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Alice Beck Kehoe

Alice Beck Kehoe

American anthropologist
Alice Beck Kehoe
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American anthropologist
Is Anthropologist Archaeologist
From United States of America
Type Social science
Gender female
The details


Alice Beck Kehoe (born 1934, New York City) is an anthropologist. She has done research in the field and has authored several books on Native America and Native American history.


She attended Barnard College and Harvard University, from which she received her PhD in Anthropology. While a student at Barnard, she was influenced by James Ford, Gordon Ekholm, and Junius Bird; she worked summers at the American Museum of Natural History Anthropology Department. While at Harvard, she worked with Gordon Willey and Evon Vogt. Many of her influences have been colleagues such as David H. Kelley, Jane Kelley, Jennifer Brown, Robert L. Hall, George F. Carter and his students Stephen C. Jett and Carl Johannesen.


Kehoe taught at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln before teaching at Marquette University, from which she retired in 2000 as professor emeritus. She resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kehoe has held offices with the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and was president of the Central States Anthropological Society (CSAS).

Kehoe has studied many aspects of Native America and is a strong believer in the theoretical link between the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC) (of the Native southeastern U.S.) and Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Her principal area of interest is the archaeology and cultures of the northwestern plains of the U.S. While searching for an ethnographic research topic for her dissertation, she happened upon the Saskatchewan Dakota New Tidings Ghost Dance. Kehoe has worked many years with the Blackfoot or Niitsitapi Nation, an Algonquian Native American group of Browning, Montana, with whom she visits each year to study their history and culture. She has studied Native American spiritual healers ("medicine people") and worked with Piakwutch, "an elderly deeply respected Cree man who served his Saskatchewan Cree community...".:60 She has also worked among Native Americans of Bolivia at Lake Titicaca, where she chewed coca leaves with Native women of the region.:70 Her interest in pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts led to her meeting Richard Nielsen, who asked her to advise on archaeological aspects while testing the Kensington Runestone of Minnesota, which Kehoe is satisfied was indeed not a 19th-century hoax but rather actual runic writing by members of a Scandinavian voyage to North America in the 14th century.

The Kensington Runestone convinced Kehoe of a different North American history than what we've been taught for decades. She states::

"It has been conventional to treat American history as if it were identical with United States history. Such a myopic view cuts students off from the context in which the United States developed, a larger history that will not go away. America's history begins some fourteen thousand years ago ... Invading Europeans met no wilderness, but landscapes and resources rendered through millennia of human actions.":1

In her many years of teaching and writing, Kehoe has emphasized the importance of critical thinking in looking at anthropology, archaeology, and history, particularly as it pertains to Native America. She speaks of the "limited and biased archaeological record" (2007:personal communication) of the Americas and of how many archaeologists were molded by preconceptions of ancient Amerindians having been "savage" or "primitive" and incapable of having "real" civilizations in European terms. Kehoe minces few words in her distaste for such tunnel-visioned attitudes, stating, for example, "...the massive mounds of the Midwest, most of them larger than any prehistoric mounds in Europe, could not be accommodated in a scenario of virgin wilderness inhabited by Men-Brutes...":164 and "The history of American archaeology ... is a remarkable example of post-hoc objectification of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. From its inception, American archaeology has been politically charged, legitimating domination of North America by capitalists imbued with British bourgeois culture".:xi

In 2016, Kehoe was honored by the Plains Anthropological Association with its Distinguished Service Award for her "enduring work in Anthropology and Archaeology of the Great Plains".


  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (1989). The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. ISBN 978-1577664536. 
  • Kehoe, Alice B. (1992). North American Indians: A Comprehensive Account (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0131928763. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (1998). Humans: An Introduction to Four-Field Anthropology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415919845. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (1998). The Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of American Archaeology. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415920544. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck; Emmerichs, Mary Beth, eds. (1999). Assembling the Past: Studies in the Professionalization of Archaeology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0826319395. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2000). Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577661627. 
  • Sterk, Helen M.; Hay, Carla H.; Kehoe, Alice B.; Ratcliffe, Krista; VendeVusse, Leona G. (2002). Who's Having this Baby? Perspectives on Birthing. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 978-0870136153. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2002). America Before the European Invasions. New York: Longman. ISBN 978-0582414860. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2005). The Kensington Runestone: Approaching a Research Question Holistically. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577663713. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck; Pleger, Thomas C. (2007). Archaeology: A Concise Introduction. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland Press. ISBN 978-1577664505. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2008). Controversies in Archaeology. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Left Coast Press. ISBN 978-1598740615. 
  • Kehoe, Alice Beck (2012). Militant Christianity: An Anthropological History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137282149. 
  • Wissler, Clark; Kehoe, Alice Beck; Miller, Stewart E. (2012). Amskapi Pikuni: The Blackfeet People. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1438443355. 
  • Kehoe, Alice (2014). A Passion for the True and Just: Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen and the Indian New Deal. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0816530939. 
  • Kehoe, Alice (2016). Traveling Prehistoric Seas: Critical Thinking on Ancient Transoceanic Voyages. Walnut Creek, Calif.: Left Coast Press. ISBN 978-1-62958-067-8. 

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