Inheriting the Past: The Making of Arthur C. Parker and Indigenous Archaeology

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University of Arizona Press, Oct 15, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 268 pages
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In recent years, archaeologists and Native American communities have struggled to find common ground even though more than a century ago a man of Seneca descent raised on New YorkŐs Cattaraugus Reservation, Arthur C. Parker, joined the ranks of professional archaeology. Until now, ParkerŐs life and legacy as the first Native American archaeologist have been neither closely studied nor widely recognized. At a time when heated debates about the control of Native American heritage have come to dominate archaeology, ParkerŐs experiences form a singular lens to view the fieldŐs tangled history and current predicaments with Indigenous peoples.

In Inheriting the Past, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh examines ParkerŐs winding career path and asks why it has taken generations for Native peoples to follow in his footsteps. Closely tracing ParkerŐs life through extensive archival research, Colwell-Chanthaphonh explores how Parker crafted a professional identity and negotiated dilemmas arising from questions of privilege, ownership, authorship, and public participation. How Parker, as well as the discipline more broadly, chose to address the conflict between Native American rights and the pursuit of scientific discovery ultimately helped form archaeologyŐs moral community.

ParkerŐs rise in archaeology just as the field was taking shape demonstrates that Native Americans could have found a place in the scholarly pursuit of the past years ago and altered its trajectory. Instead, it has taken more than a century to articulate the promise of an Indigenous archaeologyŃan archaeological practice carried out by, for, and with Native peoples. As the current generation of researchers explores new possibilities of inclusiveness, ParkerŐs struggles and successes serve as a singular reference point to reflect on archaeologyŐs history and its future.

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About the author (2009)

Dr. Colwell-Chanthaphonh received his PhD from Indiana University and his BA from the University of Arizona. Before coming to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, he held fellowships with the Center for Desert Archaeology and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Focusing principally on Native American communities in the American Southwest, Dr. Colwell-Chanthaphonh has undertaken a range of studies to examine the role of historyŃand objects that embody historyŃin politics, science, landscapes, museums, and heritage sites. He has published more than two dozen articles and book chapters, and has authored and edited five books including History is in the Land: Multivocal Tribal Traditions in ArizonaŐs San Pedro Valley which received Honorable Mention in the 2007 Victor Turner Prize juried book competition, and Massacre at Camp Grant: Forgetting and Remembering Apache History which received a 2008 Arizona Book Award in the Political/History category. in anthropology from Indiana University and is now a Project Director at Anthropological Research, LLC.

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