December 10 marks the 65th anniversary of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration’s scope and mission was foundational and unprecedented because it asserted human-kind’s innate political, economic, and social rights.
Civically engaged archeology can play a unique role in this declaration’s enactment—from providing the means to resolve historical discrepancies, to facilitating reflection and healing. Archeology conducted at both Manzanar and Minidoka—two Japanese internment camps during WWII—has provided a mode of healing for former internees and their families, while also allowing them to participate in the interpretation of the resources.
The discovery of the African Burial Ground has been heralded as one of “the most important archeological finds of our time.” The discovery and ensuing controversies spurred the engagement of descendant communities and scholars interested in the African Diaspora, and has served to challenge biased histories.
Colorado’s Sand Creek Massacre has been marked with controversy since it occurred in 1864. This site, where 160 Arapaho and Cheyenne were killed by nearly 600 troops, became visually unrecognizable a few decades after the attack occurred. Though the archeology there was controversial, it was integral to establishing the site’s boundaries to help create a sacred space where the attack can be memorialized. Learn more about the role of archeology in the development of Sand Creek National Historic Site.
Archeological projects, like those featured above, increasingly involve both local and descendant communities as archeologists recognize their ethical responsibilities to involve multiple stakeholders. Learn more >>
The national parks are home to a wide variety of research and educational projects. Our Projects in the Parks series touches on all aspects of archeology, including site survey, analysis, curation, consultation, education, technology, and ongoing efforts to recover sites being destroyed by erosion.
Our most recent Project investigates the earliest Americans. Archeological research at Yellowstone Lake, within Yellowstone National Park, is helping to resolve key questions about Native American use of the area. It is part of a larger project to define the role of Yellowstone Lake in the lifeways of Native Americans within the northwestern Great Plains, the northern Rocky Mountains, and the far northeastern edge of the Great Basin. Native Americans have used the lake and environs’ resources for at least the last 11,000 years. They traveled from the north, south, east, and west to take advantage of seasonal resources at the lake. Archeologists think that Native Americans were drawn by plant and animal resources to the lake, not fishing or boating.
Projects in the Parks also highlights the value of the National Parks as repositories of the raw data of the past, and the dedication of the people who protect, recover, and interpret those resources for our children and for those who are yet to come. Learn more >>
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