Nancy Oestreich Lurie

Nancy Oestreich Lurie

Nancy Oestreich Lurie (b. January 29, 1924 in Milwaukee, WI) is a distinguished American anthropologist who specializes in the study of North American Indian history and culture. She received her B. A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1945) and graduated with an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (1947) and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University (1952). There she met her husband, historian Edward Lurie; they married in 1951 and divorced amicably in 1963. Lurie’s research specialties are ethnohistory, action anthropology and museology; her areal focus is on North American Indians, especially the Ho-Chunk (aka Winnebago) and the Dogrib (Taicho) of the Canadian NWT; and the comparative study of territorial minorities.


Professional Activities

Lurie was a professor of anthropology (1963–1972) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a visiting scholar with a Fulbright-Hay Lectureship in Anthropology at the University of Aarhus, Denmark (1965–66), and head curator of anthropology (1972–1992) at the Milwaukee Public Museum. She began her teaching career in 1947 as an instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Extension Division, where she spent two years, taught one quarter at the University of Colorado, and five years at the University of Michigan, largely as a part-time lecturer.

Between 1954 and 1963, Lurie worked frequently as a researcher and expert witness for tribal petitioners in cases brought before the U. S. Indian Claims Commission, including Lower Kutenai(Ktunaxa), Lower Kalispel(Kalispel), Quileute, Sac and Fox Nation, Winnebago (aka Ho-Chunk), Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Eastern Potawatomi; after 1963 she appeared as an expert witness in regard to the Wisconsin Chippewa and Menominee in federal courts. As a result of research in Indian claims she became an active voice in the development of the field of ethnohistory.

She served as Assistant Coordinator to Professor Sol Tax, University of Chicago, in The American Indian Chicago Conference of 1961. This was a major test of his concept of Action Anthropology: assist in finding means to empower groups/communities seeking help to identify their own objectives and take charge of accomplishing them. She used this experience (1962–1975) in Action projects with the Wisconsin Winnebago, the United Indians of Milwaukee, and the Menominee.

She was appointed to the State of Wisconsin Historical Preservation Review Board (1972–1979), served on review committees of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities during the 1970s and 1980s, was a member of the board of trustees for the Center for the Study of American Indian History of the Newberry Library in Chicago (now the D'Arcy McNickle Center...), and served on the editorial board for Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA (1978–1980). She also served on the editorial boards of two volumes of the Handbook of North American Indians (1970–1978). She received research grants from the American Philosophical Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, University of Chicago Lichtenstern Fund, and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

She held elected and appointed offices in various anthropological organizations and in 1983-1985 was elected President of the American Anthropological Association. In 2006 she received the Association's Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. She has received numerous awards and citations in recognition of her service to American Indian and other organizations and is the recipient of three honorary doctorates.[1]

While retired, living in Milwaukee (WI), Professor Lurie still remains an active scholar.[2]

Selective Research in Print

Lurie’s publications include the role of women in anthropology;[3] on action anthropology;[4] museum studies;[5] Great Lakes Indians (especially Wisconsin) [6] as well as the Dogrib Indians of the Canadian Northwest Territories;[7] Indian land claims;[8] and the development of the interdisciplinary field of ethnohistory;[9] Lurie has authored studies of the Menominee,[10] and about the field of anthropology.[11] She has edited,[12] coauthored or coedited several volumes;[13] as well as contributed to other symposia.[14] She has published more broadly on the American Indian.[15] Most recently she has edited family letters that go beyond personal memoirs to include observations about the gaslight era, WWI, the flu epidemic, women's suffrage, prohibition and other events. "Love and Other Letters" (Milwaukee, WI: Milwaukee County Historical Society,2010). </ref>

See also


  1. ^ Doctor of Letters, 1976, Northland College, Ashland, WI; Doctor of Humanities, 1995, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Doctor of Letters and Science, 2004, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  2. ^ Most of this section is based upon consultation with Dr. Lurie, November/December 2009.
  3. ^ 1966) “Women in Early American Anthropology,” in Pioneers of American Anthropology: the Uses of Biography, ed. June Helm (Seattle: University of Washington Press): 43-54; reprinted as a monograph, (1999) Women and the Invention of American Anthropology (Long Grove, IL:Waveland Press);
  4. ^ (1973) ”Action Anthropology and the American Indian,” in James Officer, ed., Anthropology and the American Indian (S. F.: Indian Historian Press): 5-15;
  5. ^ (1976) “Not Built in a Day,”Lore, 26(3) as an entire issue and in Milwaukee Public Museum Publications in Museology, 6 (30pp). (1976) “American Indians and Museums: A Love-Hate Relationship,” The Old Northwest, 2(3): 235-251. 1981) “Museumland Revisited,” Human Organization, 40(2): 180-187. (1983); ‘’A Special Style: the Milwaukee Public Museum, 1882-1982’’ (Milwaukee Public Museum), reprinted 1992;
  6. ^ (1960) “Winnebago Prohistory,” in Stanley Diamond, ed., ‘’Culture in History: Essays in Honor of Paul Radin’’ (NY: Columbia University Press): 790–808. (1969) Wisconsin Indians (Madison: State Historical Society); reprinted 1978; expanded and revised ed. 2002. (1971) “Menominee Termination,” as an article in Indian Historian, 4(4): 32-45 and as a separate monograph (San Francisco: Indian Historian Press). 1978) “Winnebago,” in Northeast, vol. 15, ed. Bruce G. Trigger, of Handbook of North American Indians (Wash., D. C.: Smithsonian Institution): 690-707;
  7. ^ (1961) with June Helm, Subsistence Economy of the Dogrib Indians of Lac La Martre in the MacKenzie District of the N. W. T. (Ottawa: Dept. of Northern Affairs and National Resources); (1966) with June Helm and including Gertrude P. Kurath, ‘’The Dogrib Handgame,’’ Bulletin 205 (Ottawa: National Museum of Canada); (2000) The People of Denendeh: Ethnohistory of the Indians of Canada’s Northwest Territories, ed. June Helm, with contributions by Teresa S. Carterette and Nancy O. Lurie(Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press).
  8. ^ (1955) “Problems, Opportunities, and Recommendations,” Ethnohistory, 2 (fall): 357-375. (1956) “Reply to Land Claims Cases,” Ethnohistory, 3 (Sum): 256-276; (1967) “The Indian Claims Commission Act,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 311: 56-70. (1972) “The Indian Claims Commission,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 436 (March): 97-110;
  9. ^ (1961) “Ethnohistory: An Ethnological Point of View,” Ethnohistory, 8 (1): 79-82.
  10. ^ (1971) “Menominee Termination,” Indian Historian, 4(4): 31-43. (1972) “Menominee Termination: From Reservation to Colony,” Human Organization, 31: 257-269; (1987) “Menominee Termination and Restoration,” in Donald L.Fixico, ed., An Anthology of Western Great Lakes Indians History (Milwaukee: American Indian Studies Program): 439-478.
  11. ^ (1968) “Culture Change,” in James A. Clifton, ed., Introduction to Cultural Anthropology(Boston: Housghton Mifflin): 274–303.
  12. ^ (1961) and translated, Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder: The Autobiography of a Winnebago Woman, introduction by Ruth M. Underhill (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press) reprinted in an Italian edition (Milan: Rusconi Libri, 2002-2006). (1965) “The American Indian Today,” Midcontinent American Studies Journal, 6(2).
  13. ^ (1968) with Stuart Levine, eds., The American Indian Today (Deland, Fl: Everett/Edwards) – this book was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf award sponsored by the Saturday Review, as best scholarly book on intergroup relations for 1968. (1971) with Eleanor B. Leacock, eds., The North American Indians in Historical Perspective (NY: Random House); (2009) with Patrick J. Jung, eds., The Nicolet Corrigenda: New France Revisited, paperback (Long Grove,IL: Waveland Press).
  14. ^ (1985) “Epilogue” in Irredeemable America: the Indians’ Estate and Land Claims, ed. I. Sutton (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press): 363–382. (1988) “Recollections of an Urban Indian Community: The Oneidas of Milwaukee,” ch. 7 in The Oneida Indian Experience: Two Perspectives, eds. Jack Campisi and Laurence M. Hauptman (NY: SyracuseUniv. Press ): 101-107.
  15. ^ (1959) “Indian Cultural Adjustments to European Civilization,” in James Morton Smith, ed., Seventeenth Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press): 36-60.

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