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The Wabanaki Center
5724 Dunn Hall, Room 314
University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469-5724

Phone: 207-581-1417
Fax: 207-581-4760


Staff Directory

Darren Ranco

Chair of Native American Programs, Coordinator of Native American Research, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2000
MSEL, Studies in Environmental Law, Vermont Law School, 1998
B.A., Anthropology and Classical Studies, Dartmouth College, 1993

Professional Interests:

I have a joint appointment in the George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research and in Native American Programs, where I serve as Chair of Native American Programs and Coordinator of Native American Research. My research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems, rooted in colonial contexts, continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. I teach classes on indigenous intellectual property rights, research ethics, environmental justice and tribal governance. A member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, I am particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities.

Representative Publications:

  • (with Dean Suagee) “Tribal Sovereignty and the Problem of Difference in Environmental Regulation: Observations on ‘Measured Separatism’ in Indian Country.” 2007. Antipode 39 (4): 691-707.
  • “The Indian Ecologist and the Politics of Representation: Critiquing the Ecological Indian in the Age of Ecocide.”2007. In Perspectives on the Ecological Indian: Native Americans and the Environment, Michael Harkin and David Rich Lewis, eds. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 32-51.
  • “Toward a Native Anthropology: Hermeneutics, Hunting Stories, and Theorizing From Within.” 2006, Wicazo Sa Review 21(2): 61-78.
  • (with Anna Fleder) “Tribal Environmental Sovereignty: Cultural Appropriate Protection or Paternalism?” 2005. Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law 19 (1): 35-58.
  • “Ethics and Regulation in American Indian Environments: Embracing Autonomy and the Environmental Citizen.” 2005. In War and Border Crossings: Ethics When Cultures Clash, Peter French and Jason Short, eds. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 239-253.
  • ” Review of Real Indians: Portraits of Contemporary Native Americans and America’s Tribal Colleges,” in Winds of Change, volume 18, number 4 (Fall 2003), pp. 88-89.
  • “Northeastern Native Americans.” 2001. In The Native North American Almanac, Duane Champagne, ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Publishers, pp. 267-276.
  • “Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, and American Indians: Exploring the Logic of Genocide.” In Bad Subjects, volume 55 (May 2001), pp. 9-12.


Tel: (207) 581-1801
Fax: (207) 581-1823

Department of Anthropology
University of Maine
5773 S. Stevens Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5773

John Bear Mitchell, MEd
Wabanaki Center Outreach and Student Development Coordinator
University of Maine Native American Waiver Coordinator
Lecturer of Wabanaki Studies

John Bear Mitchell is a member of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island in Maine. He presently serves as the Associate Director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine in Orono and University of Maine Native Program Waiver Coordinator. He also teaches Intro. to Wabanaki History and Contemporary Issues, Multicultural and Diversity, and team teaches an Ethnomath class. He received his Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters of Educational Leadership at the University of Maine.
Before taking his position at the University of Maine, he was the Native Studies teacher at the Indian Island School. His main goal was to develop and teach an appropriate Native Studies program relevant to the Wabanaki people. He was appointed by his tribal council to serve as a member of the Wabanaki Education Committee, which was an outcome of a bill passed by the Maine Legislature to require teaching of Wabanaki Studies in all Maine schools at all grade levels. He has served on numerous museum and educational boards throughout the state with missions based on Maine’s Wabanaki people. John was a native consultant and a participant in the PBS series Colonial House.
For 10 years John visited schools in Maine as a Maine Touring Artist delivering an Arts in Education program. During that time, he visited over 150 schools. While working his way through college, he toured with the Native American Storytellers of New England. He presented a traditional and contemporary program in Native American Stories and Song. His singing and storytelling can be heard in many Maine PBS, tribal sponsored awareness videos, and other documentaries with topics on Maine’s Native People.





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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469