April M. Beisaw

Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology

April M. Beisaw is a North American archaeologist who studies cultural change and resilience in the relatively recent past (1300 AD to yesterday). The pressures of a fast-paced world can encourage the uncritical acceptance of stereotypes that serve to explain why “others” are inferior to “ourselves” or may be hindering change that might be viewed as “progress.” Through archaeology, we can challenge stereotypes, remember forgotten events, and imagine new futures. For example, by studying the peoples and places that were sacrificed to construct the New York City water system, April hopes to shift the dialogue from where urban areas find new water sources to who they will take water from. By documenting Native American protest sites from the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz to 2016’s Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps at the Standing Rock reservation, we can see the consistency of calls for America to live up to the treaty promises our government made. The present was created in the past, so the past is our future.

BA, Rutgers University; MA, PhD, Binghamton University
At Vassar since 2012


Blodgett Hall
Box 297

Research and Academic Interests

Indiginous Studies
Archeological Anthropology
Biological Anthropology
Community Engagement
Environmental Studies
Forensic Science

Departments and Programs


ANTH 230 Topics in Archaeology

Selected Publications

  • Beisaw, April M. and Glynnis Olin (2020) From Alcatraz to Standing Rock: Archaeology and Contemporary Native American Protests (1969-Today). Historical Archaeology 54(3): 537-555. DOI 10.1007/s41636-020-00252-6

  • Beisaw, April M. (2020) Telling Ghost Stories: Communicating Across Timescapes and Between World Views. In: Blurring TimeScapes: Subversions to Erasure & Remembering Ghosts. edited by Sara Surface-Evans, Amanda Garrison, and Kisha Supernat. pp. 13-19. Bergan Books.

  • Beisaw, April M. (2020) The Archaeology of Removal in North America. TERRANCE WEIK, editor. 2019. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. Review for American Antiquity.

  • Beisaw, April M. (2019) Stress and Shifting Identities in the Susquehanna Valley Around the Time of European Arrival. In: Contact and Cultural Identity: Recent Studies of the Susquehannocks. edited by Paul Raber. pp. 73-90. Penn State University Press.

  • Beisaw, April M. (2019) A History of America in 100 Maps by Susan Schulten. Living Maps Review 6. http://livingmaps.review/journal/index.php/LMR/issue/view/9/showToc 

  • Beisaw, April M. (2018) Process and Meaning in Spatial Archaeology: Investigations into Pre-Columbian Iroquoian Space and Place. ERIC E. JONES, JOHN L. CREESE, editors. 2017. University Press of Colorado, Norman. Review for American Antiquity 83(1):176-177.
  • Beisaw, April M. (2017) “Ruined by the Thirst for Urban Prosperity: Contemporary Archaeology of City Water Systems.” Contemporary Archaeology and the City: Creativity, Ruination, and Political Action, edited by Laura McAtackney and Krysta Ryzewski. Oxford Press. pp. 132-148.  
  • Beisaw, April M. and Jane E. Baxter (2017) “America’s One-Room Schools: Sites of Regional Authority and Symbols of Rural Autonomy.’ International Journal of Historical Archaeology 21(4):806-826. DOI 10.1007/s10761-017-0402-9
  • Beisaw, April M. and Penelope Duus (2016) “Repatriation as Inspiration: Multi-Generational Perspectives on American Archaeology-Museum Relationships.” Museum Worlds 5(1):95-110.
  • Beisaw, April M. (2016) “Water for the City, Ruins for the Country: Archaeology of New York City’s Watershed.” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 20(3):614-626.
  • Beisaw, April M. (2016) “Ghost Hunting as Archaeology: Archaeology as Ghost Hunting.” Lost City, Found Pyramid: Understanding Alternative Archaeology and Pseudoscientific Practices. edited by Jeb J. Card and David S. Anderson. University of Alabama Press. pp. 185-198.
  • Beisaw, April M. (2015) “Faunal Remains.” The Corey Village and the 16th Century Cayuga World. edited by Jack Rossen. pp. 110-139. Syracuse University Press.
  • Beisaw, April M. (2013) Identifying and Interpreting Animal Bones: A Manual. Texas A&M University Press. 
  • Beisaw, April M. (2012) “Environmental History of the Susquehanna Valley Around the Time of European Contact.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 79(4):366-376.  
  • Beisaw, April M. (2010) “Memory, Identity, and NAGPRA in the Northeastern United States.” American Anthropologist 112(2):244-256. 
  • Beisaw, April M. and James G. Gibb, eds (2009) The Archaeology of Institutional Life. University of Alabama Press.