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1980 – 2020

The Department of American Studies mourns the death of our friend and colleague, Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote. We miss her sharp wit and dry humor. We miss those quotidian moments on campus where a chance conversation with her opened the door to some aspect of our intellectual lives that needed exploration, and yes, a rethinking of beauty in this world. These moments, in particular, will remain with us through her work, Crafting an Indigenous Nation: Kiowa Expressive Culture in the Progressive Era (UNC Press, 2019). We join the expressions of deep loss and grief among colleagues and community members across this country and in the world of art, culture and ideas.

Dr. Tone-Pah-Hote came to Carolina and our department through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity (CPPFD) in the fall of 2009. She joined our faculty in 2011 and has been an invaluable colleague in our American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) concentration. Her generous Departmental service includes a term as coordinator of that concentration, membership on the Graduate Studies Committee, and as organizer of the American Studies Colloquium and Guest Speaker Series. She taught courses in Native American art, artists, and material culture, and in the history of Indians in the West and on the Kiowa (of which she is a member), as well as a broader survey of 20th Century Native America and the required core course in the AIIS concentration. In short, she was at the heart of who we are as a department at Carolina.

Dr. Tone-Pah-Hote left us too early, but as a scholar, she left us with her luminous book – a work that takes on identity, gender, performance, and art in Kiowa culture. Her scholarship joins a robust conversation and creates new avenues for a field wrestling with how Native and Indigenous nations determine belonging and survive amidst extreme interference and appropriation by outsiders. She writes within AIIS’s highest purpose—to interrogate and critique the power of governments to redirect Native and Indigenous people from self-determination, while spotlighting that self-determination as a strategy to approach a future that survives through material cultures that sustain, document, and yes, resist the sometimes ugly course of history. She does this with a historical and material culture lens, affirming how Kiowa have moved through resistance to celebrate survival, and through tradition to emphasize innovation. She argues that Kiowa cultural producers willfully and deliberately engaged modernity; and in her own words notes “the present is nothing more than the past foretold,” and that Native people act accordingly. In a distinct way, American Indian and Indigenous Studies gives this principle coherence and meaning, and few emerging scholars provide this as well as Dr. Tone-Pah-Hote.

Please keep her lifetime partner and spouse, our colleague Dr. Keith Richotte and their young son, Steven in your thoughts.

In future, we will post a few remembrances of Dr. Tone-Pah-Hote below and will update and share them with you. Please send your own to