Welcome to the website of Sandra Mathews, prize-winning author and professional historian; owner and operator of Dancing Loon Historical Consulting, LLC.

Sandra_small-2After 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.

11 thoughts on “About

  1. We kinda switched locations. I grew up in Nebraska, where you are now, and frequently go to New Mexico, from whence you came. I too am interested in your areas of scholarship. However, I am not a scholar, just a cowboy lawyer.

    • How absolutely wonderful! Where in Nebraska did you live? I still go to New Mexico as often as I can. In fact, I’m currently teaching an online class on the History of New Mexico for Western NMU at Silver City! Glad you landed on my site! It’s a pleasure to meet you.

    • I have lived at both ends of Nebraska — Omaha and Scottsbluff.
      Regarding New Mexico connections, Sugar and I are going to Santa Fe in August. She makes and sells SouthWest jewelry and gets some materials at the Flea Market on the reservation outside Santa Fe. We have stayed at Ojo Caliente a few times, like to hang out in Taos, and also like the Abiquiu (sp?) Inn and Ghost Ranch.
      When I was in college, I took a course called Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication (very seventies). I spent three weeks in Northern New Mexico, based at Ghost Ranch, but involving the Seven Northern Pueblos. Loved it.

    • Wonderful! Sounds like you’ve really enjoyed much of what New Mexico has to offer. I would personally love to stay at Ojo Caliente, but I just cannot afford it yet 🙂 Stopped by Ghost Ranch last time through–what a delightful place 🙂

  2. You sure accomplished a lot! If I took all mine and dropped ’em into a cup, they’d roll around like a herd of roller derby women on the bottom. But that’s OK, I’m one who likes to hear other peoples stories, tales and historical revelations before my own. I kind of feel out of place making a comment on the same page as you and my friend ‘The cowboy lawyer’. Best to both of you, I just dropped by to tip my hat at your site. Oh yeah, thanks for liking my latest tale, the Bar 44 Ranch. JW

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