78th Annual Plains Conference


June 18, 2020


Dear Valued PAS Member,

We hope that you, your family, and colleagues are healthy, safe, and adjusting to the new conditions the COVID-19 pandemic has required of everyone.  Like all of you, the PAS Board has been monitoring the spread of the pandemic and the impacts of this virus on the health and safety of people worldwide.  We have also watched as many professional societies decided to cancel conferences.  Because the Plains Conference was scheduled for November, we withheld any earlier decision, hoping that conditions would improve and allow us to move forward with our regular annual conference. 

Unfortunately, we have decided that conditions are just too uncertain to risk the safety of all attendees, and we have cancelled the 2020 Plains Conference in Boulder, Colorado.  The Board considered delaying the decision longer, but the financial risk was just not feasible, as planning for this conference requires timely monetary agreements to various vendors.  We are deeply saddened that we have come to this decision, knowing that we all look forward to attending the Plains Conference, sharing our research, and renewing friendships. 

We are fortunate that the Embassy Suites in Boulder has generously agreed to cancel our 2020 contract and reschedule for 2021, without penalty.  The exact dates for the 2021 Plains Conference are pending (we need to get the football schedule first!), but Doug Bamforth has agreed to continue as the host.  Rescheduling caused some changes in future conferences:

  • the 2022 meeting will stay in Oklahoma City with Brandi Bethke (Oklahoma Archaeological Survey) and Sarah Trabert (University of Oklahoma) as hosts;

  • the 2023 meeting will be hosted by David Williams of the South Dakota State Historical Society in Rapid City;

  • the 2024 meeting is proposed for Topeka, Kansas with hosts Tricia Waggoner and Eric Skov of the Kansas State Historical Society.

My sincere thanks to all of the hosts and venues for their support and willingness to alter plans.

There are a lot of moving parts to the decision to cancel this year’s meeting and postpone the 78th Annual Plains Conference until 2021.   Below are a few that the Board has discussed. Other announcements will follow in the coming weeks or months and will be posted to the PAS website (https://plainsanthropologicalsociety.org).

  • The PAS Board wants to make all of the annual awards that we can this year.  This includes the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) and the Native American Student Award. The DSA committee is chaired by Bob Hoard (editor@plainsanthropologicalsociety.org).  Nominations for the Native American Student Award can be sent to Richie Meyers (rmeyers@olc.edu) or Cherie Haury-Artz (cherie-hauryartz@uiowa.edu). 

  • The Student Poster competition will be held.  It is organized by Brendon Asher (Brendon.Asher@enmu.edu), Michael Fosha, and Kathe Holen.  Details on poster submission, judging, and feedback will be forthcoming on the PAS website.

  • Unfortunately, the Student Paper competition will not be held.  However, anyone who was a student at the time of the planned 2020 conference will be eligible to submit a paper for the Student Paper competition in 2021, even if they graduated prior to the 2021 meeting. I also encourage any student who planned to present at the 2020 conference to convert their paper into a poster for this year's competition.

  • PAS will hold elections for new board members, with voting done as usual by digital ballot.  Please send nominations to Wendi Field-Murray (membership@plainsanthropologicalsociety.org).  

  • Please send names of our deceased colleagues to Brandi Bethke (bbethke@ou.edu

  • We are looking at ways to hold an annual business meeting.  However, the meeting will be restricted to basic reports and announcements, with discussion on suggested changes to the by-laws tabled until the 2021 meeting. The logistics required to have an open discussion on these important matters would be difficult for both the Board and the membership.

  • We hope to create a virtual ceremony or something similar to recognize the achievements of our members, welcome new board members, and pay tribute to our departed colleagues.  At the least, this information will be added to the PAS website. All awards and tributes will be repeated in person at the 2021 conference.

  • Since you won’t be spending time on conference travel and attendance, please consider using that time to submit your research to the Plains Anthropologist. Your research is important and it needs to be shared. 

  • Right now, the most important thing you can do for the society is to continue to support it by renewing your membership for 2020 if you have not done so already. With so many members usually renewing their membership at the conference, we will be making an extra effort to remind you when the 2021 dues can be made online via PayPal or where you can mail in your check.

Best to all of you,


Mary Adair