Student Blog — Relationships with responsibilities: the role of the political in archaeological practice.

Teika introduces an important concept of responsibility that we must keep in mind as archaeologists. — Kate

Archaeology is a relationship between the present and the past; we are given a responsibility when we excavate, to tell the story of the material we discover honestly and completely. Archaeologists have and continue to betray this relationship often in CRM (Cultural Resource Management, ie. commercial archaeology) when the desires are to cut costs and approve development activities. As such, it has become clear that in the presence of a profit motive at least some archaeologists cannot be trusted to uphold their professional responsibility. Indigenous monitoring is the framework under which we attempt to keep the CRM industry honest.

At BcGn-28 we have been working alongside monitoring students from Curve Lake, Hiawatha, and Scugog Island First Nations. These students have been diligent, curious, and clearly well suited to the roles that they will take on after they graduate from this course. I will be incredibly lucky when in the future I get to work alongside them again. I came to field school on a leave from my commercial archaeology job; the goal simply to acquire my last half credit and get graduated. The relationships I can cultivate allow me to be both a better archaeologist and a better colleague.

We all have a role to play in the betterment of archaeological practice: as archaeologists by speaking up when we see dishonest activity by our colleagues or bosses, and as the public by making it clear to our politicians that changing the laws to permit the damage of sensitive material or sites are unacceptable. Archaeological material are a non- renewable resource and anti-indigenous political forces benefit from the destruction of this record. We must remember that when you are in conversation with a grandmother it is transformative to have a conversation with her granddaughter. Archaeology is political and must be viewed through this lens else we will as archaeologists perpetuate the systems who desire to harm both the decedents of and those we are in active conversation with.

— Teika Viducis

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