Indigenous Women and Pre-Contact Rock Art in the Northern Plains Region

Emily Van Alst, Indiana University

Part of the 2022 Archaeology Roadshow



Portland State University Anthropology First Thursday Speaker Series
Monthly speaker series covering current topics in archaeology and anthropology broadly. Hosted by the Portland State University Department of Anthropology.


Petroglyphs in the Northwest Plains region of the United States transmit Indigenous knowledge across generations and require interpretations rooted in Indigenous ontologies to fully contextualize and understand these images. An often-overlooked aspect of this type of research is the role that Indigenous women played in the creation of these images. This talk, which is grounded in methods of Indigenous archaeology and rock art research, will explore how we can improve our interpretations of rock art images by foregrounding Indigenous knowledge, and in particular, Indigenous women’s voices and experiences.

Biographical Information

Emily Van Alst is of Sihasapa Lakota descent. She graduated from Yale University in 2016 with a double major in archaeology and anthropology. Her research focuses on indigenous women’s participation in the creation and use of rock art in pre-contact society on the Northern Plains. She uses the lenses of indigenous archaeology, feminist archaeology, and indigenous feminism to frame her work within a broader social context.