Session: Examining the Historic Context for the Antiquities Act (1879-1906)
Chair: Francis P. McManamon, National Park Service
Society of American Archaeology Annual Conference, April 2, 2005
How the Conflict Between East and West Resulted in the Antiquities Act. Hal Rothman, Department of History, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
(Abstract) The Antiquities Act of 1906, the law that allowed the establishment of national monuments, was a potent addition to the arsenel of conservation. The law resolved a long-standing struggle between the eastern establishment and westerners who lived in proximity to archaeological ruins. Since the 1880s, the two loosely defined groups had struggled for control of American prehistory; The Antiquities Act demonstrated a victory for the institutional and professional. The act heralded the end of openness in the West, replacing the actions of individuals with the decisions of institutions, an important shift in values.
The Antiquities Act in the Context of its Times. Richard West Sellars, National Park Service
(Abstract) The Antiquities Act of 1906 was passed soon after Congress established five national military parks at Civil War battlefields in the 1890s. These acts authorized the purchase of huge tracts of private lands and constituted by far the national government’s strongest commitment to historic preservation to that date. The Antiquities Act focused on archeological preservation in the Southwest; three weeks after the Antiquities Act passed, Congress established Mesa Verde National Park. Motivations for setting aside these important cultural sites in the East and the Southwest reflected commonly held convictions regarding the public good and the importance of cultural resource preservation.
The Antiquities Act: Harvard Connections. David L. Browman, Washington University, St Louis and Stephen Williams, Harvard University
(Abstract) The 1906 Antiquities Act was the culmination of non-governmental as well as governmental archaeological lobbying activities. The roots of the act can be derived from the early lobbying efforts of Frederic Putnam in recruiting colleagues from the Peabody Museum and other academic settings through his position with the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences in the late 1870s, in the name of preservation. The issue was of constant concern to Putnam; for a quarter of a century he utilized the resources of the Peabody Museum and the AAAS, and later the American Museum of Natural History, to push for federal level legislation.
Cultural Extermination and Archaeological Protection: Native Americans and the Development of the Antiquities Act of 1906. Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Center for Desert Archaeology
(Abstract) In the late 19th century, while advocates garnered support for a law protecting America's archaeological resources, the United States government was seeking to dispossess Native Americans of traditional lands and eradicate native languages and cultural practices. That the government should safeguard Indian heritage in one way while simultaneously enacting ruinous policies of cultural annihilation deserves close scrutiny, and may provide insights into the ways in which archaeology is drawn into complex socio-political processes. Focusing on the Southwest, this paper aims to further contextualize the Antiquities Act of 1906 by exploring what was happening in American Indian communities during its development.
Architectural Conservation and Developments Related to the Antiquities Act. Frank G. Matero, Program in Historic Preservation, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
(Abstract) At the end of the 19th century in the American Southwest, archeologists and architects began treating ancient and historic structures for conservation purposes. Although little recorded, examination of the physical remains of these conservation interventions can be used to understand the practices and materials used. European approaches and theories of conservation and interpretation also seem to have been familiar to at least some of the Americanists of this era.
Commodity or Culture?: The Department of the Interior and Archeology on Public Lands in the Late 19th Century. Francis P. McManamon, Departmental Consulting Archeologist, National Park Service
(Abstract) In the late 19th century, the Department of Interior's interest and involvement in archeology was spurred by public and Congressoinal pressure. Interest in preserving and protecting archeological resources was linked to the conservation of potential park areas and natural resources. Interior officials participated actively in the late phase of drafting of the legislation that became the Antiquities Act. The act established the crucial public policy that archeological resoruces are of primary importance for their commemorative, educational, and scientific value, rather than as commercial commodities.
- Examining the Historic Context for the Antiquities Act (1879-1906)—Discussant: Don Fowler, University of Nevada, Reno