Welcome to the website of Sandra Mathews, prize-winning author and professional historian; owner and operator of Dancing Loon Historical Consulting, LLC.
After receiving my M.A. (Latin American Studies) and Ph.D. (History: U.S. West and Latin America) at the University of New Mexico, I came to Nebraska Wesleyan University for a one-year position as a visiting assistant professor. That was 1996 and I am celebrating the end of my 21st year. Since my arrival, I have published five books, numerous chapters and articles, and too many book reviews to mention. Two of my books have received awards. I have presented numerous papers at conferences, chaired sessions, and been the featured or invited speaker at numerous special conferences as well as formal and informal gatherings.
Since the 1990s, I have provided Historical Consulting services related to American Indian tribal boundary disputes, sovereignty, and water rights (and Hispano water rights claims) for a private individuals, the state of New Mexico, and tribes. I provide valuable, thorough, and well-documented communication and reports to my clients in a timely fashion.
Beyond being an active scholar, I love to teach and I have ever since the first day I stepped foot in a classroom back in graduate school. I enjoy engaging them with non-traditional methods and tools. Beyond the typical political perspective of U.S. History marching westward across the continent, I instead focus on the cultures that lived here well before the arrival of Europeans. We begin with the oral history, explaining the native perspective of their origins in the Americas, and then explore as the hundreds of native cultures expand and grow into the many amazing societies (like Cahokia, Chaco, and the Iroquois). We discuss their art, philosophy, spiritualism, and begin every class listening to music connected to the topic for the day. We then explore the Spanish, French, Dutch, English, and even the Russians as they encounter these long-established cultures. Comparative transnational borderlands, gender, environmental, and American Indian history truly intrigues me–but not just the political!
I particularly enjoy taking students out into the “field” to get first-hand experience with history and place. I believe it’s important to make history relevant, connected, and “felt”. So I have taken my US West class to Fort Atkinson, Homestead National Monument, Nebraska State Historical Society Museum and Archives, the Durham Museum, and a three-day weekend living in the Officer’s Quarters at Fort Larned National Historic Site in Kansas. I’ve taken my Environmental students on 9-day trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, long weekends to the Niobrara, a short camping trip to Indian Cave State Park, Northwest Fur Post Museum (Minnesota), as well as Spring Creek Prairie and several other locations. It’s imperative to understand History as part of a larger collection of disciplines, including literature, language study, philosophy, art, spiritualism/religion, politics, environmental studies, and yes, even music (I play indigenous music every day in my Indian history course, for example). All of them help inform our understanding of the past.
I have given presentations as a public service around Nebraska and New Mexico, and love to practice the craft of photography and creative writing. In fact, by the end of 2017, I will have completed a memoir about my experiences with my father as he sunk into Alzheimer’s (we lost him May 2011).
If you have questions about my work, or would like me to come speak to your group, please contact me at mathewsbenham at yahoo dot com. Feel free to use my CONTACT ME page as well!
Sandra K. Mathews © 2011/12/13/14/15/16/17 | All rights reserved. Subject to the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this online website may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printed, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.