Perhaps it goes without saying that people have been on and among the islands of Boston Harbor for thousands of years. We are attempting to learn more about these people—past and present—through a program of professional cultural anthropological research. This research is designed to provide park managers with information about the relationships between park resources and associated groups.
Traditionally-associated peoples are the contemporary park neighbors and ethnic or occupational communities that have been associated with the islands for two or more generations (40 years), and whose interests in the islands' resources began prior to their acquisition for public recreation, education, and conservation purposes. In the context of collaborative research, cultural anthropologists document the meanings that groups assign to traditional natural and cultural resources and the landscapes they form. The Boston Harbor Islands Partnership maintains this information, as well as data on the traditional knowledge systems that affect resource uses.
All of this type of "ethnographic" research is undertaken in cooperation with the associated groups. Collaborative, interdisciplinary research on contemporary cultural systems and the resources of park-associated groups involves the groups in the design and implementation of the research and the review of research findings to the fullest possible extent. We provide individuals or groups involved with, or directly affected by, the research with copies or summaries of the reports, as appropriate.