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May 9, 2003

Photo of Mellon Fellowship winner Brian DanielsBrian Daniels, a graduate student in cultural anthropology, has won a prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies for his pioneering research on the Shasta Indians of Northern California.

His research looks at how a group of people adjusts to sudden, drastic cultural change. Daniels has focused on how the culture and religion of the Shasta Indians still thrived following the onslaught of the California Gold Rush.

Daniels spent numerous hours near the Oregon border compiling oral histories from the elders of the Shasta tribe. "During that time of the Gold Rush, the Shasta Indians faced a sort of collision of cultures with the gold miners. I am trying to find out how they formed a stable community after facing violence that included genocide," he said. "I am finding out that religion and a close family and social structure helped them survive extremely difficult times."

He joins the national ranks of only 100 outstanding college students from universities such as Harvard, Yale and Berkeley who were selected for the award after a rigorous application process through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The fellowship covers tuition and fees, and includes a stipend of $17,500. Hundreds of talented college students from across the country compete for the fellowships each year.

"San Francisco State University is extremely proud to have Brian Daniels chosen as one of the country's top young scholars," said SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan. "This award is a testament to Brian's remarkable talent, intellectual curiosity and exceptional promise. Brian is an outstanding example of the many success stories here at San Francisco State."

Daniels has the drive and commitment to become an expert anthropologist, predicted Lee Davis, director of SFSU's California Studies Program and a faculty advisor to Daniels. "Brian began to assist me in my work with Native California tribes and proved so capable and trustworthy that he took over a major research project himself and he continues this important historic work with the Shasta people," Davis said.

Daniels, who graduates in May with a master's degree in cultural anthropology, has narrowed his choices for doctoral work to either the University of Pennsylvania or UCLA to continue his research.

Daniels, who was awarded the Kiana Dressendorfer Fellowship in archaeology at SFSU, said he hopes his work will contribute to knowledge about how cultural groups survive after experiencing the severe consequences of change.

"This is an honor made possible by all the supportive and engaged faculty I have had here at San Francisco State," said Daniels, a San Bruno resident. "They worked with me and gave me valuable opportunities to do research that I doubt I could have received elsewhere."

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Last modified May 9, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs