The first time I was introduced to thinking about the things archaeologist find, the things we see in museum exhibits, even the things we buy and sell in thrift stores and auctions differently was during the FIMA group tour of the collections housed at the Confederate Tribes of Grande Ronde’s collections facility at Chachalu Historic Preservation Offices. Instead of referring to the items stored neatly on the collection shelves as “artifacts” or “objects” the Cultural Collection Coordinator Sybil Edwards explained that those things are “belongings”. What an interesting concept to consider a slight change in wording could have such a profound effect on the way we think about the things archaeologists dig up.
Belonging has a much more personal and deeper connotation than merely labeling everything with the scientific coldness inherent in “artifact.” Belonging implies that the things archaeologist find, or those items that are donated to the collections, are connected to a person that there is a narrative and a story that the item has to tell. A belonging has had a life of its own and formed connections with people and places.
Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center
The traditional questions that researchers ask of material culture are questions such as “How was it made?” “What was it used for?” “What is it made out of?” But, changing the word from artifact to belonging in describing these objects also changes the questions we ask. Instead of asking standard scientific questions associated with an artifact or specimen, “belonging” not only reflects the way the community understands objects, but also helps researchers think of things in a different way. Instead we are more likely to ask more personal questions of a belonging such as what are the stories behind these connections and what can we learn about its journey of belonging? We begin to focus on who. Who did this item belong to? Who were they and what was this item to them?
Re-writing Burien and White Center’s history with communicative narratives, and arming its people with resources to fight massive tenant evictions
After the amazing journey of having studied the differences between narrative community histories, and those official accounts, as well as looking at the wave of tenant evictions, these are the conclusions I’m taking with me, as well as the continuation of this project in collaboration with WCCDA and Future Wise:
- We find ourselves in a smaller community on the outskirts of a larger metropolitan area that still harbors a predominantly old blue-collar, working class, white conservative population, which is similar to those earlier colonial settlers that started exploiting the land for timber.
- This conservative community has clashed with the immigration waves from different corners of the world where the US started or collaborated on wars: According to some integration programs from WCCDA, even though POC and older white folks might get along when they live door to door, there is still a fear of being “erased” by those conservative folks: Leading to hate-motivated actions like the publishing of a list of “illegal and criminal immigrants” on a map that scared many people, where Hugo Garcia commented as well on several articles:
- https://www.kuow.org/stories/after-controversial-flier-burien-neighbors-fight-back-love-letters “After controversial flier, Burien neighbors fight back with ‘love letters’”
- Negative stereotypes rooted in earlier late 1800’s days, still prevail, marking this area as “no the most desirable to live” and therefore, making prices low and habitable for these immigrant communities. However, I believe these stereotypes also give people in power the permission to remove them as gentrification advances.
- These negative stereotypes could be used against targeted immigrant communities in times of Trump, following up to those hateful fliers depicting latinx people as “drug dealers, criminals etc”, and give more permission to “those in power” to displace people in larger numbers.
- I believe that by collecting narrative accounts and putting all the different programs and resources that these associations do for the community in one single, attractive and easy to use website, people who are either moving in or afraid that they might be displaced, it will be beneficial!
Scan your eyes over a standard-issue map of North America, and you will find names of European political leaders, explorers, and places repeated across the Canadian Arctic: Victoria Island, Melville Peninsula, Cambridge Bay. These names offer little acknowledgement of Inuit presence, which extends for millennia across the land, ice, and water today known as the Canadian Arctic. For my final project in Historical Archaeology, I explored community-based research on Inuit place names and how that can help us understand memory, identity, colonialism, and interpretation in the Arctic. Interwoven with place names are the politics of colonialism, the sovereignty of language, and the creation of historical narratives through interpretation.
The most striking result of my research was how colonial legacies continue to influence narratives of history, identity, and indigeneity today. Archaeologists have the ability to use their work to deconstruct colonial systems put in place to disrupt the communication of traditional knowledge––known as Inuit qaujimajatuqangit––and to advance social justice in the Arctic. For academics used to controlling every aspect of research design and execution, sharing authority with communities can be an unsettling. But I would argue that for archaeology to remain relevant in today’s world, the field can no longer hold itself apart and above the people in it.
Hello everyone! I go by Lizzy and I am a first year graduate student in the Archaeology program here at UW. I wandered around the national parks for about five years before grad school, working with curators, archivists, and archaeologists to make park collections more accessible to the public. Side note: almost every national park has a significant museum and archives collection –– go enjoy them!
At UW, I want to work with communities in the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic to explore cultural and natural resource management in the face of a rapidly changing environment. Guided by my UW mentors and the decolonizing methodologies of Amy Lonetree and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, I am here to learn ethical modes of academic research and professional practice before I wander back out and help decolonize curation in the national parks. Until then, hello! #findyourpark #resistcuration #decolonizeordie