Date of Award

5-2012

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Pauleena M. MacDougall

Second Committee Member

Carol N. Toner

Third Committee Member

Brian S. Robinson

Abstract

The relationship between archaeologists and Native Americans, which has a long history, is currently undergoing transformation. In this thesis I examine this relationship, and I have found that there has been a striking increase in the two groups interacting and working together in recent decades. Using interviewing techniques with both Native and non-native participants who are engaged in archaeology in Maine on various levels and a review of published literature, I demonstrate how this relationship is being restructured. The result shows fundamental shifts in viewpoints on both sides are occurring. Many of the changes were precipitated by earlier criticisms from Native people, who felt that they and their cultures were being treated disrespectfully. This resulted in the passage of laws, including the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990, that mandated change. Archaeologists were also growing cognizant of the impact their work had on indigenous communities and were expanding their methodologies to include them more often. At the same time this was happening, the field of Cultural Resource Management or compliance archaeology was growing dramatically. Subsequently, there was a rise in opportunities to bridge the gap, and we see both formal and informal interactions become more frequent. Although all of the participants in the study agree that recent legislation and resultant increasing interactions have improved the relationship, it is apparent that having a set of "legislated ethics" also creates problems. These include using a check-list type approach rather than establishing genuine collaborations. Too often the Wabanaki are not included in all steps of the process, from designing research questions, analyzing, and interpreting, to producing the final product. Cultural affiliation issues having to do with NAGPRA are also very much present, as postcolonial dynamics help create a setting where affiliation is still an ongoing question with persisting disagreement. This study looks at some of the other obstacles to effective collaboration, and it provides and analyzes examples of collaborative efforts to show the various forms the relationship takes. It also suggests ways to improve the relationship by moving it forward, towards more equal partnership and collaborations.

Share