If it’s true, then it is a disgrace and a disaster for everyone. Reports are appearing that Caltrans destroyed an ancient site of the Pomo Indian village while they were building a freeway bypass around the northern California town of Willits. Rumors have it that they made a “mapping error”. It is difficult not to share the anger of modern descendants of the people who lived there. Wouldn’t you be angry if someone destroyed an ancestral home of yours? I know that I would.
The interface of the ancient world and the modern is at the heart of this confrontation. Many archaeologists are fully aware of their ethical and professional responsibilities and many work closely with descendent communities not only here in California, but also in other parts of the world, like Australia and South Africa, where similar attention is required to avoid the destruction of a people’s past.
Indigenous rights and the often (always?) contentious coming together of past and present are at the core of a rigorous, modern and informed study of archaeology. That is how we teach the subject here at SF State. Do you want to join the debate? Join us. Check out our website about the SFSU MA in Anthropology or email us: AnthroMA@sfsu.edu.
Link: More trouble for embattled Caltrans project: A Native American tribe is accusing Caltrans of gross negligence for its handling of Indian archaeological sites in Willits. (http://abc7news.com/traffic/more-trouble-for-embattled-caltrans-project/...)