Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Archaeology
Indigenous communities across the United States were coerced and tricked into signing treaties that ceded significant portions of their ancestral lands. This land holds cultural value to the tribal members, however academics and archaeologists who do not often shared these values analyze these landscapes to determine their cultural and historical significance, a decision-making process mandated by federal and often state law that has important economic, political, and social consequences. This paper analyzes examples from one context, cultural resource management (CRM) projects in the Northern Great Lakes Region of Wisconsin, Michigan, North and South Dakota and Minnesota, as a case study to evaluate (1) consultation procedures with Indigenous tribes in the region for assessing cultural resource values; (2) the criteria for determining significance; (3) accessible, published evidence of significance of the project regions; (4) local impacts of the archaeological decision making. Methodologies for evaluating CRM reports include a critical analysis of descriptive language terms and content analysis as well as re-contextualization of archaeological results within Indigenous-centered frames of reference. Published historical accounts as well as public statements by Indigenous community members offer such frames of reference, a start that. Results show that the language and its implications of these reports is biased, often colonizing, and racist that negates many closely held Indigenous belief systems. The specific context in the Northern Great Lakes Region, where indigenous communities have witnessed multiple CRM projects that have ignored their beliefs about the values of local landscapes. The determinations of significance in CRM work on Indigenous lands have had important consequences and, in some cases, even destroyed the landscape. This thesis adds a new layer of understanding, and actively works to decolonize CRM practices, and bring indigenous voices into contract archaeology.
Indigenous lands have had important consequences and, in some cases, even destroyed the landscape.
WOODS, JUSTIN Allen, "The Significance of Significance: Decolonizing Cultural Resource Management Practices in the Upper Midwest" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 1480.