AWA Statement on the Recent Anti-NAGPRA/Anti-Indigenous Paper at the 2021 SAA Annual Meeting
Dear AWA Members,
The AWA Board is monitoring what is happening at the SAA 2021 Annual Meeting. The SAA decided to platform anti-NAGPRA and anti-Indigenous proponents in a general session entitled, “Curation, Repatriation, and Accessibility: Vital Ethical Conversations” under the guise of “providing a space to offer diverse viewpoints.”
The AWA stands with our Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, scholars, and colleagues in objecting to the SAA platforming this paper. The AWA supports NAGPRA unequivocally and recognizes that it does not go far enough to address colonialism in archaeology. Additionally, the SAA should not have allowed this paper to have been presented, as 1) the submitted abstract should have alerted the conference committee to a non-inclusive fringe topic, and 2) objections were sent to the Annual Meeting’s Ombudsman earlier in the day with time to cancel the presentation.
The AWA Board of Directors will follow up this brief announcement with a more comprehensive statement in opposition to SAA’s decision to platform anti-NAGPRA and anti-Indigenous activists at their Annual Meeting.
The AWA Board of Directors
AWA Community Groups Announcement!
In order to improve diversity and inclusion within AWA, the AWA Diversity Committee understands that our organization should provide more inclusive spaces to welcome, hear, and appreciate underrepresented voices. It is clear that AWA member benefits, such as networking, fellowship, and mentoring, are not currently shared equally across the membership. Some AWA members who are impacted by racism and/or discrimination do not feel comfortable participating in the AWA. One way that AWA hopes it can enhance the experience of our members is to provide opportunities to host and participate in free, respectful, enjoyable, and productive Community Group conversations and events.
The AWA encourages all members who have felt marginalized or underrepresented in our organization to come together to network, learn, build common ground, collaborate, share resources, grow professionally, give guidance, and support one another. Joining a Community Group is a great way to meet other archaeologists and cultural-minded individuals who share your interests and experiences. The AWA Community Groups are member-led groups that form around shared interests, issues, and backgrounds. Any AWA member can self-select to participate in one or more Community Group(s). The Community Groups will not be asked to do anti-racism, equity, or social justice work for AWA. Rather the AWA hopes to establish these intentional spaces for minorities in archaeology (members and non-members) to use in whatever way is needed.
Examples of Community Groups that might form include:
The list above includes a few examples of possible future Community Groups. If you are interested in forming a Community Group within AWA, please email the Diversity Committee Chair, David Carlson at awadiversity[at]gmail.com. The AWA will support Community Groups by providing a free environment to meet (virtually during COVID-19). Sponsorship of a Community Group can be anonymous – just create an email. Sponsorship of a Community Group does not mean that the sponsor must lead the group. A sponsor can solicit a single leader from interested participants or co-organizers may be identified as the group develops. Each group will decide how and when they meet. The groups can rename based on the affinities of the participants. The AWA Diversity Committee will help the Community Group sponsors/organizers schedule meetings, post information on the AWA website, distribute meeting ground rules and harassment policies, and make announcements to the membership via email, as requested.
Stay tuned if you want to participate in a Community Group, but you do not want to be a sponsor or organizer. You will be able to reach out to the Community Groups via email after they have formed. Look for updates on the AWA website in 2021. You may also reach out to the Diversity Committee Chair, David Carlson at awadiversity[at]gmail.com for additional information.
*The term LatinX is used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina. While LatinX is considered to be more gender inclusive, the AWA recognizes that it may not be the preferred term for all people and that no single term adequately represents every one of Latin American and Mexican origin or descent
Dear AWA members,
Below is information on a grant for developing site histories for the Nisqually Tribe, under a NPS grant they are administering:
The grant is for developing detailed site histories (ethnographic site histories) for up to 3 properties that the Nisqually community finds important. One of the properties is the Sequalitchew Creek area of Dupont, WA. One quick look on WISAARD shows the importance of Sequalitchew to the Nisqually people.
At this point we are only looking for qualifications packets for our review. Once a contractor is selected we will discuss the detail we can achieve for the grant funding we have.
The request for qualifications has been attached below.
Dear Association for Washington Archaeology,
Like you, we have witnessed the violence and oppression directed against Black lives, particularly those committed by police. These events lay bare a traumatic reality that has long haunted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), including many of our colleagues. The horror of this violence is compounded by police efforts to criminalize and brutalize protestors who are challenging institutional racism. Fighting to change unjust systems should not be a crime.
The Association for Washington Archaeology (AWA) Board of Directors stands in solidarity with the communities impacted by and protesting this violence. We join a number of our colleagues in denouncing the systemic racism directed at Black Americans in the United States. We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, Walter Scott, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Charleena Lyles, Said Joquin, and so many others killed. We acknowledge that these murders are not isolated incidents, but are parts of a pattern of oppression, violence, and de-legitimization woven throughout the history of the United States. We decry the failure and unwillingness of our institutions to address the violence and abuse that Black members of our communities face. We recognize that this harm manifests in our government, businesses, neighborhoods, and communities, all of which is disproportionately compounded by the very pandemic now sweeping the nation.
Our own discipline was formed in the context of white supremacy, as part of European and Euro-American colonialism, imperialism, and expansion. Archaeologists, most of whom have built their careers studying the heritage of non-white and Indigenous peoples, have both benefited from and perpetuated these structures of oppression and inequality. Our discipline was built upon the idea that excavating sacred sites and putting artifacts in museums far from descendant communities was important for history and science. That these issues are not merely historical, but haunt and affect our present, is especially obvious when considering archaeology’s traditional treatment of human remains. The resistance to following human burial laws after finding The Ancient One (Kennewick Man) and the mishandling of initial studies at the African Burial Ground in NYC, are but two of the numerous cases of our discipline’s failure to grapple with our colonial and racist legacy. That our community remains situated within the colonial system it emerged from and sustains was made clear at Tse-whit-zen.
Archaeology has the potential to be a transformative discipline that can challenge hegemonic narratives of the past and create spaces for collaboration and healing. However, we recognize that doing so requires reflecting on our own privilege and capacity to act. We must listen, we must learn, and we must act in both our personal and professional lives, so that we can move archaeology towards equity and justice. The AWA Board of Directors calls on our members and all archaeologists in Washington State and beyond to join us in working towards dismantling racism and white supremacy, both in archaeology and in our communities.
To such an end, we, the AWA Board of Directors, commit to the following:
1. We commit to funding and sustaining yearly scholarship(s) to financially support BIPOC individuals conducting research related to Washington State archaeology and heritage, attending a Washington State school for archaeology- or heritage-related studies, or attending an archaeology field school in Washington State. Opportunities to donate to BIPOC scholarship funds will be available to all members.
2. We commit to diversifying the AWA Board of Directors and the general membership. We recognize that AWA provides opportunities for networking, fellowship, and the mentoring of young professionals, scholars, and students. We also understand, as a white-majority organization, that AWA is not currently a comfortable place for people who are impacted by racism. So, we commit to:
We also encourage our fellow archaeologists, museum professionals, faculty, and other community members to actively recruit and adequately support BIPOC students, staff, faculty, and community members in their individual organizations.
3. We commit to sponsoring facilitated anti-racism trainings and/or workshops, and encouraging Washington State archaeologists and heritage professionals to attend them, so that we might all become more knowledgeable and capable of making the changes needed in our communities. Trainings/workshops will also address preventing and reporting harassment and bystander intervention.
4. We commit to amplifying the voices of AWA community members who are working for social and racial justice. This includes, but is not limited to, highlighting archaeological and non-archaeological resources on anti-racism. We ask our professional and academic members to amplify the voices of BIPOC individuals who have deep knowledge of our region by including their perspectives in publications, reports, and presentations.
5. We commit to financially supporting cultural heritage-related causes and organizations that operate in Washington State to address racism and promote anti-racism. Organizations dedicated to social justice work that support BIPOC individuals in archaeology and heritage studies will be identified by AWA to encourage members to donate and support. These organizations include, but are not limited to, Archaeology in the Community, the Wing Luke Museum, and the Northwest African American Museum. We also encourage our members to donate to local and national organizations dedicated to addressing racism .
6. We commit to educating ourselves on racism, anti-Blackness, settler colonialism, and white supremacy in the United States. Members will be provided with opportunities to learn about the effect of archaeology and anthropology on BIPOC in Washington State, as well as the wider Pacific Northwest, while seeking to understand how the history of the discipline still impacts people today.
The AWA Board of Directors asks our members to self-educate and participate in training opportunities that will be organized and advertised by AWA. In addition, AWA encourages local archaeology faculty and professionals to identify and incorporate BIPOC scholarship into their courses and bibliographies. Lastly, we ask the membership to consider making the knowledge you produce more easily accessible as a community resource.
7. We commit to treating this as a living document, which we will revisit and revise with new input and concerns as needed and at least once per year.
The AWA Board of Directors would like to acknowledge the statements put out by Michigan State University and Wayne State University Departments of Anthropology, as well as that of the Association of Black Anthropologists, all of which have been particularly inspirational to this document.
For non-archaeological causes, consider donating to support protesters (e.g. the Northwest Community Bail Fund, which operates in King and Snohomish Counties) or legal funds (e.g. NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund). You might also search for Mutual Aid, legal defense funding, and COVID-19 relief networks in your local area!
AWA Crisis Relief Fund
In response to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the Association for Washington Archaeology (AWA) has established a Crisis Relief Fund. The AWA Crisis Relief Fund will provide one-time financial assistance to recently-unemployed Archaeological Technicians and unemployed recent graduates of Archaeology and Archaeology-Related Graduate Programs who meet all application criteria.
AWA would like to thank the generous donors who have made it possible to assist those in need who are working in or just entering our profession. We deeply appreciate their help as we work together to assist some of the most vulnerable in our community. If you wish to donate, or donate again, please see the end of this announcement!
AWA extends to each and every one of you our very best wishes for your continued health and safety. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the Crisis Relief Fund or how to apply. We look forward to assisting our great community!
Apply for Crisis Relief Fund Financial Assistance
To apply for one-time financial assistance from the AWA Crisis Relief Fund, please download and complete the application below (PDF or Docx). Email it to email@example.com with the words "COVID Relief Application" in the subject line.
In order to be considered, you must meet the stated criteria in the application. Only applications meeting the required criteria will be considered by the AWA Crisis Relief Fund Committee. One-time financial assistance to those meeting the criteria will be made on a first-come, first-served basis until the relief fund is exhausted.
Donate to the Crisis Relief Fund!
Please join the Association for Washington Archaeology (AWA) in a fundraiser supporting our new Crisis Relief Fund. Our goal is to provide one-time financial assistance to Archaeological Technicians and recent graduates of Archaeology and Archaeology-Related Graduate Programs in Washington State who find themselves unemployed since March 1, 2020, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Supporting this community is in the interest of AWA’s mission statement “to encourage the appreciation, protection, and preservation of the archaeological resources of Washington State…” (Bylaws of the AWA, Section II. Article B).
To donate online, please click on the "Donate" button below. To donate by check, please email the AWA Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AWA News Blog Is Now Live!
Welcome to the AWA News Blog! This page will routinely update with news from the AWA, including job and funding opportunities, service projects, and organizational updates.
This first post is just a test of our blog. Stay tuned for more updates!