Eldon Yellowhorn

April 12, 2021

Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn is the first Indigenous student to receive a graduate degree in the Department of Archaeology (MA, 1993).

He went on to receive his PhD from McGill University in 2002. He is a professor and founding chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies at SFU. He is also a long-time member of the Canadian Archaeological Association and served as President from 2010-2012.

Dr. Yellowhorn is from the Piikani Nation and has family and cultural ties to the Peigan Indian Reserve. His Piikani name, Otahkotskina, which translates as Yellow Horn, has been in the family for generations. His early career in archaeology began in southern Alberta where he studied the ancient cultures of the plains. He is especially interested in the mythology and folklore of his Piikani ancestors in both ancient and recent times.

Dr. Yellowhorn’s research work in archaeology began with his studies about the ancient history of his Piikani ancestors. He studied plains archaeology in academic and public settings before participating in the heritage consulting industry. He augmented his experience in contract archaeology, conducting impact assessments in advance of terrain altering activities, with historical archaeology research. Since then, he has contributed his skills as an archaeologist to the Missing Children Project initiated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to search for children who died at residential schools.

Dr. Yellowhorn is a native speaker of the Blackfoot language and is working to preserve it and ensure it has a future. He has employed the written version to translate texts of English to Blackfoot and has narrated animated videos that use Blackfoot to teach mathematics. He is now exploring the potential of artificial intelligence to the goal of recruiting citizen linguists to take Blackfoot off the endangered language list and turn it into a boutique language.