Darren Ranco

Website: https://umaine.edu/anthropology/faculty-staff/dr-darren-j-ranco/

Media Expertise:

  • Tribal/Native American Issues
  • Environmental Justice
  • Research Collaboration

Research Interests

  • Native American/American Indian Cultural and Natural Resources
  • Tribal Sovereignty
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Risk
  • Research Ethics
  • Collaborative Research

Research Projects

News and Updates


  • Harvard University, Ph.D. (Social Anthropology)
  • Vermont Law School, MSEL (Studies in Environmental Law)
  • Dartmouth College, B.A. (Anthropology and Classical Studies)


  • Tribal Governance
  • Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights
  • Environmental Justice
  • Research Ethics


Darren Ranco is a faculty member with the University of Maine’s Department of Anthropology, as well as the Chair of Native American Programs and Coordinator of Native American Research. His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and knowledges to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk. Ranco is a member of the Penobscot Nation and is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities.

Ranco’s SSI project (Mobilizing to Fight an Invasive Insect) was the first such project in the nation to bring together diverse groups to try to prevent, curb, and respond to a potential emerald ash borer (EAB) invasion. Other related projects have followed, and collaborators include members of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, tribes, university researchers, state and federal foresters, and others. Ranco’s team seeks to develop a proactive, coordinated response on a statewide level in order to save culturally and artistically essential brown ash tree resources from the invasive EAB. Part of this response involves mapping Maine’s ash tree populations, learning how to identify a borer attack, educating the public, and establishing a seed bank should the beetle strike. The team’s findings are leading to new strategies for protecting Maine’s three species of ash trees, informing public policy, and establishing effective methods to bring together diverse groups to address threats from invasive species.

As part of his research, Ranco is also involved in developing mentoring programs for Native American students at the University of Maine and developing a statewide STEM education program for Native American students, the Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) Program.

Selected Publications

Leonard, K., Aldern, J. D., Christianson, A., Ranco, D., Thornbrugh, C., Loring, P. A., Coughlan, M. R., Jones, P., Mancini, J., May, D., Moola, F., Willilamson, G., & Stoof, C. R. (2020). Indigenous Conservation Practices Are Not a Monolith: Western cultural biases and a lack of engagement with Indigenous experts undermine studies of land stewardship.

Daigle, J. J., Michelle, N., Ranco, D. J., & Emery, M. R. (2019). Traditional Lifeways and Storytelling: Tools for Adaptation and Resilience to Ecosystem Change. Human Ecology47(5), 777-784.

Daigle, J. J., Straub, C. L., Leahy, J. E., De Urioste-Stone, S. M., Ranco, D. J., & Siegert, N. W. (2019). How Campers’ beliefs about forest pests affect firewood transport behavior: an application of involvement theory. Forest Science65(3), 363-372.

Costanza, K. K., Livingston, W. H., Kashian, D. M., Slesak, R. A., Tardif, J. C., Dech, J. P., Diamond, A. K., Daigle, J. J., Ranco, D. J., Neptune, J. S., Benedict, L., Fraver, S. R., Reinkainen, M., & Siegert, N. W. (2017). The precarious state of a cultural keystone species: tribal and biological assessments of the role and future of black ash. Journal of Forestry115(5), 435-446.

Carr, T., Kenefic, L. S., & Ranco, D. J. (2017). Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS): A tribal mentoring and educational program integrating traditional ecological knowledge and western science. Journal of Forestry115(5), 480-483.

Reo, N. J., Whyte, K., Ranco, D., Brandt, J., Blackmer, E., & Elliott, B. (2017). Invasive Species, Indigenous Stewards, and Vulnerability Discourse. American Indian Quarterly41(3), 201-223.

Ranco, D. (2017). Citizen Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge—Values of Inclusion in the Wabanaki Youth Science Program. Maine Policy Review26(2), 86-88.

Loperena, C. A., Moodie, E., Morris, C. D., Ranco, D., Silber, I. C., & Loperena, C. A. (2016). Ethical Entanglements: A Response: The Ethics and Politics of Activist Research. Current Anthropology57(3), 000-000.

Hart, D. D., Bell, K. P., Lindenfeld, L. A., Jain, S., Johnson, T. R., Ranco, D., & McGill, B. (2015). Strengthening the role of universities in addressing sustainability challenges: the Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions as an institutional experiment. Ecology and Society20(2). 4.

Ranco, D. and J. Clark. (2014). The Abbe Museum: Seeking a Collaborative Future through Decolonization. in Interpreting Native American History and Culture, ed. R. Bench (New York: Roman and Littlefield). 57-67.

Senier, S., Lioi, A., Ryan, M. K., Vasudevan, P., Nieves, A., Ranco, D., & Marshall, C. (2014). The resilience of race: A cultural sustainability manifesto. Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities1(2). 1-6.

Voggesser, G., Lynn, K., Daigle, J., Lake, F. K., & Ranco, D. (2013). Cultural impacts to tribes from climate change influences on forests. In Climate change and indigenous peoples in the United States (pp. 107-118). Springer, Cham.

Lynn, K., Daigle, J., Hoffman, J., Lake, F., Michelle, N., Ranco, D. Viles, C., Voggesser, G., & Williams, P. (2013). The impacts of climate change on tribal traditional foods. In Climate change and indigenous peoples in the United States (pp. 37-48). Springer, Cham.

Ranco, D., Arnett, A., Latty, E., Remsburg, A., Dunckel, K., Quigley, E., Lilieholm, R., Daigle, J., Livingston, B., Neptune, J., & Secord, T. (2012). Two Maine forest pests: a comparison of approaches to understanding threats to hemlock and ash trees in Maine. Maine Policy Review21(1), 76-89.

Ranco, D. J., O’Neill, C. A., Donatuto, J., & Harper, B. L. (2011). Environmental justice, American Indians and the cultural dilemma: developing environmental management for tribal health and well-being. Environmental Justice4(4), 221-230.

Johnson, J. R., & Ranco, D. J. (2011). Risk Assessment and Native Americans at the Cultural Crossroads: Making Better Science or Redefining Health?, in Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Transforming Expert Cultures through Grassroots Engagement, eds. Gwen Ottinger and Benjamin R. Cohen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 179–-199.

Darren J. Ranco. (2011). Power and Knowledge in Regulating American Indian Environments: The Trust Responsibility, Limited Sovereignty, and the Problem of Difference,” in Environmental Crisis or Crisis of Epistemology? Working for Sustainable Knowledge and Environmental Justice, ed. Bunyan Bryant (Garden City, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2011), 107–131.