Re: archaeology concerns (fwd)

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 08:13:23 -0600

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 03:26:34 -0400
From: natchat@GNOSYS.SVLE.MA.US
To: Multiple recipients of list NATCHAT <NATCHAT@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: archaeology concerns

Original Sender: (Bonnee Caplan)
Mailing List: NATCHAT (!black.decnet!lbush writes:
> I would love to hear people's ideas on what worries/upsets them about
> archaeology.

I would appeal to anyone to think how they would feel if you were first
kicked off your land and then strangers (who have _no_ idea of who is buried
on the land or what that person may have meant to you or your family) come
in with equipment to dig up those who _you_ put to rest there. And then
these people who want to study "the savages" tell you that you are making a
mountain out of a mole-hill when you get upset!

Many of us have had it up to our eyeballs (and beyond) with "good
intentioned" people wanting to "study" us. What, is the Anglo's history so
dull that he has to find someone else to study?? And because we long and
belong to one another that makes us interesting??

> Given some of the truly appalling things archaeologists and museum-types have
> perpetrated, I probably won't "love" hearing what people think
> about archaeology -- but it will certainly be instructive!)

The thing that I dislike about the way that "archaeologists" and other such
"scientists" (used in the loosest most possible definition) do their
research is that they get an idea and then since they must be right will
devour our land, lie to our people and try to invade our minds just to prove
that their thesis is right. How many times have I been told (both from
professional scientists and others that espouse their ideas on the
television as fact) that Anasazi's don't exist . . . but yet I live and my
parents lived and I am an Anasazi. But I can't be because according to
"Anglo" scientists we all died (I checked this morning when I got up and I'm
still alive).

>> From what I've read so far, it sounds like most authors see
> reburial as the major issue and arrogance as the major
> archaeological attitude problem.

There was a fairly large scandal here in Missouri last year after the floods
because some Anglo caskets were washed down stream and people cried on
television about their mother or grandmother who had died soooo long ago and
now the family doesn't know where grandma is! Now you don't want _your_
ancestors, grandmothers, mothers and fathers moved but we're supposed to get
excited?? Why? Because of the "scientists" and their "needs" to find out
about the world and all that stuff is more important than us or our needs?
What about talking _to_ us _before_ they do their _research_ (to validate
their thesis of course no matter how mistaken) and ask us _instead_ of the
federal government for permission? No, excuse me I forgot . . . we are an
occupied people and we don't deserve the kind of consideration that these
"scientists" would demand for their own families.

Certainly it's attitude that makes us crazy but it's also the assumption
that we're not very well educated or we're not made of the kind of feelings
that need to be considered when "compared to what science can find out."
Please!!! We have great feelings for our ancestors and we consider our
burial land sacred. Tell me what would your people do if a bunch of NA
scientists showed up to dig up your cemetaries (without your consent or
consideration) so we could better understand you?? Would you be hurt,
angry, feel betrayed . . . especially if the government that was supposed to
"protect you" gave the "official permission?" We were protected so much we
had our rightful land taken away and we were put on reservations and the
"scientists" and the "government" couldn't leave us alone after that but now
you want to dig up our ancestors, our historical living places, our culture
and you want to know why we get upset??

Of course maybe it's me who doesn't understand because I would never betray
your trust, I wouldn't lie to you or use you for my own devices . . . must
be a difference in culture that I'll never understand.

> Any insights you can offer would be greatly appreciated -- and
> duly cited in my exam presentation :-)

You asked for it Leslie, I'm not attacking you but rather the system that
can't understand why we would be upset or outraged or angry at a century of
betrayal and then pat us on the head and tell us "it'll be over soon." When
I die no doubt.