“It is not I who create myself, but rather I happen to myself” – C.G. Jung

“when i tell my story/ what is the story/ it tells to me?” – from Silent They Are Lit, 2004

Left: in Tilden Park, Berkeley, during graduate school; Right: on research assignment in New Mexico, for the East-West Center, Honolulu

Growing up in rural towns – first, near a papermill in the Pacific Northwest, and then in a small town in the Central Valley of Southern California – as a mixed ethnicity (Native American, white) child, I developed an early concern for social justice, and issues of poverty and oppression. After attending community college, I earned a B.A. and M.A. in English literature at California State University, Fullerton.  Then I embraced anthropology – and eventually, critical discourse analysis – as a way to integrate my activist commitment with in-depth knowledge of cultures inside and outside the U.S.  My goal was to do research and practice that made a positive difference in the world. I earned my Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i in Honolulu.  The mentor who most shaped the anthropologist I became was Sir Raymond Firth.  Sir Raymond took a particular interest in my work, and was a life-long friend until he died in 2002 at the age of 100 years. I also studied with Gregory Bateson as a graduate student. While writing my dissertation and for a year afterwards, I studied at the University of California, Berkeley, with John Gumperz and others at the Language Behavior Research Laboratory – the project that fundamentally shaped interactional sociolinguistics and discourse analysis in the U.S. 

Throughout my career, I have worked on issues important to Native Hawaiians, working-class urban and rural communities on the U.S. Mainland, and especially – with David Welchman Gegeo – the Kwara‘ae people of Mala‘ita, Solomon Islands.

As a senior professor of Sociocultural Studies, and Language, Literacy and Culture, I teach in the School of Education, University of California, Davis, where I am on the Graduate Faculty. I am also a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Ph.D. and M.A./M.S. programs of Anthropology, Linguistics, Human Development, International Agricultural Development, and Community and Regional Development.  I previously taught at CSU Hayward, Harvard Graduate School of Education for nine years, Northeastern University, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for five years.  I also was a Research Associate at the East-West Center for four years, doing projects in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands.

Since becoming disabled by an herbicide accident in 1994,  I have continued to write and publish with David and with my students, while teaching full-time, mentoring a large number of Ph.D. and M.S. students, and pursuing art for social justice.