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Gary Witherspoon

Dr. Gary Witherspoon has been teaching in AIS since 1987 and was the first full professor of American Indian Studies at UW. Dr. Witherspoon did his undergraduate work in history and political science at Ohio State and Brigham Young Universities. He did his graduate work in anthropology at the University of Chicago, receiving his Ph.D. in 1970.

Dr. Witherspoon's teaching career began as a Head Start teacher on the Navajo reservation, and continued at the Rough Rock Demonstration School and at the Navajo Community College. Later he became an assistant professor at Yale and an associate and full professor at the University of Michigan (1971-1982). From 1982 to 1987, Dr. Witherspoon was Director of the Navajo Language Institute at the Navajo Academy in Farmington, NM.

Dr. Witherspoon's scholarship includes authoring six books and over 40 articles in journals and chapters in books. Among his six books is Language and Art in the Navajo Universe, which won numerous awards including Book of the Year Award at the University of Michigan in 1977. It was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and was selected by the NY Times Book Review section as one of the top 50 books published in the field of anthropology in the 20th century. The American Anthropologist selected one of Dr. Witherspoon's articles for inclusion in its centennial edition, describing it as one of the best and most representative articles published by the journal in its first hundred years. Dr. Witherspoon has also worked on four ethnographic films and recently has been working with friends and colleagues in producing films for educational purposes.

Dr. Witherspoon teaches AIS 110 - Musical Traditions of Native North America, AIS 113-115 - American Indian Language (Navajo), AIS 203 - Introduction: Philosophical and Aesthetic Universes, and AIS 317 - North American Indians: The Southwest.

for more information regarding Professor Witherspoon and his work is available at