By Jason Baird Jackson —
I am saddened to share the news that Raymond J. DeMallie, Class of 1967 Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology emeritus and a long-serving affiliate faculty member in the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, passed away on the evening of April 26, 2021 at Bloomington Hospital. In addition to his work in anthropology and as the founding director of the American Indian Studies Research Institute, Ray advised numerous folklore students-turned-colleagues across multiple generations, from students from his earlier days at IU such as Elaine Jahner to cohort-mates of my own such as Laura Marcus Green and Karen Duffy to more recent graduates such as Melissa Strickland. Beyond such work with students, he was involved in varied initiatives and projects of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and the Folklore Institute and he maintained strong research interests in the history of Americanist folklore studies, in ritual and ceremony, in the study of sacred and historical narrative, and in museums and material culture. Building upon the foundational work Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin (1903–1988), he solidified and extended Indiana University’s central place in the field of ethnohistory, seeing—as she did—the key place of folklore studies in that endeavor alongside the field’s other founding disciplines. While he received many awards, published many books and articles, and accomplished much that can be commented upon carefully in the days ahead, I would stress now his less-well-understood work in applied legal history, particularly his work around treaties pursued with his long-term collaborator Vine Deloria, Jr. (1933–2005). As intended, those efforts have helped federally-recognized Native American nations directly in their ongoing work of reestablishing and exercising national sovereignty.
While Ray’s health challenges in recent years were trying, his departure was peaceful and his days among us were concluded with meaningful calls and visits from friends. While just a small sample of those in his large circle who would have liked the chance to say goodbye, those calls were a pleasure and a comfort to him.
Jason Baird Jackson
Ruth N. Halls Professor of Folklore and Anthropology
We sometimes make mistakes, and we are happy to correct any errors that you may come across on our site. If you find an error, please let us know using the “submit a correction” link.