Secrets of the Dead on PBS is a series that shows some strong documentaries from a range of sources, mostly about archaeology or history. The site has a blog with some interesting entries. This month, the blog interviewed Annalisa Heppner, an Indigenous archaeologist who is currently working at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University: “She Digs: Annalisa Heppner”.
It is an interesting interview that covers some of the complexity of working in Alaska in comparison to American archaeology more broadly. I appreciated this comment:
The archaeological community is slowly shifting to think about curatorial responsibilities from the beginning of a project onward. One of the things I like to remind people of is that science has to be replicable and with archaeology, you can’t put everything back and dig it up. Everything that you do when you’re removing an artifact from the ground, you need to understand you have destroyed its context. You have to write it down. You have to put it in a format that other people can access. You have to make sure that whatever you take out, you take care of.
In a lot of Native cultures, my own included, things that come from plants, things that come from animals, even things that are built, all have lives. Objects have lives, and you have to respect them as if they are people.