archaeologist, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
“Any groundbreaking work should trigger [questions]. Often archaeology offers perspective that can unsettle modern society, and the idea that we are unique. Especially western society.”
From a young age, Wade Campbell wanted to better understand how the world came to be as it is, so it isn’t surprising that he’s carved out a career in science that straddles the past and the present.
Originally from the Four Corners region of Arizona and New Mexico, Wade is a member of the Navajo Nation. His research interests developed from his sense of curiosity and connection to the Southwest. Key questions like --what is the historical and current relationship between Natives and the Spanish? How did communities form? Why do places have certain names? When does Navajo history truly begin?-- led Wade to develop an interest in better understanding the role of the Navajo in the early Spanish colonial Southwest.
Before college, his parents told him to “go away and see the world, if you come back, bring that back with you.” While pursuing his education, he worked in West Africa during the political unrest of the Gaddafi regime. During this volatile-- and often scary-- period, he learned how interrelated archaeology and politics are, and how important understanding context is to historical records.
As Wade considers the issues and records of the past, he also finds the connections and relevancy of these with current public health and welfare issues – especially as they relate to the Navajo Nation and other tribal communities. But while archaeology provided him with tools and a method for addressing questions that matter deeply to him, he’s also keenly aware of the historical damage that archeologists have imposed upon indigenous groups and actively works to rebuild lost trust between science and his people.
Science, for Wade, is fluid and fundamental. And archaeology in particular is also a puzzle. How do we glean information from the past? Can this information, though rooted it the past, provide a new perspective that can inform our beliefs and actions? Wade believes it can, and does.