Carolyn McSherry, a UNM Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, will present a talk on "Bounding the Collective: Territory, Economy and Ecology in the Soil Conservations Services Navajo Project" at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 29 in the Waters Room (105) of Zimmerman Library.

McSherry's research explores the ways that territory sets context for people and how ecology and economy are thought to correspond to those boundaries.  She uses the Soil Conservation Service records and papers from historian Donald Lee Parman to reveal the contradictions surrounding the Navajo Project in the 1930s.

When John Collier joined the Roosevelt administration in 1933 as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, he set out to reconfigure the relationship of the United States to its Indian wards.  The new commissioner critiqued the allotment policy which since 1877 had worked to disburse tribal land holdings to individuals and thereby undermine tribal claims to land, resources and political power.

Under the title of cultural pluralism, he sought to re-tribalize landholdings and institute some version of self-rule.  In part through his work with soil scientists of the Soil Conservation Service, Collier developed a parallel interest in land conservation and its implications for self-sufficiency (proper use of land for the collective well being).  This is what McSherry will discuss in her lecture.

The lecture is co-hosted by the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections at University Libraries, the Office of the State Historian and the Historical Society of New Mexico.  Funding for the fellowships is made possible through the generosity of individuals and not-for-profit organizations including the Ellison Family Grant, the King/Carpenter Foundation, the Historical Society of New Mexico's Paul Carpenter Education Fund, the Jane Sanchez Legacy Fund and the Center for Regional Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; email: