Cindy Ott is an associate professor of history and material culture. Her fields of expertise include American food and culture, environmental history, history and memory, material and visual culture and race and ethnicity studies. Her first book, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, published with William Cronon’s Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books at the University of Washington Press in 2012, uses this beloved vegetable in all its various guises, from the pie and the jack-o’-lantern to the affectionate term of endearment and the 1000-pound giants, to analyze Americans’ long-held and deeply felt veneration of nature and the small family farm and the impacts of those beliefs and traditions on rural communities.
Her current book project, “Biscuits and Buffaloes: Squashing Myths about Food in Indian Country” looks at the ways northern Plains Indians have created food traditions all the way to the present that support a strong sense of American Indian heritage and tradition. She is also working on an article on the Miss Indian American pageant, which is about collaborations among American Indians and the residents of a small reservation border town in northern Wyoming. Through her five-year service as the graphics and Gallery co-editor of the journal Environmental History, she is co-writing a guidebook for interpreting images of people and the environment for the University of Washington Press.
Her research and teaching have always been strongly influenced by her work as a public historian and museum curator. She has developed cultural history projects and art exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum of the Rockies, community development projects at the University of Pennsylvania and Saint Louis University, and historic preservation projects at the National Park Service.
She is currently the President of the Society of Fellows at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society based in Munich, Germany and a member of the executive board of the American Society for Environmental History.
“Gardeners on the Crow Reservation in the 1930s,” Crow Reservation Community Centers in Crow Agency, Lodge Grass, and Pryor, Montana, 2015.
“They Said It Couldn’t Happen Here: Racial (In) Justice at SLU,” Student exhibition at Saint Louis University, 2015.
“Crossing Cultural Fences: The Intersecting Material World of American Indians and Euro-Americans,” Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT, 2006.