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About Douglas Deur

Dr. Douglas Deur’s research focuses on the intersection between culture, place, and environment. Much of his work explores in cultural and historical context how deeply-rooted human communities relate to the lands and natural habitats of their home places. Working closely with Native American knowledge holders and multidisciplinary research teams, he seeks to illuminate misunderstood environmental traditions, such as tribes’ ecological knowledge and management of particular plants, animals, and habitats. He directs ethnobotanical studies for tribes and agencies, especially in the Northwest, and integrates findings into resource-management plans and restoration projects aimed at respecting and embodying traditional knowledge. From the Alaskan arctic to the Mexican border, he directs research sponsored by the U.S. National Park Service, relating to both Native and settler communities’ longtime connections to park lands—in support of NAGPRA repatriation efforts, Traditional Cultural Property documentation, dispute resolution efforts relating to natural resource access on protected lands, and other management challenges. In addition, his research addresses culturally significant and contested landscapes, such as sacred places or customary natural resource harvest areas affected by modern development. This often involves collaboration with Native communities in documenting landscapes of cultural significance as they seek to articulate their concerns and reduce the adverse effects of tourism, mining, and energy development. Dr. Deur’s writings are frequently coauthored with Native American scholars and elders; an even larger proportion has limited distribution due to its sensitive content. He has received several awards for his academic writing and research, while his popular foraging guidebook has appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. Adopted Kwakwaka’wakw, he also holds advanced degrees in both geography and anthropology. He serves as an advisor to nonprofits, and is currently serving his first term as a governor-appointed Commissioner to the department overseeing Oregon’s parks, beaches, scenic waterways, and cultural heritage. 


Present Associate Research Professor, Portland State University Anthropology

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Honors and Awards

  • “Plant Management Systems of British Columbia’s First Peoples” won the Theodore Blegen Award for best journal article on environmental history in 2014
  • “A Most Sacred Place” won the Joel Palmer Award Honorable Mention for Oregon historical writing from the Oregon Historical Society in 2003
  • “Rethinking Precolonial Plant Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America” won the Association of American Geographers’ Warren J. Nystrom Award

Articles (18)

Books (5)

Reports (6)