensic Anthropology
This site contains student information related osteology and forensics, and schools that offer study in these fields.

Forensic Anthropology
This Web site provides detailed advice and explanations about the career of a forensic anthropologist.

This is a very thorough site that gives succinct information about becoming a primatologist.

Summer Internship/ Job Opportunities
This is a site for those seeking both internships and full-time jobs.

Archaeology Field Work
This site provides archaeologist employment listings, volunteer opportunities, announcements, archaeology in the news, etc.

Midwest Archaeology Conference and more