#43 Change and Outreach

The field of Cultural Resource Management is responsible for most of the archaeological discoveries in this country.  Did you know that?  Does anyone know that?  Absolutely everyone that I talk to about what I do, that is not in the business, has no idea what CRM is.  Why is that?  Is it our fault?  Is it our client’s fault?  I don’t know.

What I do know is that something has got to give.  The public has a right to know about THEIR cultural resources so they can appreciate them the way we do.  I love this country and it’s rich history but all most people ever learn about it is what gets distilled into text books and from soundbites on cable TV.

How can we change this?  I don’t know that either.  As CRM professionals we are highly censored as to what we can say.  We sign confidentiality agreements that are intended to protect the client, the company, and the resources, so we can’t really say anything.  Trust me on this.  I’ve made several posts on this blog that have had to be removed or heavily edited because someone thought I crossed a line.  In all honesty I thought I had removed any information that could be linked to a client, my company, or even me, for that matter.  It doesn’t matter.  You can’t talk about work.  No matter what.  I understand why the rules are in place and I don’t fault company leaders for enforcing them.  It is a situation that they have been put in by tradition and by their clients.

There are reports and papers published about some cultural resources, that’s true.  However, the bulk of the finds never see the light of day and sit, “protected” in a BLM and/or SHPO file cabinet.  Is there a way that an abstract of the report, striking out location and client information, can be put online for anyone to see?  Is that a bad idea?  I don’t think so.

What can we do to bring archaeological discoveries to the people that they belong to?  We are not special.  We should’t hold onto the information and guard it with our lives.  What we find belongs to the American people and they have a right to know about it.

Any suggestions?

Comment here so everyone can participate in the discussion.

Written in frustration.


2008  The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (iPad App), Oxford University Press, 2nd ed.   Developed by Handmark, Inc.


"Archaeological Resource Management (ARM): A branch of archaeology, also known as public archaeology, that is concerned with the identification, mapping, recording, assessment, evaluation, and documentation of archaeological sites and objects at all scales in order to assist in their conservation, protection, preservation, presentation, and exploitation through effective mitigation strategies, excavation, and nondestructive study.  Major aspects of this work involve: the administration of legislation that bears on archaeological remains; informing the decision-making process as it applies to the potential impacts of development on archaeological remains; issuing permits and licenses; monitoring and managing contract archaeology; the definition and application of research policies; and the development of public education programs.  In the USA and Australia, where it also covers the management of the contemporary material culture of the indigenous populations, this branch of archaeology is often referred to as cultural resource management (CRM)."

#42 The Crazy Ones


 “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.

The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers,

The round pegs in the square holes,

The ones who see things differently.

They are not fond of rules and

They have no respect for the status quo.

You can quote them,

Disagree with them,

Glorify or Vilify them.

But the only thing you can’t do,

Is ignore them

Because they change things.

They push the human race forward.

And while some may see them as,

The Crazy Ones

We see genius.

Because the people who think they are crazy enough

To think they can change the world,

Are the ones who do.”


-From an un-aired Apple commercial

#1 Blogging Archaeology

So I'm at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento and I'm listening to some interesting people give interesting papers but nothing is really blowing my socks off.  On Saturday afternoon, all of that changed.  I attended the "Blogging Archaeology" symposium and my outlook on archaeology and CRM instantly changed.  My goal has always been career oriented with the targeted path going from field tech to crew chief to field supervisor (or project archaeologist or whatever your region calls the lowest level of managing and writing) to principle investigator and/or company owner.  Now, however, I feel that it is equally important that I devote a large portion of my time to telling the public about the field I've chosen to spend the rest of my life in.

I've always enjoyed telling anyone that would listen about my love and passion for my job.  Even when I've had less-than-enjoyable bosses I've still gone home at the end of the day and said, "I did something good today."  I like that feeling and I wish everyone could experience it in their jobs.  Those of us that do feel that way should tell people about it and get others excited.  Enthusiasm is contagious.

We shouldn't stop at just boasting of our love for archaeology. No.  In fact, we should be talking about not only why we do what we do but how we do what we do and why it is important.  A few words from a presenter come to mind.  He commented that he would like to meet someone that saw archaeologists at work in the field, digging holes, looked it up online, and found a blog and all the answers to their questions.  I like that.

Often, the projects that we work on affect the public in various ways.  Even a gold mine on private land in nowhere Nevada affects the public.  They have a right to know, not where the project is, but what we are doing and what our findings are telling us about the history and prehistory of the area.  

So, what is this blog going to be about?  Well, mostly archaeology.  Specifically CRM archaeology.  I'll relate my experiences in the field regarding our methods and what we are finding.  I welcome all comments and suggestions.  I'll also talk about general science occaisionally, as well as astronomy and skepticism.  I'm a member of the Reno Skeptics and really enjoy talking to people about critical thinking and rational thought.

OK.  Let's see if I can keep this going.  Together we can make a change for the better!