"Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it,

and the imagination to improvise."   

Sylvia Plath

b.1932 - d. 1963

"So, I like to write."

Melissa enjoys writing and has published her work in several newspapers, journals, and magazine articles. She's also done her fair share of book chapters, encyclopedia entries, book reviews, manuscript reviews, and blogging entries. She even wrote a book. Channeling Melissa's academically driven writing style to a public audience has stretched her ability to write significantly. "There is no denying a social science background in my writing today as evidenced by my style right down to word choice - I make no apologies for that."

It's a rare occasion when a social issue can be described in 'black and white' terms. Social scientists examine it all - the black, the white and especially the grey in between. "It's the beauty and sometimes curse of my professional training and accompanying life experiences."

Poverty is at the forefront of Melissa's mind as she works 

in this space daily. And, combatting poverty is complex

as there isn't a singular cause of poverty. "I think

of poverty as the epicenter of an unsteady wheel wherein

the spokes on the wheel - such as access to good healthcare, 

transportation, groceries, affordable housing, childcare,

living wage jobs, etc., are absent, weak, and/or unstable.

The wheel will not move forward easily and in fact may feel

like it is not moving at all. Just when someone feels like

they are getting ahead, an unexpected life circumstance 

(one of the spokes) interrupts the wheel's pace, perhaps

even puncturing it. This can easily lead someone to an 

economic standstill or downward spiral."


Those living in poverty as well as those living in the economic margins do so with wobbly wheels. There isn't a quick fix to poverty and if there were, it would've been resolved a long time ago. "I believe if we all invest in our community just a bit more, we can balance the wheels for others and live more purposive lives."


Some of Melissa's work...

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Living with the Invisible Monster

Journal Gazette, Nov. 1 2020

The love and support I've experienced from so many of you is the sort of compassion I want to remember most about this experience, not the invisible monster that will persist if people continue to choose ego over the well-being of humanity. For more click here

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Changing Direction

Fort Wayne Magazine, Nov. 2020

"Everyone deserves a life where their basic needs are met, and the onus is on us to make it so. I do not think it is about paying it forward, as much as it is about being a good human." For more click here

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Welcoming Community to Open Arms All Week Long

Journal Gazette, Sept. 2020

I'm encouraged that one day there will be a unified civic commitment to immigrant/refugee integration in Fort Wayne...successful immigrant integration is more of a reflection of one's community than of national policies. For more click here

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A Gnawing Concern

Journal Gazette, May 2020

Understanding what food insecurity is theoretically versus the reality of your neighbor not knowing where their next meal is coming from are two very different things. For more click here


A City of Faith

Fort Wayne Magazine, April 2019

Faith is a verb and building intentional relationships across different sectors is critical for the vitality of the community.  For more click here

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Communities Coming Together

Journal Gazette, Nov. 2018

What better way to show how welcoming our community is than by recognizing the accomplishments of immigrants, refugees and providers in the Fort Wayne area?  For more click here.

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Relationships Beyond the Digits

News Sentinel, April 2018

Regardless of one’s professional calling, I believe we need more old school relationship-building. The ongoing education I’ve received over the years has lent to a deeper understanding of our shared humanity. For more click here.

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Other Selected Works...

Journal Articles

'To Hell with the Wigs!' Native American Representation and Resistance at the World's Columbian Exposition, American Indian Quarterly, Fall, 2012

A Legacy of Forced Removal: the Removal of the Miami Tribe, International Journal of Population Geography, March 2003

Books Chapters

Psychological & Emotional Problems, In Encyclopedia of American Indian Issues Today, Russell Lawson, ed. 2013

Miami Indian Removal, In Encyclopedia of American Indian Removal, Daniel Littlefield, Jr, & James Parins, eds. 2011. 

The Agency of Language Ideologies in Miami Indian Recovery, In Ethnographic Contributions to the Study of Endangered Languages, Tania Granadillo & Heidi Orcutt-Gachiri, eds. 2011.


Contested Territories: Native Americans and Non-Natives in the Lower Great Lakes, 1700-1850, Charles Beatty Medina & Melissa Rinehart, eds. 2012

Why the Cultural Conversation Should Never Stop

Huffington Post, May 26, 2012


Choice Champions Change

Northwest News, Oct. 2017

I'm a firm believer of having options during election season. Indiana statistics for unchallenged races don't bode well for us as a democratic society. For more click here

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Welcoming Fort Wayne Working to Build Stronger Community

News Sentinel, Oct. 2017

The ministry educates the non-immigrant community about the importance of immigrant newcomers.  For more click here.

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Allen County Needs to Get Healthier

Northwest News, Sept. 2017

We all pay the price, financial and otherwise, with an infrastructure inadvertently maintaining social inequities.  For more click here

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The Tapestry that Ties Us Together

Journal Gazette, July 2017

If someone were to ask me who my personal heroes are, I'd tell them in a heartbeat any immigrant or refugee who's carved a new path for themselves in the United States. For more click here.

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Tribal Counsel

Journal Gazette, May 2017

It feels as if the bar continues to creep lower for thoughtful engagement, decorum and a demonstrable appreciation for our collective identity as Americans. For more click here


From 'Bagay La' to 'My Thing'

Practicing Anthropology, Summer 2014

All anthropological work is morally grounded...My practice, now more than ever before, is profoundly rooted in moral obligation and how it serves others. For more click here