Interpretation for Archeologists   2. What is Interpretation?   Distance Learning

Why Does the NPS Interpret Archeology?

The NPS interprets archeology in order to carry out the NPS mission and to support its stewardship responsibilities for over 81,000 archeological sites and their collections and associated documentation. As a federal bureau operating on public funds in the public's trust, the NPS is tasked with preserving and protecting archeological resources on behalf of all Americans and our national park visitors.

Effective interpretation communicates why archeological resources are important, how the public can discover personal meaning in archeological resources for themselves, and what actions do or do not help the NPS manage archeological resources for this and the next generation. Because interpretation reaches the public when they are still forming their opinions, values and ethics, it is an important tool in engendering public awareness and support. Our overarching aim is to cultivate a stewardship ethic, a sense of shared ownership and lifelong commitment to preserving and protecting resources.

Thus, interpretation of archeological resources enables the NPS to:

  • Carry out federal law
  • Use archeology to educate and inspire
  • Ensure representation of its broad and deep constituency
  • Teach visitors appropriate behaviors around fragile and irreplaceable resources
  • Provide recreational opportunities
  • Describe the unique ways that archeology represents America's heritage
  • Ensure that archeological resources are available and accessible
  • Collaborate with state, local, and nonprofit partners
  • Strengthen the public's role in stewardship.

For Your Information

Our Mission
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

NPS Archeology Guide: Outreach
Review the federal law and NPS authorities that support archeology interpretation and education.

The National Strategy for Federal Archeology
Interpretation is a component of the National Strategy, which provides guidance to federal agencies with land-managing responsibilities.