Rebecca J. Dobkins

Professor of Anthropology

History and Interests

Joined Willamette faculty in 1996, after working as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Interests include museum studies, Native American contemporary and traditional arts, Maori (New Zealand) arts, and the indigenous peoples, human rights, and the environment. As a curator at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Dobkins has organized exhibitions of Native American art that have toured nationally and internationally. Projects include the exhibition The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon, which was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts 2008 American Masterpieces grant. Dobkins is the faculty supervisor for the Chemawa Indian School-Willamette University Partnership Program, a collaborative community service learning project.

Exhibitions Curated at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art

  • Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25, 2017, traveling to Washington State University-Pullman Schnitzer Museum of Art, Whatcom Museum of Art, Bellingham, and Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa

  • Marie Watt: Lodge, 2012 (traveled to Tacoma Art Museum)

  • Ancestral Dialogues: Conversations in Native American Art, 2011, ongoing (reinstallation of permanent Collection)
  • The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon, 2008-09 (traveled to Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, The Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon Historical Society)
  • Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs, 2008 (traveled to Missoula Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum)
  • Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts Biennials (2008, 2010, 2012)

Recent Publications

2017 Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25.  Salem, OR: Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University. Distributed by University of Washington Press.  With essay co-authored with heather ahtone and essay by Prudence F. Roberts.  160 pp.

2012 Marie Watt: Lodge. Salem, OR: Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University. Distributed by University of Washington Press. 110 pp.

2009 Life Stories for New Generations: The Living Art of Oregon Tribal Regalia. Oregon Historical Quarterly 110: 420-439.

2009. Foreword. Leonard F. Chana: Tohono O’odham, Leonard Chana, Susan Lobo and Barbara Chana. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

2008 The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon. Hallie Ford Museum of Art. (booklet, 16 pp.)

2008 Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs. Seattle: University of Washington Press, in association with Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University. A volume in the Jacob Lawrence Series on American Artists. With essays by Barbara Earl Thomas and Gail Tremblay. 126 pp.

2008 James Lavadour: The Properties of Paint. Salem, OR: The Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University. (booklet, 8 pp.)

Conference Papers and Invited Lectures

2017, October 28. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts at 25: A Reservation-Based Print Studio Comes of Age.  In panel co-organized with heather ahtone (University of Oklahoma).  Native American Art Studies Association Biennial Conference. Tulsa, OK. 

2017, May 26. Using Museum Collections in Teaching Anthropology: Making it Happen.  Panel discussion.  Council for Museum Anthropology Museum Futures Conference.  Montreal, Canada.  

2016, November 16.  Contemporary Access to Ancestral Lands in Oregon for the purpose of Traditional Plant Harvest: Addressing the History of Dispossession.  Oregon Migrations, an Oregon Historical Quarterly Symposium.  University of Oregon, Eugene, OR.  Invited.  

2016, October 1.  Cultural Plant Harvests on Federal Lands: 2016 Publication of Research with Northwest Weavers.  With co-authors Ceara Lewis and Susan Hummel. Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association.  Chehalis, WA. 

2016, April 2.  Access and Management Issues for Cultural Plant Harvests: Perspectives from Members of the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association.  Society for Applied Anthropology.  Vancouver, B.C. 

2015, November 12.  The Chemawa Indian School: From Assimilation to Affirmation, 1880-2015.  Invited Panel on Where We Learn: The Politics of Access, 12th Annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies.  Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR.  Invited. 

2015, October 1.  Contention and Curation:  The Future of Native American Art.  Panel co-organized with Wendy Red Star.  Native American Art Studies Association Biennial Conference.  Santa Fe, N.M. 

2015, June 4.  Reframing Revitalization: Curatorial Reflections on the Legacy of Frank Day. Invited Panel:  Paintings and Words: A Deferred Reenactment of the Encounter between Konkow Maidu Artist Frank Day (1902-1976) and Anthropology.  Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.  Washington, D.C.  

2015, March 28. Gathering Power: From Guidance to Governance in the Management of Customary Weaving Resources.  With Alfred “Bud” Lane III.  Invited Keynote Presentation at Whiria: Weaving Global Connections Symposium, Rotorua, New Zealand.  

2013, November 22.  Finding Molly’s Story:  Connecting Archival Records with Contemporary Native Communities.  Museum Methodologies and Collaborations: Papers in Honor of Nancy Parezo.  American Anthropological Association, Chicago, IL. 

2013, August 8.  Fellowship of the Rim: The Impact of The Eternal Thread in the Pacific Northwest.  Pacific Arts Association Symposium.  Vancouver, B.C.

2011, November. Collaborative Curation: Redefining American Masterpieces. Invited Session: Querying Art and Tradition, in honor of Nelson H.H. Graburn. American Anthropological Association. Montreal, QC.

2011, October. Performing in Print: Wendy Red Star and James Luna at Crow’s Shadow. Native American Art Studies Association. Ottawa, ON.
2011, May 18. Aboriginal Ways of Knowing: Native North American Perspectives. School of Indigenous Studies Lecture, University of Western Australia, Perth.
2011, May 13. The Art of Ceremony: Knowledge and Practice in the Indigenous Pacific Northwest. Department of Anthropology Seminar, University of Western Australia, Perth.

2009, November 21. Panelist. Roundtable on Northern Quebec: James Bay & Nunavik, ACSUS 2009 Northern Faculty Development Institute and Study Tour. Association for Canadian Studies in the United States 2009 Conference, San Diego, CA

2009, November 18. Keynote Panel Speaker. 12th Annual State-Tribal Government to Government Summit. Salem, OR.

2009, October 20. Curating Native Space in the Mainstream Museum. Panelist. Streams: 2009 Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums Conference. Portland, OR.

2009, May. What is an American Masterpiece? Oregon Tribes Answer the NEA. Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Awards and Fellowships

  • Willamette University Center for the Study of Religion, Law, and Democracy, 2012-13
  • Willamette University Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, 2010-11
  • Willamette University Center for Sustainable Communities, 2010-11
  • Northern Quebec Faculty Development Institute, Association for Canadian Studies in the US, 2009
  • Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowship of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, 2007-2009

Major Grants

  • National Endowment for the Arts Art Works (for commission of new work for the Native American Gallery of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, 2011-13)
  • National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence (for reinstallation of permanent collection, Native American Gallery at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art), 2010
  • National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant (for The Art of Ceremony project), 2008-09
  • National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Native American Visual Arts Award, (for the publication of Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs), 2008
  • National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Program (for The Art of Ceremony project, Hallie Ford Museum of Art), 2007

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. 1995
  • M.A., English, University of California, Berkeley. 1990
  • B.A., Women's Studies, Summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 1983