Ben Benson (Member)

Ben Benson
Associate Anthropology Professor

My tribal affiliation is with the Lenni-Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania. The Lenape people are the original inhabitants of Delaware, New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Southern New York.

Teaching has always been the central focus of my professional life and I take great pride in my classes. My academic emphasis has been in three areas: traditional Native art, Native American environmental management, and human evolution and the fossil record. In addition to my instructional responsibilities, I am the Museum Director of the Jesse Peter Museum where I have built a collection of 3,000 examples of traditional art by American Indian artists as well as Latino, Asian, and African artists. I am a published author in my field with several monographs and articles in the fields of Native arts and environmental science. I am also the Coordinator of the Native American Studies Program for the Behavioral Sciences Department. I also serve as a museum consultant, and I am one of ten appraisers in the United States who are certified by the American Society of Appraisers in the field of Native American Art.

Professional Areas of Interest

These are but a few: Native American systems of environmental management, the lifeways of western North American tribal people, Native American material culture, museum science, pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico and South America, cultures of the Amazon rain forest, history of the Sephardic Jewish immigrants in the American Southwest, the Spanish Inquisition, human cultural ecology, primatology, human evolution and the fossil record, the history of rock and roll, sea kayaking, nature photography.

Professional Involvement and Community Service

I am a frequent speaker for both public and private institutions on a variety of topics. I also serve as Cultural Resources Coordinator at Pepperwood Preserve in Santa Rosa and help to incorporate the Native environmental perspectives of the Pomo, Miwok, and Wappo into Pepperwood’s long-term planning. My field research illuminates the preserve’s “prehistory” with a focus on the ancient obsidian tools found at Pepperwood’s cultural sites.


M.A. Washington State University B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara Certified Appraiser, American Society of Appraisers

Academic Experience

Santa Rosa Junior College Faculty, 1979 to present Adjunct Professor, Washington State University 1976-1977 Adjunct Instructor, Santa Barbara City College 1974-1975