World Archaeological Congress


Newsletter: Volume 27 April 2009

Contributions to the next WAC Newsletter due 18th May 2009

Archaeologists Without Borders Workshop

Report on the website of the World Archaeological Congress

Archaeologies of Art Podcast Series Launched!

Call for WAC members to nominate Indigenous people

World Archaeological Congress honors Larry Zimmerman

Dr Andree Rosenfeld

Recommendation on ERA Draft Quality Ranking

WAC-6 Media Releases

WAC-6 Closing Ceremony Speech

Portuguese WAC-6 Media Releases

German WAC-6 Media Releases

Spanish WAC-6 Media Releases

Turkish WAC-6 Media Releases

Czech. WAC-6 Media Release on Iran



Introduction - Programme

Session Titles

Who is Indigenous?
Sven Ouzman , South Africa, ; Joram Useb, Namibia, ; Joe Watkins, USA,

Indigenous Paths to Archaeology
George Nicholas, Canada, ; Sonya Atalay, USA,

Relationships between archaeologists, teaching institutions, heritage organisations, and Māori
Discussants to be announced

The Representation Of Indigenous Peoples In Archaeological Theory 
Alejandro Haber, Argentina,; Gabriel De La Luz Rodríguez, Puerto Rico,

Museums: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Dorothy Lippert, USA,

Protecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property
Ken Isaacson, Australia,; Julie Hollowell, USA,; George Nicholas, Canada,

Repatriation: Issues for Communities
Naomi Anderson, Australia,; Chris Wilson, Australia,

Resolving The Conflicts Between Archaeological And Indigenous Significance In Heritage Assessments
Desiree Martinez, USA,; David Johnston, Australia,; Sven Haakinson, USA,

Parallel Perspectives
Carol Ellick, USA,

The NAGPRA: Triumphs, Trials, and Tribulations Voices from Indian Country
Diane Lorraine Teeman, USA,

Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Archaeology
Joe Watkins, USA,

International Repatriation: building relationships and empowering communities
Lyndon Ormond Parker and Cressida Fforde

Session Abstracts

Who is Indigenous? (Sven Ouzman, South Africa,; Joram Useb, Namibia,; and Joe Watkins, USA,

What do you name yourself and what do other people call you? 'Indigenous', 'autochthonous', 'native', 'first nation', 'settler', 'colonist', 'immigrant' are names burdened with privileges and penalties. These names are usually 'exonyms' applied from outside rather than 'autonyms' applied from within. Naming and being named - ethnonomy - appears precise but often miscommunication occurs either because these names are incomprehensible or, more dangerously, they seem familiar but mean different things to different people. Isn't it curious how 'Europeans' seldom have to prove their European-ness? We need a common yet flexible definition or set of conditions of `indigeneity' to ensure properly respectful communication.

This communication needs to work at multiple scales. For example, The Ancient One from Kennewick, a person with a very specific history has, by legalistic and definitional sleight-of-hand been made into a 'national' heritage, undermining Native American sovereignty. This assumed right of access is also evident in San rock art, Māori tattoo designs and many other examples. Supporting Indigenous peoples‚ rights is a foundational concern of the World Archaeological Congress and informs WAC's Statutes, First Code of Ethics, Vermillion Accord on Human Remains, and stance on contemporary politics. But WAC-and archaeology generally-has failed to define/understand 'Indigenous' adequately so that such a definition/ understanding does not marginalise Indigenous people or patronise non-Indigenous people. This session aims robustly to discuss this issue.

Indigenous Paths to Archaeology (George Nicholas, Canada, ; Sonya Atalay, USA, )

Worldwide, the face of archaeology has literally changed as members of the non-Western groups once the subjects of anthropological inquiry are now involved in studying not only their own past but that of other peoples. In recent decades, archaeology has broadened its scope and opened its doors as a response to both internal discourse and external critiques-especially those coming from descendant communities. As a result, the discipline has become more responsible to and more representative of the many stakeholders who have an interest in the past.

One of the most significant changes in archaeology stems from the gradual increase in the number of Indigenous peoples participating in it. In the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere, the involvement of Indigenous peoples with archaeology has been shifting from guiding and working for archaeologists to employing archaeologists in the pursuit of land claims and now to directing and conducting their own archaeological projects. Today, there are not only Aboriginal people working full- or part-time for archaeologists, but also Aboriginal people who are themselves doing and teaching archaeology as a profession, or who have made a choice to enter academia to pursue this career.

This session explores the process of being and becoming Indigenous archaeologists as told by Indigenous scholars-from North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa-who are now university professors, CRM-practioners, community archaeologists, and graduate students.

 Relationships between archaeologists, teaching institutions, heritage organisations, and Māori Discussants to be announced

A central challenge of New Zealand archaeology is that of mediating between the interests of Māori who culture and ancestral heritage is the subject of study and, often, destruction, on one hand, and archaeologists, on the other. This panel takes up the challenge of investigating these relationships.

What is the state of relationships between Māori and archaeologists? What efforts are being made to develop or enhance these relationships? Are such relationships really necessary? This panel brings a range of perspectives to this discussion, calling on speakers from Māori communities, teaching institutions, heritage organizations and the statutory bodies responsible for Indigenous heritage in New Zealand.

The Representation Of Indigenous Peoples In Archaeological Theory (Alejandro Haber, Argentina,; Gabriel De La Luz Rodríguez, Puerto Rico,

While the politics of representation has been a guiding thread in most recent ethnographic and ethnological analysis, that is, the question of what is at stake and what possible power dynamics impress upon our writing about 'others', archaeology as a discipline has reflected very little about the same phenomenon. This symposium will hopefully provide a space to ponder the issue of representation in the production of archaeological theory and practice. Some of the questions that will be addressed include: how are indigenous peoples represented, if they are at all, by the diverse theories that have been used by archaeologists to account for their pasts? What are some of the social and political consequences that might stem from a mix of complex and competing archaeological theories when it comes down to the representation of indigenous cultures to the wider public? Furthermore, how do these theories imply or shape indigenous people's sense of themselves? In order to tackle some of these problems, both theoretical papers as well as specific case studies are welcome.

Museums: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Dorothy Lippert, USA,

The concept of a museum as a repository for human remains or exhibit space for cultural material is in many ways, outside the sphere of Indigenous tradition. For many Indigenous populations, material of these types cannot be divorced from its human context and the idea of sequestering the material in a location foreign to its caretakers is contrary to morals and ethics. The course of history has not always taken Indigenous values into account, however, and museums worldwide continue to maintain collections of human remains and sacred cultural objects. Indigenous populations have begun to engage museums in a dialogue designed to impart moral and ethical knowledge to what are generally non-Indigenous institutions. This has frequently resulted in the return of human remains and cultural objects, but there are notable exceptions. This session will explore ways in which Indigenous groups have worked successfully with museums, ways in which the dialogue has broken down and barriers to this process that are rooted firmly in the perceived nature of a museum.

Protecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (Ken Isaacson, Australia, ; Julie Hollowell, USA ; and George Nicholas, Canada, )

Today, issues of ownership of, and access to, cultural and intellectual property lie at the forefront of archaeology and other disciplines that deal with Indigenous forms of cultural expression and knowledge. Worldwide, archaeology has met growing involvement on the part of Indigenous peoples, other descendant communities, for-profit companies, and host governments in everything from permitting excavations to claims exerted over artifacts and research data. At the same time, descendant communities have voiced legitimate concerns about the procurement, dissemination and exploitation of cultural and intellectual property.

As commodifications of cultural pasts and claims over uses of the past continue to expand, questions about sharing the benefits of research and concerns about unauthorized or commercial uses of knowledge, images, stories, and designs will persist and fuel debate, or even legal action. The inability of current forms of intellectual and cultural property law to protect collective or perpetual interests in Indigenous forms of cultural expression is well known. While some efforts are underway to draft new forms of national and international guidelines for protection of Indigenous cultural and intellectual property, Indigenous communities, artists, organizations and tradition bearers have become ever more vocal about pursuing their own remedies by whatever means are available. Instead of waiting for new laws to emerge, they are making use of available legal mechanisms; developing their own policies, protocols, and negotiated agreements; building alternative trade and research networks; and taking other creative approaches to strengthen protection for cultural and intellectual heritage. Issues of cultural and intellectual property rights are also entwined with ongoing struggles for sovereignty, self-determination, subsistence rights, and social and economic equality and cultural integrity shared by Indigenous peoples all over the world.

Contending with intellectual and cultural property concerns in archaeology will require crafting new terms of engagement and compromise that protect and respect Indigenous knowledge and the archaeological record alike and promote more equitable sharing of benefits and knowledge produced by research. This session will draw from the practical experiences of communities and researchers who have contended with these issues. We seek examples of case studies, protocols, and research relationships that show how Indigenous communities and archaeologists can work together to protect Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights. Other questions this session might address include: What are the major concerns when it comes to protecting Indigenous cultural and intellectual properties and what forms of customary or legal protection apply? What are the key elements of successful, equitable resolu­tions to intellectual and cultural property concerns, and how can translate these into policy, protocols, and mutually beneficial research relationships.

 Repatriation: Issues for Communities (Naomi Anderson, Australia,; Chris Wilson, Australia,

This session aims to provide a forum for Indigenous perspectives on issues faced by Indigenous communities around the globe, in dealing with the repatriation of Indigenous ancestral remains and associated material.

This session will open an area for discussing the social, cultural and political effects of repatriation within Indigenous communities. It will consider the issues that repatriation generates within a community context and explore Indigenous cultural concerns relevant to communities when dealing with Indigenous ancestral remains. It will also explore steps taken by Indigenous groups seeking to form collaborative and joint partnerships with institutions such as museums recognizing Indigenous rights to care their ancestors in an attempt to pursue ownership of the past and control of their future.

Resolving The Conflicts Between Archaeological And Indigenous Significance In Heritage Assessments (Desiree Martinez, USA, ; David Johnston, Australia, ; and Sven Haakinson, USA, )

Much recent archaeological literature has highlighted a growing concern with the fracture between current cultural heritage management practice and the concerns of Indigenous people. This includes the undue emphasis placed on sites as the dominant units of cultural heritage management and the inflexibility of this approach in the face of the more abstract knowledge systems belonging to Indigenous peoples.

This session will consider how Indigenous and Western approaches to establishing significance have informed current debates in archaeological heritage assessment. Different approaches can generate conflict, which can be interpreted in terms of a clash of worldviews, particularly in terms of capitalist and Indigenous approaches to the construction of knowledge, time and space. This session will key into an emerging debate amongst archaeologists and cultural heritage managers about the most appropriate ways to identify and manage the living heritage of Indigenous peoples, their land and seascapes.

Parallel Perspectives

Carol Ellick (USA,

There is more than one story of the past. Archaeology presents a scientific story of human existence, one that is based on hypotheses, data, and interpretation. Cultures have traditional stories that interpret and maintain the past through oral histories, stories, and traditions.

Parallel Perspectives is an educational program that encourages children to "listen" to stories from the scientific and traditional perspectives. Students initiate their own research, and create a personal interpretation through the process of comparing and contrasting what they've learned. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer, simply an enlightening process that helps students build a personal framework for the past.

This session will highlight Parallel Perspectives and outreach and educational programs that focus on teaching indigenous and non-indigenous children cultural history through the incorporation of archaeology and traditional stories.

The NAGPRA: Triumphs, Trials, and Tribulations Voices from Indian Country

Diane Lorraine Teeman, USA,

Many tribal communities have been impacted by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act since its inception in 1990. Originally heralded as unprecedented human rights legislation moving our U.S. society towards greater racial equality, the NAGPRA has had mixed results. Federally recognized and unrecognized indigenous North American cultures continue negotiating the return of their ancestors' remains. In some instances, the NAGPRA has facilitated the return of human remains and other items to tribal groups. Conversely, the NAGPRA has also served as an impediment to the repatriation of human remains and other items for "unrecognized" tribal groups and tribal groups determined to have "no scientifically identifiable cultural affiliation." Fourteen years after the NAGPRA's inception, many questions are unresolved. The future of the NAGPRA and other proposed legislative acts for protection of indigenous human remains is yet to be determined. This symposium endeavors to provide a forum which projects tribal communities' perspectives on the successes and failures of the NAGPRA legislation. At the heart of this symposium is the desire to facilitate productive dialogue between indigenous North Americans and anthropologists, with an emphasis on the presentation and discussion of indigenous epistemologies as they interact with western ideological systems.

Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Archaeology

Joe Watkins, USA,

This session will provide the opportunity to present papers on a broad range of issues concerning the uses and abuses of archaeology for indigenous populations.

International Repatriation: building relationships and empowering communities

Lyndon Ormond Parker and Cressida Fforde

This session will look at various aspects of international repatriation, with focus on policy and legislation, and on the practical processes, challenges and outcomes that are presented. Over the past 15 years, indigenous human remains have begun to be repatriated across international borders, particularly from Europe. There is a growing knowledge base of skills and experience by all represented in the process, and this session will provide a forum for discussion about what can be learned from the past and developed in the future.