John Welch



  • BA, Anthropology, Hamilton College
  • MA, Anthropology, University of Arizona
  • PhD, Anthropology, University of Arizona


John’s CV

John Welch is a social archaeologist with research interests grounded in broad questions about how culture- and place-based communities define, protect, use, and sustain their biophysical and cultural heritage: How do cultural and historical factors influence whether and how we carry forward places, objects, and traditions? How do heritage-related values and preferences influence governance in general and indigenous sovereignty(s) in particular? What lessons about sustainability and other forms of recommended policy and practice emerge from collaborations with indigenous and place-based communities?

Dr. Welch employs community partnerships as the bases for research, training, and outreach initiatives. The diverse collaborations formalize and advance community agendas to explore what archaeology can do—how archaeological sites, methods, perspectives, and data can enhance land and place histories, stewardship practices, indigenous community capacities, and intercultural reconciliation. The ultimate goal of the work is to harmonize local community, academic, and societal interests relating to landscapes, places, objects, and intangible associations that provide people with orientation, identity, and vitality, as well as food, shelter, and other ecosystem services. 

Dr. Welch has worked for and with the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona for three decades and continues to serve as an adviser on the protection of sacred sites and the redevelopment of the Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark. Dr. Welch was a member of the Steering Committee for the SFU-based Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project. Research and outreach partners in British Columbia include the Tla’amin, Katzie, and Stó:lō First Nations.

Recent Publications

  • Cultural Resources Damage Assessment. Advances in Archaeological Practice 11: 111–125
  • Liberating Trails and Travel Routes in Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Territories from the Tyrannies of Heritage Resource Management Regimes. American Anthropologist 125(1): 1–16.    
  • Native American Fire Management at an Ancient Wildland-Urban Interface in the Southwest US. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (4) e2018733118;
  • “United States shall so legislate and act as to secure the permanent prosperity and happiness of said Indians”: Policy Implications of the Apache Nation’s 1852 Treaty. International Indigenous Policy Journal 12(4).
  • Supporting Indigenous adaptation in a changing climate: insights from the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre (British Columbia) and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation (Arizona). Elementa: Science of the
  • Aboriginal Rights and Title for Archaeologists: A History of Archaeological Evidence in Canadian Litigation. Journal of Social Archaeology 20 (1):1-28.
  • Conserving Contested Ground: Sovereignty-Driven Stewardship by the White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation. In Environmentalism on the Ground: Processes and Possibilities of Small Green Organizing, pp. 73–97, edited by Jonathan Clapperton and Liza Piper. Athabasca University Press.
  • Hope in Dirt: Report of the Fort Apache Workshop on Forensic Sedimentology Applications to Cultural Property Crime, 15–19 October 2018. International Journal of Cultural Property (2019) 26: 197–210. doi:10.1017/S0940739119000092.
  • Archaeology as Therapy: Connecting Belongings, Knowledge, Time, Place, and Well-Being. Current Anthropology 58(4):502-533.
  • Earth, Wind, and Fire: Pinal Apaches, Miners, and Genocide in Central Arizona, 1859-1874. Sage Open (October-December):1-19.


Future courses may be subject to change.