Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2011


Great Plains Research 21 (2011), p 105


© 2011 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


An outgrowth of demands for ethical treatment and repatriation of their ancestral remains, Indigenous Archaeology (IA) reflects the desire of Indigenous peoples to have a say in how stories of their pasts get told. Too often, Indigenous people claim, archaeologists have discounted oral tradition in favor of scientifically derived histories, histories that may discount or contradict millennia-old beliefs. IA is different, done for them, sometimes by them, and usually in complete collaboration with them. Their questions are central to research agendas and interpretations. IA is controversial because some archaeologists see collaboration as infringement on academic freedom, as movement away from a hardearned, explicitly scientific archaeology, and as essentializing Indigenous people. Nevertheless, IA has rapidly expanded internationally as part of an effort to decolonize archaeology. Many more Indigenous people have become trained as archaeologists, and those who practice IA have carefully pondered the many epistemological issues it raises.

This volume derives from the World Archaeological Congress's 2005 Inter-Congress on "The Uses and Abuses of Archaeology for Indigenous People" held in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The dozen chapters are wide ranging geographically and provide a solid overview of the status of Indigenous archaeology.