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The American Indian Quarterly 30.3&4 (2006) 388-415

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Archaeology for the Seventh Generation

Angela Cavender Wilson's 2004 essay "Reclaiming Our Humanity: Decolonization and the Recovery of Indigenous Knowledge" provides a useful starting point for considering the role of decolonization in both the academy and in our everyday lives.1 Wilson, as an Indigenous scholar, muses, "For what had I been continually seeking an education if not to transform the world around me and create a place where justice for Indigenous people is more than an illusion?"2 For Wilson, the writings of Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire concerning respectively decolonization and praxis provided, as she says, "the language to articulate [her] own struggle."3 Decolonization as Wilson applies it refers to the process of reversing the colonial structures inherent in both the institutions of colonialism and in the minds of the colonized. In relation to the decolonization of Indigenous peoples, Wilson stresses that Indigenous communities must return to their traditions, reassert these traditional cultural and social values and worldviews into their everyday lives, and begin to rebuild their communities accordingly. But it is through praxis, theoretically informed action, that people are able to decolonize themselves and the structures around them. The concept of praxis situates the power of people, as thinking and knowing individuals, to reflect upon their lives and change them through their actions.

For us, four graduate students from mixed backgrounds, the appeal of decolonization lies in our individualized backgrounds as well as in our own desire to make our research matter. We support the notion that by combining our politics with our scholarship we can make a difference to both ourselves and to the communities with which we work. The practice of decolonization is a way for us to think about the political implications [End Page 388]

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Figure 1
Map showing location of Colony Ross on the California coast. Map was created by the authors.

of our work as archaeologists, to transform our scholarship so that it benefits those whose heritage we study, and to situate ourselves as individuals within a disciplinary framework. Over the course of a month-long field school sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, we—Sara Gonzalez, Darren Modzelewski, Lee Panich, and Tsim Schneider—served as graduate student instructors and each led a crew of four undergraduate students. Archaeological field schools are designed to provide undergraduates with hands-on training in archaeological methods and practice. The 2004 summer field program, the Kashaya [End Page 389] Pomo Interpretive Trail Project (KPITP), is an extension of the Fort Ross Archaeological Project (FRAP). Both are collaborative projects involving UC Berkeley, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Kashaya Pomo tribe. This project is codirected by Kent Lightfoot, professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, and Otis Parrish (Kashaya Pomo), cultural attaché at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Project associates include Roberta Jewett, director of archaeological operations, and Breck Parkman, who coordinates the project for California State Parks. For the past fifteen years FRAP has researched the multi-ethnic colony of Fort Ross and has attempted to study the long-term effects of mercantile colonialism upon the colony's workers and laborers, as well as upon Native Californians within the region.4 The current project attempts to integrate the results of the research and present this information to the broader public through the creation of a walkable interpretive trail within Fort Ross State Historic Park.

The project itself did not self-consciously attempt to decolonize archaeology, but from our vantage point, the Kashaya Pomo Interpretive Trail Project and summer field school contributed to these goals through the operation of the field school, implementation of archaeological methods, and the ongoing process of collaboration with Kashaya Pomo tribal elders and council members. In this article we will address how each aspect of the project has contributed to a form of scholarship that attempts to blend Kashaya ceremony with the science of archaeology. Kashaya...


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