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Working Together --

Working Together in California

Philip de Barros

Author's Note: This article provides a brief history of the Native American Programs Committee (NAPC) of the Society for California Archaeology (SCA). The first efforts of this committee were reported in the SAA Bulletin [1993, 11(3)] in an article entitled, "Native Americans and Archaeologists Working Together Toward Common Goals in California." This article inspired the Working Together column that has since become a permanent feature of the Bulletin.

The history of the relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans in the context of the history of the Society for California Archaeology (SCA) goes back more than 30 years. For a broad overview of this topic, see Joseph Chartkoff's article, "California Indians and Archaeology: A Special Report," in News from Native California 1996, 9(4): 2­3. This article focuses primarily on the history and efforts of the Native American Programs Committee (NAPC) created in 1992.

Although there have been archaeologists, such as Dave and Vera Mae Fredrickson and Chester King who have worked with Native Americans in the spirit of cooperation since the SCA was founded, "a review of SCA Newsletters from the first 15 years of the SCA's existence (1967­1981) shows few published cases of interaction between the two groups, suggesting that Native American concerns were not especially high on the SCA's agenda" (Chartkoff 1996: 2). Chartkoff goes on to explain the reasons for this: (1) California's Native American community was smaller and less well organized; (2) archaeologists were focused on chronology and cultural sequences, which were relatively removed from Native American concerns except, of course, when they involved the excavation and analysis of burials; and (3) the scale of archaeological fieldwork was relatively small in those days. The passage of historic preservation laws in the 1960s and 1970s and the quantum leap in archaeological excavation that eventually resulted, the movement of archaeology toward a study of culture systems and culture change which were related more to Indian concerns, the rise of Native American consciousness during the civil rights movement, and the advent of California Indian Conferences in 1985 significantly altered this situation (Chartkoff 1996: 2­3).

It was in 1985 that I returned to California after a long period of conducting archaeological research in West Africa. I had completed my Ph.D. from UCLA and began working for Chambers Group in Orange County as director of cultural resources. My African research had consisted of tightly interwoven archaeological, ethnographic, and ethnohistorical studies, and I had become accustomed to working regularly with African peoples as I conducted my research. During the first few years working in California archaeology, I was shocked to see the frequent lack of communication and cooperation between archaeologists and Native Americans. I remember being introduced to the well-known California ethnologist, Lowell Bean, as "one of the good archaeologists," as if most were in fact bad. In 1986, I remember attending the second California Indian Conference in Santa Barbara and witnessing a spectacle of cultural anthropologists chastising archaeologists for their insensitivity about the issue of human remains. Determined to make a difference within my own firm, I began to use Native American monitors in 1986 and by 1988, began to employ Native American crew trainees during archaeological excavations.

Other archaeologists of the early- to mid-1980s also saw the need for improved communication and cooperation. At the 1980 SCA Annual Meeting in Redding, a "Native American Symposium, participants to be announced" was held on a Saturday morning. NAPC member Janet Eidsness remembers seeing Native Americans at the SCA Annual Meeting for the first time. Past meetings regarding Native American concerns had tended to be non-Indians talking about the need to work with Indians. When Indians actually came to the meeting, many archaeologists were uncertain of what to do or say (J. Eidsness, personal communication, April 1999). A "Common Goals Symposium" was organized at the 1986 SCA Annual Meeting in Santa Rosa to discuss the common goals of cultural resource managers and California Native Americans. This symposium was attended by more than 70 people, almost half of which were Native American. In 1987, at the Annual Meeting in Fresno, Robert Laidlaw organized a session on "Law, Public Policies, and the Management of Cultural Resources." A number of papers focused in part on Native American issues including human burials, presented primarily by non-Indian speakers. At this meeting, some Native Americans criticized archaeologists for their lack of respect for Native American concerns, while another group supported archaeologists' efforts to retrieve the past (Chartkoff 1996: 3). In 1988, June Wilburn, organized a "Native American Indian Issues and Perspectives" morning session at the SCA Annual Meeting in Redding, which included both Indian and non-Indian speakers. This meeting also saw a presentation on cupule rocks in the Pit River region by Native American Floyd Buckskin collaborating with archaeologist Arlene Benson.

At the spring 1990 Annual Meeting in Foster City, acrimonious discussions developed between archaeologists regarding the issue of the repatriation of human remains at the SCA Business Meeting. In October 1990, I listened to passionate debate on the issue of repatriation and reburial of Native American human remains in the context of the proposed state Katz bill and federal NAGPRA legislation at the Sixth California Indian Conference in Riverside. I was struck by the reluctance of archaeologists in the audience to express their views and the general Native American hostility toward archaeologists. From then on, I began to speak out publicly and write about the need for cooperation between archaeologists and Native Americans. After the Riverside meeting, I asked Larry Myers, executive secretary of the California Native American Heritage Commission, if I could address a letter to the commission about my views on the issue of human remains. He offered to publish my "Letter from a Concerned Archaeologist" in the winter (fall) 1990 issue of the Native American Heritage Newsletter. It was reprinted in the SCA Newsletter in January 1991. In this article, I stressed four points with regard to the issue of human remains: (1) as anthropologists, archaeologists are ethically required to work with the living descendants of inhabitants of sites that we study; (2) human remains can provide important scientific information for both Native Americans and archaeologists alike, but science should not automatically take precedence over the wishes of Native American groups; (3) basic human rights are involved when it comes to the disposition of human remains; and (4) there should be a flexible policy with regard to repatriation and reburial oriented toward case-by-case negotiations.

At the SCA Annual Meeting in Sacramento in March 1991, Dave Fredrickson (Sonoma State University) issued an appeal for improved cooperation between Native Americans and archaeologists. After that appeal, I met with Fredrickson and Claude Warren (University of Nevada at Las Vegas) to discuss how we might proceed to accomplish this. The support we received for our efforts encouraged us to push forward. In 1992, I began a series of articles in the SCA Newsletter which focused on how cooperative efforts might be developed. Leslie Steidel also contributed an article. These suggestions included: (1) telephone or in-person solicitation of Native American concerns regarding project impacts and archaeological excavations, (2) inclusion of Native Americans at the research design stage, (3) provision of copies of all reports to interested groups, (4) regular use of Native American monitors during excavation, (5) use of Native American crew members (including as crew trainees) for both survey and excavation, (6) working cooperatively with Indians on the issue of human remains and associated grave goods, (7) more emphasis on ethnographic and ethnohistoric research during archaeological projects, (8) a greater focus on site preservation rather than site mitigation, and (9) participation of Native American elders in archaeological field schools in an effort to get away from an archaeology of "things" toward an archaeology of "people." I put this latter philo-sophy into practice during two UCLA field schools in the summers of 1991 and 1993 and presented the concept as a paper at the Seventh California Indian Conference at Sonoma State in 1991.

In 1992, Dick Markley was elected president of the SCA. Thanks to his vision, the Native American Programs Committee was established by the SCA Executive Board on June 7, 1992. I was named chair. Markley suggested the committee move forward in a number of domains, including creating an SCA scholarship fund, organizing a symposium focusing on "success stories" involving Native Americans and archaeologists, helping Native American groups to establish curation facilities and train in collections management, and developing programs to increase Native American participation in archaeological fieldwork as archaeological technicians [Markley, 1992, SCA Newsletter 26(4)].

The first major effort of the committee was to organize a symposium that would showcase successful examples of cooperation between Native Americans and archaeologists in California. This took place at the 1993 SCA Annual Meeting in Asilomar. It was complemented by a second symposium focused on how Indians and archaeologists often view cultural resources from different perspectives. Both were highly successful and were very well attended by the membership. During the 1993 SCA Annual Meeting, Mark Aldenderfer (University of California-Santa Barbara), who had just taken on editorship of the SAA Bulletin, asked me to provide an article on Native American issues. The resulting article focused on the creation of the Native American Programs Committee and the success of the Asilomar conference. It was published in summer 1993.

In 1994, I spoke on the issue of cooperation between Native Americans and archaeologists at two national conferences. The first was a meeting of Army Corps of Engineers' archaeologists at the SAA 59th Annual Meeting in Anaheim, where I emphasized the importance of Traditional Cultural Properties. At the Department of Defense's Biennial Conference held in Pensacola, Florida, in June 1994, I presented a history of the Native American Programs Committee and emphasized the dual nature of cultural resources, as both scientific resources and Native American heritage resources.

In 1995, the committee sponsored a major Native American symposium at the SCA Annual Meeting in Eureka. It was organized by Bob Orlins. This symposium marked the beginning of a new policy, the waiver of registration fees for Native Americans desiring to attend SCA Annual Meetings. This year also saw the development of the concept of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) workshops for interested Native American groups to aid them in the protection of their cultural heritage. In January 1995, the committee began a series of meetings in the home of committee member Janet Eidsness with representatives of the Salinan Nation. The goal was to develop a 3-day CRM workshop tailored to the needs of the Salinan Nation and, in particular, to develop a detailed sourcebook to be used for such workshops [see SCA Newsletter 29(2)]. An article announcing such plans to California Native Americans also was published in the journal, News from Native California, in the winter 1994/1995 issue. A fund-raising effort initiated to support the costs of the workshop and source-book netted over $1,200 from individuals and CRM firms.

In May 1996, a very successful three-day workshop was held for the Salinan Nation at the San Antonio Mission. It focused on the following topics: (1) What are cultural resources? (2) state and federal CRM laws; (3) hands-on archaeological knowledge of artifacts and sites, including a site visit; (4) how to read a topographic map; (5) monitor/consultant roles and responsibilities, and (6) monitoring scenarios. It was followed by a one-day workshop in August 1996 centered on the interpretation of CRM documents and involvement in local, state, and federal planning processes.

The year 1996 also saw another first. Thanks to editor Malcolm Margolin and contributing editor Ray Moisa, a special report, "California Indians and Archaeology," was included in the summer 1996 issue of News from Native California. The 32-page supplement contained a series of both Indian and archaeologist views about past and present relationships between archaeologists and Indians.

Efforts to develop a similar workshop program in Bakersfield toward the end of 1996 encountered some serious difficulties. CRM workshops often are perceived as "monitoring workshops" by some Indian groups. This may bring up the issue of whether the workshop is for people who are the traditional descendants of the region where the workshop is being held. Most Indian groups do not see it as proper for Indians of one ethnic group or tribe to be serving as monitors in an area outside of their traditional territory. Attempts to resolve this problem in the Bakersfield area became insurmountable. A workshop was ultimately held involving a number of regional archaeologists, but it was not officially sponsored by the SCA.

At the request of local Pomo and other Indian groups, a major forum for archaeologist­Native American interaction was organized at the 1997 SCA Annual Meeting. For the first time, some major Indian leaders were invited to participate, including Larry Myers, the executive secretary of the California Native American Heritage Commission, and Dwight Deutschke from the SHPO's office. The forum, attended by over 100 Indians, hosted a very frank exchange of views between Indians and archaeologists from both the public and private sectors. This forum, headed by attorney Pauline Girvin, led to a request for a CRM workshop from the Mendocino County Tribal Chairpersons Association and the Mendocino County Intertribal Repatriation Project. The workshop was held in March 1998 at the Coyote Valley Reservation near Ukiah and was an unqualified success. And, just a month earlier, in February 1998, Ken Wilson of the SCA and the Six Rivers National Forest organized a similar workshop for Yurok and Tolowa Indians.

In April 1998, the NAPC tried something new. Heretofore, we had worked in close cooperation with a single tribe or small regional group to organize workshops, such as with the Salinans and the Mendocino Pomo. This time, it decided to hold a one-day CRM workshop during the course of the Annual Meeting in San Diego, inviting Indians from all over southern California. Documents from previous workshops were compiled into A Minisourcebook on Cultural Resource Management, Archaeology, and Cultural Heritage Values for the Native American Communities of California. Over 120 copies were distributed free of charge to the Indians who attended the San Diego workshop. The workshop had standing room only and nearly every Indian group from southern California sent representatives. The workshop consisted of presentations on CRM laws, traditional cultural properties, the Yurok Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), a demonstration of flintknapping, the use of topographic maps, and a roundtable discussion of monitoring roles and responsibilities, including a discussion of "what if" monitoring scenarios.

Demand for the Minisourcebook has been substantial. It was recently revised to include information on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the creation of the California Register of Historical Places. Additional material on the differences between projects falling under CEQA (state law) and Section 106 (federal law) were clarified in an easy-to-read chart.


". . . the Native American Programs Committee has come a long way . . . In seven years, the committee has organized a series of symposia, forums, and workshops for various regions and Native American groups and developed a useful sourcebook for Native American communities. Most important, however, Native American participation at annual SCA meetings is now the expected pattern rather than the exception. Increasingly, Native Americans want to attend our Annual Meeting whether they are participating in an organized session or not."

Important CRM laws were presented in three formats: a brief paragraph description, a lengthier explanation, and the full text of the law. Several glossaries of archaeological and historic preservation terms also were included. The book also contains guidance on traditional cultural properties, excerpts from the Keepers of the Treasures report by the National Park Service, an Indian's viewpoint about the nature of archaeology, and a list of the courses offered in anthropology and archaeology at community colleges across the state.

On April 24, 1999, at the SCA Annual Meeting in Sacramento, a major forum, "California's Indian Heritage into the 21st Century: Walking the Road to Collaboration," took place. For the first time, a formal invitation was sent out to 270 Native American individuals and groups to attend the Annual Meeting. The forum included a wide spectrum of Indian leaders, CRM archaeologists, agency archaeologists, and consultants. It was attended by over 170 Indians and archaeologists and saw some of the most useful and insightful exchanges between the two groups since the founding of the NAPC. It was both encouraging and heartwarming. The Sourcebook sold out rapidly and another 30 people requested copies. After the meeting, the NAPC met and picked up many ad-ditional Indian and non-Indian members. It is an exciting time.

In short, the Native American Programs Committee has come a long way since 1992. In seven years, the committee has organized a series of symposia, forums, and workshops for various regions and Native American groups and developed a useful sourcebook for Native American communities. Most important, however, Native American participation at annual SCA meetings is now the expected pattern rather than the exception. Increasingly, Native Americans want to attend our Annual Meeting whether they are participating in an organized session or not.

Future goals of the NAPC include the development of a scholarship program for Native Americans, the presentation of a formal award in recognition of Native American scholarship at future annual meetings, and the inclusion of Native Americans in some of the standing committees of the SCA.

I stepped down as chair of the NAPC in April 1999; the new chair is long-time committee member Janet Eidsness. A great deal has been accomplished and much more remains to be done, but I believe the SCA has succeeded in moving toward improved communications between Native Americans and archaeologists. Indeed, we are now "Working Together." ·

Philip de Barros, former chair of the Native American Programs Committee for the Society for California Archaeology, is associate professor of anthropology at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.

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