The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

History of the High Plains Society

This page gives some background on our organization's founding and development over its more than three decades of professional service and networking. 

History of the Ghost Ranch Retreat

by Carla Littlefield, HPSfAA Archivist

Since 1992 HPSfAA has held an annual “retreat” at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center near Abiquiu, New Mexico. The goal is to supplement our spring Annual Conference with another opportunity for discussion, sharing, and support. Board member Mary Granica originally recommended Ghost Ranch for its awesome scenery, rustic accommodations, and a connection with Georgia O’Keeffe. The site also had the advantage of being convenient for our members to the south and southwest of Colorado, primarily Oklahoma and Arizona.

The initial vision for the fall meeting included informality, free time for hiking and exploring, minimal structure, and student participation. Peter Van Arsdale led our first program, taking us through the basic steps of strategic planning. The discussion resulted in vision statements, mission statements, and goal statements that are still relevant for our organization.  Subsequent programs included Visual Anthropology (1998), Designing our Future (1999), Storytelling and Anthropology (2000), An Organization and its Journal (2002), Stories From the Field (2003), Cultural Encounters with Northern New Mexico (2004), Gravesites of the Southwest (2005), and the Old Spanish Trail (2007).

The Ghost Ranch experience leaves plenty of time for deep thought, recreation, and innovation.In 2000 Ph.D. student Kurt Mantonya led a pre-retreat tour of Chaco Canyon; in 2002 he followed up with a pre-retreat field trip to Salmon Ruins. Student presentations have always been a mainstay of the retreat. Reed Riner of Northern Arizona University began the tradition with his interns who reported on their summer experiences. Members have found that the setting is ideal for students to interact with other anthropologists and get supportive feedback on their pursuit of the anthropological perspective. For everyone, the weekend offers a respite from the home routine and stresses, along with the promise to return refreshed and renewed.

Preserving the Society's History

Do you have items you think should be included as part of HPSfAA's archives? This might be documents relating to the group's founding or development; minutes of board or committee meetings; early copies of publications; photos of events; and so on.

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