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Faculty Profile

Pei-Lin Yu

Pei-Lin Yu

Cultural Specialist and Affiliate Faculty

Phone: 406-243-2660
Office: Davidson Honors College 003
Office Hours:

Please email me for an appointment.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal Summary

I am trained as an archaeologist, and currently serve as the Cultural Specialist for the National Park Service's Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit.  I am also an affiliate faculty with the Anthropology Department.  I've worked in almost every region of the United States as well as Venezuela and China, and look forward to working with and learning from students and colleagues at the U of MT.

Research Interests

Hunting and gathering cultures; ethnoarchaeology of subsistence, technology, and gender; intensification and origins of food production; traditional and ancient salmon procurement; Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; Climate change and disaster effects on heritage resources and ways to prepare for/prevent; Chinese;Upper Paleolithic archaeology; historic archaeology of Chinese miners;


I do graphic illustration in various media, including scientific illustration. 

Spent several summers as a wildland firefighter (Type II) and really enjoy interacting with fire people.  I still teach the Rx 310 course for NIFC and the Nature Conservancy.

I'm a certified kickboxing instructor and have also trained as a boxer.  More like chess than you might imagine.

Field of Study

My areas of interest are broad but my research specialty is hunting and gathering peoples.  I have experience, and in some cases expertise, in the following research domains:

Foraging intensification--plant based and aquatic based
Evolution or adoption of early agriculture and small scale horticulture
Paleoindian bison bonebed taphonomy
Evolution of projectile technology
Historical archaeology of Chinese miners
Industrial archaeology of hydroelectric dams and powerplants
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (field discoveries and museum collections)
Indigenous knowledge systems and indigenous science
Fire effects and fire management interface with archaeology and traditional cultural properties
Regions worked in: the Southern Cascades, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Southern Appalachians, the Central Valley of California.  Central Venezuela, Central China.

Current Position

Cultural Specialist for the National Park Service's Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Study Unit.  I match University expertise with research and technical needs of national parks and other federal land management agencies.  It's all about climate change these days!  For more information on the Rocky Mountain CESU please visit our website.


I just joined the U of MT as an affiliate faculty and have not yet taught courses here.  Below is a listing of classes previously taught.

3 credit hour/undergraduate:
Hunter Gatherers in Global Perspective
Introduction to Archaeology
Human Evolution
Archaeology of the Pacific Northwest
Cultural Resources Management in Theory and Practice
Graduate seminar: Areal Archaeology: Archaeology of the Columbia River Plateau

 Short seminars (1 credit):
The Human Diet in Evolutionary Perspective
Women, Men, Mobility and Technology
The Archaeology of Climate Change
Living Archaeology: an introduction to Ethnoarchaeology


 I received my BS in Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in 1989, and MA and PhD in Anthropology at Southern Methodist University, 2006.  My dissertation advisor was Lewis R. Binford. 

Dissertation:  Pit Cooking and Intensification in the American Southwest and Pacific Northwest.

Specialized Skills

University level instruction of archaeology and historic preservation courses; knowledge of federal heritage management laws, regulations, policies and guidelines; NAGPRA consultation, documentation, disposition and repatriation; museum property management; archaeological site damage assessment for law enforcement investigations; archaeological survey, testing and excavation; and mapping using electronic transit, topographic maps and aerial photographs; basic GIS/ArcView mapping; faunal bone identification and analysis; basic lithic and ceramic analysis. Oral history interviewing. Professional technical editing and scientific illustration.  Languages: Spanish, French, Pumé Indian, Latin, Mandarin.

Proficient in SPSS, MS Access, MS Excel, and Arc GIS. Type II Wildland Firefighter 1988-’89, 2000-’02. Type 65 wpm.

Teaching Experience

Please see current courses.

Professional Experience

My archaeological career began as a student intern, and later District Archaeologist, on the Winema National Forest in Klamath Falls.  In 1992-93 I lived with a tribe of foragers as a research assistant on the Pume Ethnoarchaeology Project in Venezuela.  During graduate school I was park archaeologist at the Great Smoky Mountains NP in Tennessee (2000-2001), then became Power Office archaeologist at Grand Coulee and Hungry Horse Projects of the Bureau of Reclamation in WA and MT (2001-2007) .  After a stint in academia as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at California State University, I found the perfect blend of academic/research and management experience in my current position as the Cultural Specialist for the National Park Service's Rocky Mountain Cooperative Ecosystem Study Unit housed on the University of Montana Campus.  I am responsible for implementing cultural (e.g., archaeology, anthropology, history, social sciences, Native American studies) task agreements between federal agencies and universities.

International Experience

Central Venezuela (Estado Apure: conducted anthropological research among the Pume Tribe in 1992-93. Lived as a hunter gatherer and collected data concerning food, housing, mobility, health, and technology of a mobile community of about 63 persons.

East-Central China: Co-organized a symposium in 2010 with Chinese archaeologists for the evaluation and treatment of impacts due tot the Sichuan earthquake, other recent natural disasters, and effects of urbanization on cultural and archaeological places. Funded by the University of Shandong, Jinan, China. Have traveled in central and east central China as well as parts of Inner Mongolia during visits to family.


2012 Member, National Park Service I Intermountain Region Wilderness Executive Committee

2010-present   Vice Chair, NPS Intermountain Resources Stewardship Advisory Team

2007-present     Member, Society for American Archaeology Media Committee

2005-2009    Member, Society for American Archaeology Curriculum Committee

2006-2007    Member, Society for American Archaeology Program Planning Committee

1997-2007        Co-Director, Pumé Fund Project. Cultural Survival Inc., Harvard University.

1995-present     Member, Society for American Archaeology

Selected Publications


In Press

Ethnoarchaeology as a strategy for building frames of reference for research problems.  In Hunter Gatherer & Mid-Range Societies section of the Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, A. Prentiss, ed.  Springer Publishing, New York.

In Prep

A Testable Hypothesis for Foraging Intensification and Development of Agriculture in the Amazon Basin. Archaeology IS Anthropology: Research Honoring the Intellectual Reach of Lewis Binford.  Special Edition of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

Under Review

Forager intensification and development of agriculture in the Amazon Basin: an hypothesis from an ethnoarchaeological perspective.  In Examining Amazonia's past, present and future from a biocultural perspective: Engaging perspectives of health, environment and nutrition, L. Forline and C. Perez-Hilton, eds.  Springer Environmental Science, Dordrecht Netherlands.

2012 Heritage Values and Stewardship of Ancestral Remains (in Mandarin).  Journal of Oriental Archaeology 8:45-48. Shandong University, Jinan, China. et al 2012 Shandong symposium.pdf

2009 Heritage Values among the Pumé of Venezuela. In Heritage Values in Contemporary Society, G. S. Smith, P. Messenger, and H. Soderland, eds.  Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA.

2009 Ancient Pit Cooking in the American Southwest and Pacific Northwest: A Study in Foraging Intensification.  Verlag Dr Muller Publishing, Saarbruecken, Germany. dissertation final.pdf

2008 Whose family? Negotiating ownership of the ancestors. In Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One, H. Burke, C. Smith, D. Lippert, J. Watkins, and L. Zimmerman, eds.  Pp. 144-145.  Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA. 2008 Kennewick Man.pdf

2006 Implicating projectile technology in changing systems of hunter-gatherer mobility. In Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology of Mobility, F. Sellet, R. Greaves, and P. Yu, eds. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. 2006 atlatl bow and arrow.pdf

1997 Hungry Lightning: Field Notes of a Woman Anthropologist. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Search for Hungry Lightning under   

PUBLICATIONS, co-authored

In Prep

Scale and organization in traditional salmon fishing: insights from ancient technology of the Upper Columbia River.  In Rivers, Fish, and the People:  Past Native Relationships with River Fisheries in the American West.  P. Yu, ed.

In Prep

Yu, P. L., and J. M. Cook

Implications of Upper Columbia River Lithic Technology for Prehistoric Fishing in the Rockies. In Lithics in the West, W. Andrefsky, D. MacDonald, and P. Yu, eds. 

Yu, P. L., H. Fang, C. Shen, and G. Smith

2012 The International Conference “Cultural Heritage Values in China: Identifying, Evaluating, and Treating Impacts to Cultural Relics,” Shandong University, Jinan, and Qufu Town, Shandong Province, China, October 26-28, 2010.  Journal of Heritage and Society.  Heritage and Society 4 (2):261-164

MacDonald, D., E. S. Hale, P. L. Yu, M. Hektner, and D. S. Dick

2011     Prehistoric/historic ecology and land restoration within the Gardiner Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Montana.  Questioning Greater Yellowstone’s Future Climate, Land Use, and Invasive Species.  Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, October 11-13, 2010.  C. Andersen, ed. Pp. 137-145.  National Park Service, Mammoth Hot Springs MT. et al 2010 Yellowstone science Gardiner Basin.pdf

Meyer, L., P. L. Yu, R. Skeirik, and V. Salazar-Halfmoon

2010     Grappling with Climate Change: Impacts to Heritage Resources.  National Park Service, Vanishing Treasures Year-End Report: A Climate of Change, Climate Change Issue.  National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Vanishing Treasures Program, pp. 22-25.

Yu, P. L., B. Mills, and A. Neuzil

2006 What skills do I need to get and keep a job in archaeology? The SAA Archaeological Record 6(3):9-13 et al 2006 SAA Record.pdf

Yu, P. L., and R. Greaves

1999 Into the life of the nation: land use and self-determination among traditional Pumé hunter-gatherers in Venezuela. Cultural Survival Quarterly 23(4): 78-79. the Life of the Nation_ Use and Self-Determination among Traditional Pu.pdf

PUBLICATIONS, Editor and Co-editor

In Prep

With Douglas MacDonald and William Andrefsky

Lithics in the West

In Prep

With M. Schmader

Archaeology IS Anthropology: Research Honoring the Intellectual Reach of Lewis Binford.  Special Edition of the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology.

In Prep

Rivers, Fish, and the People:  Past Native Relationships with River Fisheries in the American West

With F. Sellet and R. D. Greaves

2006 Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology of Mobility. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.