John R. Welch



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


I come to the fields of archaeology and environmental management less a scholar than a practitioner. Growing up in Colorado, I worked on ranches and land survey crews before stints as a crab fisher, wildland firefighter, archaeological field technician, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management staff archaeologist. These jobs prepared me to help the White Mountain Apache Tribe set up its Heritage Program and Historic Preservation Office.  My duties as the Tribe’s HPO meant working with loggers, miners, livestock owners, well drillers, biologists, hydrologists, recreation managers, and road and community builders. Most of all, my responsibilities for helping manage lands under Apache ownership since time immemorial brought opportunities for me to listen, learn, and mobilize Ndee (Western Apache) values, interests and preferences.

Service as a Tribal official, 1997–2005, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation, 1997–present, has also allowed me to keep at least two promises. The first was a personal pledge I made to the Tribe’s leadership to resign as THPO once the Apaches I was working with were able to run the office. The second is a career-scale practical promise: fulfill ethical mandates to use archaeological thinking, methods, places, and knowledge to serve living communities.

As I was preparing to leave my position with the Tribe, SFU Archaeology and REM were recruiting a Canada Research Chair faculty member with expertise working at interfaces between cultural and natural resources and Indigenous and Western ways of learning, doing, and managing. My faculty position has allowed me to craft collaborations with Apaches and other Indigenous peoples on projects to advance both Indigenous sovereignty—that is, rights and responsibilities derived from authority over people and territory—and Indigenous stewardship—that is, sustainable and broadly beneficial uses of sociocultural and biophysical inheritances.

As of 2022, those commitments include service as an expert witness for Apaches, as the director for Archaeology Southwest’s Landscape and Site Protection Program, and as the lead planner for a major new preservation and visitor experience plan for the Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark. I’ve also had the honor of service on the boards of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. My published works center on Ndee history and applied archaeology. Research and outreach partners in British Columbia include the Tla’amin and Katzie First Nations and the Stó:lō Research and Resource Management Centre.

My graduate student recruitment focuses on the HRM Professional Program.

Some recent publications include:

Welch helps direct the Professional Online Graduate Program in Heritage Resource Management and teaches Indigenous Peoples and Co-Management (REM 406), Cultural Heritage Management (ARCH 286), HRM Law and Policy (ARCH 531), and HRM Professional Practice and Ethics (ARCH 541).


Future courses may be subject to change.