Voices in American Archaeology

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Archaeological sites and objects may serve the philosophy and process of decolonization; for instance, being used to negotiate land claims or to promote cultural cohesion. Indigenous groups have begun to insist on control of such resources in their transition toward self-determination Walker and Ostrove A relationship is seen between archaeology and nationalism. According to Kohl and Fawcett, as well as Trigger, such a relationship is "not necessarily corrupt or intrinsically suspect", any more than it was when European-Americans were making all the decisions about archeological sites and materials.

Kohl and Fawcett 3; also Trigger Scholars generally support the rights of Indigenous peoples to the sites and materials created and used by their ancestors. Canadian First Nations, and others in like circumstances, "hold better jurisdictional title", thus legislative authority, to heritage resources than either Canada or the provinces Asch So while the care and management of heritage materials and sites is often among those areas first offered up by colonial governments at modern negotiating tables, few accommodations are made for the attendant financial demands and regulative license required for these transfers of responsibility Mohs In once-colonial nations, the efforts of current governments to reconcile with First Nations people is having direct effects on the practical and legal aspects of stewardship of archaeological resources.

Waves of globally and federally endorsed recognition of Aboriginal rights in general, and of heritage stewardship in particular, are pounding the shores of nominally post-colonial governments see, for example, Ritchie [] on Australia, Watkins [] and Wylie [] on Canada and the United States, and Whitelaw [] on South Africa.

Domestic commitments to honourable negotiation e.

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The contributions of the indigenous viewpoint to archaeology also aid in addressing the problems of race that are integrated into the practice. The archaeological discourse can take a patronizing and judgmental interpretation of indigenous practices and artifacts without proper context, often portraying indigenous culture as comparatively flawed or inferior in technique and technology. These construe the notion of indigenous culture as particularly alien and foreign, building a racist image to the non-indigenous viewpoint. The incorporation of the indigenous viewpoint in the academics can normalize their culture in the overall historical narrative, and shift away from portraying indigenous peoples as "savage", and instead evaluate them equally with other world cultures Echo-Hawk The indigenous narrative is significantly influenced by the colonialist tendency to homogenize indigenous culture into one single entity.

The contemporary historical sequence focuses on the fall of indigenous cultures as a result of the advent of empires, and portrays the end segment of their history as the only significant contribution.

Voices in American Archaeology

For example, the colonization of the Americas in Central and South America neglect the long history of the Aztec and Incan empires, and only associates those cultures with defeat in the context of colonization. The complex political and economic infrastructure and achievements of those indigenous societies, and their legacy leading up to that point, is discarded in the narrow scope of the colonial achievement.

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Additionally, characterizing the indigenous history as an era of collective defeat fails to distinguish between individual indigenous cultures, cutting off their own histories and obscuring the features unique to each society Oland As Indigenous archaeology unfolds, two things are becoming clear that serve to highlight some of the principle similarities and differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. First, most Indigenous archaeologies hold the view that archaeology makes up only one part of the cultural resources spectrum Anyon The inclusion of spiritual, traditional use, linguistic and historical studies are influencing the direction of heritage research and management, just as anthropology's standard four-field approach has done for archaeology.

In both traditions, "intellectual and material aspects of these cultural practices are nearly impossible to separate and an attempt to do so threatens or undermines the practices themselves" Smith and Jackson Second, where archaeology and Indigenous archaeology diverge, is on the issue of human remains.

These, according to most Indigenous practitioners and publics, are not the same as other kinds of cultural resources, their use and disposition should not be subject to the regulations or negotiations. However, archaeologists need them for their research and to advance society's knowledge. This divide stems from how many people in both groups see the world. Scientists are trained in western schools of thought, which portrays time as linear.

People beyond a couple generations into the past are seen as long gone, and it is less taboo to study their remains. In contrast, many indigenous cultures see time as circular and deceased ancestors as a current members of their society. Many major European and American universities and museums have returned stored remains to indigenous communities around the world. Despite, or perhaps because of, these differences, Indigenous archaeology should not be seen as exclusive to Indigenous peoples.

It has wide relevance outside Indigenous communities Atalay , where post-colonial methodology is wanting in quantity and quality.

tomergreenfeld.com/5104.php The practice of Indigenous archaeology provides non-Native people with a tool by which they may aid in the larger project of decolonization and reclamation of minority rights and identities. It actively recognizes the special rights, interests and responsibilities that Native people have in the realm of cultural heritage e.

Smith , Wilson ; Yellowhorn Indigenous archaeology has become part of the greater transformative project of Indigenous research "that is active in pursuit of social and institutional change, that makes space for Indigenous knowledge, and that has a critical view of power relations and inequality" L. Smith Negotiating the difference in Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspective, of course, entails an "increasingly holistic engagement…with modern native peoples who are direct heirs to the traditions they are studying" Trigger , which is changing the whole thrust of archaeological practice and stewardship.

Conservative factions in archaeology e. McGhee are finding the risk of infidelity to the archaeological record too great to sanction an Indigenous archaeology, believing the endeavour to be too subjective to be considered archaeology. Abdicating the use of archaeology's unique set of methods for interpreting the past in favour of alternative lines of evidence e.

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The disparity between the indigenous and non-indigenous interpretations of archaeological conduct may be addressed by the integration of indigenous perspective in explaining artifacts and observations initially made by non-indigenous archaeologists. The intent and historical background of particular historical remnants offered by the indigenous perspective can assist in the contemporary archaeological approach.

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For example, the rationale behind choice of material and method used in constructing historical artifacts would allow a fairer evaluation of indigenous technology to be seen in the historical narrative. In the same way, an archaeological approach headed by indigenous researchers could benefit from the input of non-indigenous research. A responsible and equitable account of indigenous history requires that the narratives of different cultures is taken into consideration by the parties involved Croes The late, eminent Canadian theoretician Bruce Trigger suggested archaeologists continue to rigorously evaluate each history based on "evidence of greater or lesser completeness and accuracy and on more or less sound reasoning" ix.

Advocating a continued use of careful, objective assessment of such qualities can help integrate different aspects of the past into a more complete, holistic picture of history ibid. The anthropological-Indigenous collaborative model inevitably raises hackles because at some point, somebody's truth is going to have to be truer than someone else's to move forward or it will be presented as such; Cooper Where archaeologists' version of events contradicts First Nations' beliefs about their history, is each obliged to challenge others' myth-building?

While he asserts that "the only morally defensible option" x in such cases is to report the truth as far as it can be known , the real, social implications this could have on relationships predicated on goodwill and respect may be severe. Trigger acknowledges the influence that both cultural relativism and the great white guilt have on archaeologists looking to do the right thing, but maintains that above all, archaeology must retain the scientific method if it can hope to "refute claims being made by fascists, sexists, racists, and Indian-haters" x.

He insists that archaeologists have a responsibility not only to educate people, but to do so "honestly and frankly" x and to credit individuals with the ability to form their own opinions. As the values and goals of descendent communities are incorporated into the structure of heritage management, a different picture of heritage stewardship should emerge.

Where the Western mode is predicated on ideas of the public trust, the Indigenous stewardship paradigm is more often concerned with the care of living history Smith and Burke ; also Lawson , Watkins Assigning custody of heritage on the basis of cultural patrimony respects the "traditionally, or historically, legitimate cultural or spiritual responsibility for the cultural property at hand" Meskell , and infuses stewardship with a duty of familial care.

The differences between the "public trust" school of archaeological thought, and the "cultural legacy" perspective of Indigenous thought have cognitive implications: the former isolates history, failing to link it with other people, places or times, while the latter binds the studied past with the present and future. The distinction can be as simple a matter as considering an archaeological skeletal specimen as object or ancestor Smith and Burke Or, it can be as complex as demonstrating continuity by drawing one's past on the landscape for a world that relies on discontinuities to order time and space.

Controlling and preserving culturally significant archaeological materials and shaping the discourse around their history are the other primary issues of indigenous archaeology.

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The fact based nature of archaeology as a science leads it to value sources that do not have hard evidence, like material information or data, less than those that do. It advocates for methods similar to the Four field approach in anthropology to negate this perceived bias. Legislation around the stewardship and preservation of archaeological and cultural sites is perceived to be similarly biased as well. This excludes many sites of cultural or religious value to many indigenous communities.

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Many of these communities are either unwilling or unable to pay for the upkeep of sites that legislation does protect, so archaeologists are brought in to do so. In response to this, programs for the training of indigenous people in archaeological practices in order to allow them to consult on ongoing dig sites and the consultation of local communities before archaeological experiments begin have become more widespread. Watkins presents an overview of the gradual progress of the Indigenizing of archaeology worldwide, lauding the few accomplishments and trying to "interpret the relative quiet of the Indigenous voice" In Australia and New Zealand, Aboriginal peoples are using archeology as part of their reclamation of heritage and assertion of indigenous rights, where it is increasingly used in support of land claims and repatriation issues The Canadian experience follows a similar trajectory, albeit at a slower pace.

There was also cooperation on his reburial. The value of indigenous communities is taking becoming greater in archaeological projects that work with sensitive artifacts and cultural remnants, though conflict between contemporary and indigenous approaches still exist.

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For example, the integration of indigenous permissions in studying sites, such as Massachusetts's Unmarked Burial Law, assists in providing indigenous communities a measure of control over archaeological studies. However, indigenous communities dispute on whether or not their cultural practices should be subject to academic and legalistic judgement by external scholars. The demands on indigenous peoples concerning archaeological collaboration involve more burdens on the indigenous community to answer to archaeological probing, while traditional archaeological approaches do not change and fail to accommodate to indigenous needs Matthews The regions of Mesoamerica and South America are beginning the dialogue of indigenous interests in archaeology, which there as elsewhere takes a backseat to more pressing efforts to secure basic rights for First Peoples.

The nations of Scandinavia have made minimal progress in considering the archaeology of the Sami people as a field of study, let alone involving the descendent populations in projects Watkins In Africa, attention is focused on fundamental economic and human rights issues, which has forced the issue of indigenous participation in archaeology to the back compared to the status in developed nations Watkins North America.

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Encyclopedia of Archaeology 1 ed. Elsevier Inc. Annual Review of Anthropology. April 1, Current Anthropology. Bridging the gap: A critical analysis of implementing an indigenous archaeology approach in the management of cultural resources. Oland, Maxine; Siobhan, M. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

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Smith, Claire; Heather Burke New York: Springer. Windschuttle, Keith New York: The Free Press. Wylie, Alison Los Angeles: University of California Press. Anyon, Roger Protecting the Past Eds: G. Smith and J.

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Asch, Michael Boyd, W. Cotter, Jane Gardiner, and Gail Taylor Gainsesville: University Press of Florida. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list link Cooper, David E. Chris Scarre; Geoffrey Scarre eds. The Ethics of Archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press. Forsman, Leonard A.