Indian Times
7:56 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

New Director Of Native American Studies Returns To Her Roots

Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw) is the new director of the Native American Studies program at the University of Oklahoma. She is enthusiastic about the job that has brought her full circle.

Credit Amanda Cobb-Greetham

Cobb-Greetham grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and earned her undergraduate degree at Southeastern Oklahoma University in Durant. She became very interested in Chickasaw history and culture. The high number of native faculty attracted her to University of Oklahoma.  

“I studied with Geary Hobson, Alan Velie and Catherine Hobbs and specialized in Native American Literature and Native American Studies more broadly,” Cobb-Greetham said.

After completing her Ph.D. in English, she set out to see the world. But, as she put it, she “got as far as New Mexico”…teaching at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico.

She eventually received a call from the Chickasaw Nation asking her to work on the Holissa Research Center and the Chickasaw Press.

“So I actually came home to work on that and then the way things sort of one thing leads to another and I find myself in charge of the cultural center, the whole cultural center project,” Cobb-Greetham said.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center is considered one the premiere tribal facilities.

“I worked on that three years through construction and then the launching of it and then I stayed with it two years after our opening,” Cobb-Greetham said.

But Cobb-Greetham says she set out in her life to be a college professor. She feels education is her “calling.”

“After the Cultural Center had been open for two years, I started to feel like, okay, I have completed this once in a lifetime project and it is doing well and it is what it’s supposed to be and now it’s time to return to the academy, to teaching and reading and writing,” Cobb-Greetham said. “When the job came open at OU it combines administrative work and program building, like I loved doing at the Chickasaw Nation, with teaching, reading and writing. And it was at my own home institution, so I felt like it’s the right place for me to be.”

Cobb-Greetham is the fifth director of the interdisciplinary Native American studies program that draws from several departments and colleges across OU. She says the program has built a solid foundation over the past 15 years, and in the past three it’s hired two full-time faculty members.

OU is positioned at the center of a state with 39 federally recognized tribal nations, and Cobb-Greetham says location is a big asset for the program.

“I can't think of any other university in the nation that is situated to have such collaborative partnerships and engagement with that many diverse and sovereign tribal nations,” Cobb-Greetham said. “The Native American Studies program at the University of Oklahoma is poised to be the leading Native American Studies department in the country.”

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