Tag Archives: indigenous archaeology

The World of Columbus Day is Flat

For Ty Tumminia: comrade, friend, anti-fascist, Black liberationist.  Last time we wrote, Andy Pragacz and I were exploring the spaces around Binghamton christened for Christopher Columbus, and how they came to take his name.  Today, we take that a bit further and ponder the Italian connection to Columbus, and why that narrative no longer serves the Italian community. Since the ethnic and race rebellions of the 1960s, Columbus’ place in the pantheon of American heroes has been jeopardized. By the 1990s, scholars annually sounded his final fall. Marking the 500 year anniversary one scholar confidently concluded that, like Custer before him, “it is now Christopher Columbus’s turn at the chopping block” (Lunenfeld 1992, 137). Twenty-five years later, Columbus is still in the American Olympus, but rather than seated next to Franklin, he’s dangling from the edge. Articles like “Should the United States Celebrate Columbus Day?” and “How Columbus Day Fell Victim to its Own Success”are commonplace around the 12th of October. Protesting Columbus Day is, in 2017, as much a part of the Columbus Day tradition as Italian flags. As the above Atlantic writer notes, the day is “marked by parades, pageantry, and buckets of fake blood.” So, Why does [Read More]

Bears Ears (Revisited) – All About Landscapes

Howdy! Last September, I wrote about the controversy surrounding the creation of Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah. I argued that while we as a nation have inherited the public lands of Southeastern Utah, that does not necessarily mean we own them. Furthermore, I suggested that as a consequence of the history of power relations in the U.S. West, “local” communities should not have “disproportionate power and authority to dictate land management strategies” on adjacent public lands. At the time, it was not certain whether or not the monument would be created. Well, in the waning days of his administration, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate a new 1.35 million acre national monument – Bears Ears became a reality. The designation was applauded by conservationists, environmental groups, archaeologists and tribal groups. For others, the monument came as a bitter pill, and opponents of the designation decried it as a “federal land grab.” Considering that nearly all the acreage that became Bears Ears National Monument was already administered by either the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, I’m not entirely sure who the federal government “grabbed” it from. I presume that opponents are referring to the possible removal of vast [Read More]

DAPL is the biggest issue in Public Archaeology right now

Howdy! I had planned out a nice narrative arc for this month’s blog post, but the rapidly evolving situation in North Dakota has encouraged me to throw some of those plans out the window. In this post I explain the string of legislation that has led to the showdown in North Dakota, and explore some of the implications for public archaeology. *Edit: while I was writing this, the Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Justice issued a joint statement effectively halting construction of DAPL within 20 miles of Lake Oahe. You can read it here. It very intriguingly insinuates that the government may revisit its process for tribal consultation.* The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL for short) is without a doubt the biggest issue in Public Archaeology right now. “But, why is this a *public* archaeology issue?” you may ask. “Doesn’t most of the pipeline route run through private land?” Well, the answer lies not only in the complicated legal framework of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, but also in Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899. These documents are laden with jargon and legalese, but I’ll try to break them down. [Read More]