Michael Wilken is an applied cultural anthropologist specializing in indigenous peoples of Baja California. He has documented traditional lifeways of the Kumiai and Paipai peoples, and has developed lifelong collaborative relationships with many indigenous artists and cultural authorities, helping to promote sustainable livelihoods and cultural revitalization. Wilken’s writings have been published in both academic journals and popular magazines such as News from Native California. His research interests include the ethnography of Baja California and linkages with Yuman peoples of California and Arizona, material culture and technology, cultural revitalization, ethnobotany, traditional indigenous environmental management, and sustainable community development. This research is disseminated through publications, collaborative indigenous community projects, museum exhibits, ethnobotanical gardens and the organization of binational activities that promote the unique anthropological heritage of Baja California.
Wilken received his MA in applied anthropology from San Diego State University in 2012 with a thesis on Kumeyaay Ethnobotany. The applied component of his thesis included an internship in which he collaborated with the non-profit organizations Corredor Histórico CAREM and Fundación La Puerta to create the Tecate Community Museum and Ethnobotanical Gardens.