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Preserving the Past for the Future

A presentation of how preservation is tied to issues of social justice.

Sarah Surface-Evans

on 25 April 2016

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Transcript of Preserving the Past for the Future

Why is the Past Important?
International Preservation Policy
Ethical Obligations
of Archaeologsits
How can YOU
preserve the past?
Who Owns the Past?
Key Laws in United States Preservation
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
1) The past is the root of our cultural and individual IDENTITIES.

2) The past provides an APPRECIATION of human ingenuity & cultural diversity through time.

3) The past gives us long-term PERSPECTIVES of cultural change & solutions to problems.
United Nations Educational, Scientific,
& Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Preserving the Past
for the Future

* Approach the interpretation of the past from a muli-vocal perspective by collaborating with descendant communities.

* Share the results of their research to educate the public about the importance of the past & role of archaeology in issues of social justice.

* Be aware of how their research might be used for political agendas & actively criticize interpretations of the past that promote social injustice.
* Reduce your footprint -- un-critical economic development destroys archaeological sites along with the environment!

* Support institutions that promote responsible stewardship of the past.

* Learn about the past & share what you know to increase public awareness & appreciation.
* The past is not the property of any individual or nation.

* The past belongs to all of us!

*We all have a duty to protect the past.
Recommendation on International Principles Applicable to Archaeological Excavations (1956).

1) “The contemplation and study of works of the past do much to foster mutual understanding between nations.”

2) “History of man implies the knowledge of all different civilizations.”

3) “National authorities responsible for the protection of the archaeological heritage should be guided by certain common principles.”
4) Warring nations should refrain from digging or damaging each other’s antiquities.

Unfortunately, civil unrest and warfare often threaten archaeological sites and museums.

-Provides oversight and funding to support the preservation of culturally significant properties on public land.

-Established the National Register of Historic Places.
Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act of 1990
-Established the rights of lineal descendants, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations to cultural items, including human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.

-Fostered collaboration between archaeologists and descendant communities.
Preservation is a Matter of Social Justice
3) The story of minorities & groups under-represented by history can be recovered in the archaeological record.
Colonialism in the New World
Colonies are territories in which sovereignty over people, government, & economy is claimed by a colonizing government.

Based on an exploitative relationship & unequal balance of power!

Brought about profound changes in:
1) Economy (Local & Global)

2) Foodways

3) Demography

4) Social Disruption
-Example) Fur trade

-Foods exchanged between continents
-People enslaved to grow commercial crops.

-Spread of diseases

-Loss of elders & knowledge
-Displacement of populations
The past is a NON-RENEWABLE resource!
Case Study: The Mound Builder Controversy
When Europeans re-discovered earthen mounds throughout North America, they posited fantastic theories about the origins of the mounds - built by a "lost" race!

Thus, denying Native
American's their
cultural achievements
and land rights.

Ultimately, it was the scientific study of mounds by
archaeologists that proved these racist theories wrong.
Case Study: Looting in Developing Nations
Poverty and looting are
inherently linked.

Capitalism makes looting a lucrative “business”.

The greed of individuals
in wealthy nations fuels
the black market
antiquity trade.
Frontline Documentary: "Plunder"
The only way to stop looting & protect sites is to support social development & equity of resources.
Case Study: Archeology of Native American Boarding Schools
Federal Boarding Schools were part of a
disastrous United States policy to
assimilate Native Americans that
brought about cultural genocide.

Historic records are biased in favor of the United States government and do not tell the Native American perspective.

Archaeological study of Boarding Schools in collaboration with descendant communities can provide new insight into this dark period of United States history.
To Support Preservation & Social Justice
The Public Role in Preservation
1) Politically motivated destruction of past is an attempt to erase another culture - cultural genocide.
Example) Colonialism in the Americas
2) Looting of sites is often motivated by poverty & unequal distribution of wealth around the globe.
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