Omer C. Stewart: Advocate for Indian Religion and Land Claims
Historical Notes about Applied Anthropology in the United States
Omer C. Stewart
Omer C. Stewart (1908–1991) was a life-long advocate for the American Indian and worked persistently to validate peyotism as a legitimate Indian religion. Trained in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1930s, Stewart worked in the War Department in World War II. Subsequently he founded the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, where he stayed from 1941 until his death. In his 1983 Malinowski Award address, Stewart discussed anthropology’s role in the campaign to prevent government interference with the religious use of peyote. Like several other Malinowski Award recipients, he commented on the lack of training for applied anthropology in the 1930s and the disdain with which the subfield was held by many prominent anthropologists, even those who did occasionally apply anthropology themselves, in this case, in support of Indian land claims and religious rights.