Preserving the Past Together

One of the topics raised at the seminar for Preserving the Past Together on January 12, 2017 was “Paths forward for preserving heritage together”. A way in which archaeologists can work toward these paths are by physically going to the communities. Physically being in the community allows archaeologists to hear from directly from members, which gives them more information and multiple perspectives. This then allows archaeologists to more accurately record histories, and therefore more accurately preserve the past. At the seminar, Leonard Cambell said, “I have information they can’t get out of a book.” This really made me think. They mentioned there are items that have certain knowledge involved which is sometimes kept from archaeologists. This information might have been left out because the archaeologist wasn’t trusted, or the they didn’t find an opportunity to discover a more complete truth.

This ties into a question that I was stumped on for the rest of the day. The question was, “How do you protect something you can’t even talk about?” Archaeologists must earn the trust of the tribes, representatives, and the staff to accomplish this. Identifying the tribe, and meeting and communicating with representatives and staff are ways in which archaeologists can earn trust, and then be given a more complete truth. One member mentioned how they would appreciate if someone interested in their history would write an email including more than just two sentences. If someone is interested in an honest history, won’t they have more questions or comments than two sentences? What are they really interested in?

It’s important that archaeologists allow communities to tell their own story. What right does an archaeologist have in telling someone else’s story anyway? Especially if they don’t have as much of the truth as they could have uncovered with identifying, meeting, and communicating with members or representatives.

– Stephanie H.