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Washington State University
CAS Connect October 2013

Workshop provides unique, new insights to tribal resource management

Students and faculty in the departments of Anthropology and History recently were given an unusual opportunity to learn about the field of cultural resource management directly from people who practice this work within an American Indian tribal context.

Five representatives of the Department of History and Archaeology at the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation conducted a two-day workshop that illuminated some of the unique aspects of the tribes’ approach to cultural resource protection.

bridge over river near hatchery


The first-of-its-kind workshop was offered in Pullman as part of a public awareness effort sponsored by the Walla Walla District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“One of the most important issues they stressed is that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and many other Native groups, have a very long-term view of the world,” said Melissa Goodman Elgar, assistant professor of anthropology. “A bridge repair or river dam is not simply a one- or two-year construction project.”

Rather, she said, the concerns of tribal communities encompass entire ecosystems within their historic understanding of the landscape. This understanding has territorial aspects pertaining to places their groups lived in the past and places associated with tribal legends.

Good habits to undergird new careers

“The workshop provided an incredible opportunity for a new generation of archaeologists and resource managers to establish good habits as we begin our careers,” said Kyle Bocinsky, a doctoral student in anthropology.

Graduate and undergraduate students learned basic skills, such as preparing a budget for a project bid or clearly presenting geographic data on maps. “More importantly, though, the representatives of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation shared their personal experiences of working with federal entities (such as the Army Corps of Engineers or the Bureau of Land Management), and provided real insights to forming professional and mutually understanding relationships with the tribal consultants,” Bocinsky said.

Presenters were Guy Moura, officer of Tribal Historic Preservation and program manager for the History and Archaeology Program; Jackie Cook, repatriation specialist and collections manager; Jon Meyer (MA ’01, Anthropology), tribal archaeologist; Amelia Marchand, resource archaeologist; and Arrow Coyote, project archaeologist.

sign says "Colville Confederated Tribes History Archaeology"American Indian tribes, especially those in the Northwest, are changing the way we look at and address cultural resources, said Mary Collins, director of the Museum of Anthropology at WSU. Providing students the opportunity to learn about tribal perspectives, policies, and practices from members and employees of a large, tribally managed program is “extraordinarily unique. We were thrilled to have the opportunity.”