Tag Archives: NHPA

Checks and Balances: The Legal Future for Archaeology and Archaeologists

If your Facebook feed as a fellow anthropologist is anything like mine, then you know the fear that has accompanied the election of the new president. My friends are expecting imminent deportations, registries, all of the worst possible scenarios. At a lower level of terror, my archaeologist friends are also fearing for their jobs and for our natural and archaeological resources. As a naturalized immigrant, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, and the adoring aunt of two biracial toddlers, I am not immune to the nightmare scenarios, and I also fear for the future of archaeology. But I am also a lawyer by training, and my legal background colors my views. There are checks and balances in place, and they are not just formalities, and that is what I want to write about this week. I’m not a constitutional scholar, nor an expert on the laws surrounding archaeology, so this is necessarily a basic and general discussion. I’ll try to address the laws that surround archaeology but also the possibility of civil rights violations that are really keeping people awake at night right now. And in the hopes of including people who might have different political views, I’m going to put [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]