Bear River Applied Anthropology Field School

Landscape - mountains on each side of a river flowing into the ocean  Ocean and coastal range  Person walking on the beach carrying a basket on their back


The Tribal community established a relationship with the Wildlands Conservancy through Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria to implement projects that will re-establish culturally vital landscapes and programs.  These projects will benefit indigenous communities, particularly youth, through implementation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).  Cal Poly Humboldt supports these efforts with the Bear River Applied Anthropology Field School program. This field school program has two major interrelated themes: 

  • An anthropological examination of cultural and linguistic practices and materials.  Students will study modern California life ways, the sociocultural history of northern California, language systems and verbal traditions, and the impact of colonization and development, among other topics.  

  • Archaeology, includes practical training in field techniques and classes relating to California cultures and settlement studies.  Students will make observations of archaeological finds and learn associated field techniques. 

Field School Dates for Summer 2023: July 16-20 online, July 21-22 at Cal Poly Humboldt, and July 24-Aug 5 in the field

  • July 16-20, Aug 6-7 Online: Online work will be available on Canvas. Online work is asynchronous - no scheduled meetings. Prep work from July 16-20 includes media, readings, and website browsing. A final project is due Aug 6-7.
  • July 21-22 at Cal Poly Humboldt: During these two days, students will engage in activities on campus from 9:00am - 5:00pm. Students will be responsible for their own travel/lodging/food during these days.
  • July 24-Aug 5 in the field at the Bear River Band Mattole Property: Students will meet at Cal Poly Humboldt and travel together, via program transportation, to the site. Students will camp at the site during this time - camping fees and meals will be covered by the program fees. At the end of the program, students will be brought back to Cal Poly Humboldt.

Course Credit:

Participants will enroll in the following two courses as part of the program: 

  • ANTH 329 Bear River Culture & Socioecological Change (3 units): This course provides students with training in applied anthropological methods and theories to address socioecological issues involving Indigenous nations in Northern California with a focus on the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. Students will learn from tribal elders and other members, community partners, and other guest speakers on themes related to traditional ecological knowledge, language and cultural revitalization efforts, foodways, the history of settler colonialism in the North Coast, and the social impacts of environmental change.
  • ANTH 359 California Archaeology: Interpreting the Past (3 units): This course is an on-site, practical program in the methods and techniques of archaeological excavation and interpretation, aimed at developing independent research and supervisory skills. On-site training and seminars led by specialists provide students with a challenging engagement with the methods of complex stratigraphic excavation and interpretation, of artifact and environmental studies, and of archaeological research methods.

Application Process: 

  • To apply to the program, fill out the application linked here.
  • The initial deadline to apply is April 14th, 2023
  • Late applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 1 or until the program is full.
  • Applications will be reviewed and participants selected and notified by early May. 
  • If you are accepted, a $125 deposit will be due on May 14th, 2023.  
  • All Cal Poly Humboldt student applicants should meet with their Academic Advisor prior to applying, to see how the program courses may count for their major, minor and/or degree.
  • Please understand that space is limited and those not initially selected will be placed on a waiting list. Although the program is open to students from any university and community members, initial preference for acceptance will be given to members of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria and to Cal Poly Humboldt students.

Fees & Materials:

  • Program fee: $1,020
  • Plus tuition: $1,320 ($220 per unit for 6 units). Current students in Summer 2023 (not yet graduated) might be eligable for a scholarship that will cover half of tuition - this does not need to be applied for in advanced, it will be applied to your student account  (after tuition is charged) if you qualify.
  • If you are accepted, a nonrefundable deposit of $125 will be due by May 14, 2023 (see this PDF with instructions on how to pay)
  • Full fees and tution are due on June 5 - accepted students will receive further information in advance of this date on how to pay in full or make payment arrangements if needed.
  • Fees cover the followingThe program fee includes transportation from Cal Poly Humboldt to the field site and back to Cal Poly Humboldt after, camping fees and meals while in the field, and course instructional and equipment fees.
  • In addition, students will need to cover the cost of the following, not covered by program fees: Cost of travel to and from Cal Poly Humboldt for the on-campus activities and before and after the field component, and personal costs (meals, lodging, etc...) during the on-campus portion of the program. Students are responsible for arranging their own housing for the two on-campus days - dorm rooms may be available (with a fee).
  • Students will need to provide their own basic camping gear (tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag); but Instructors can help students find items to purchase/rent if you don't have them.

Contact Information: