Public Archaeology: Archaeological Ethnographies
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How can ethnographic methods help communities articulate and enact their own conceptions of heritage management? This and related questions are being explored through an international research project, ‘Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage’. The project includes up to twenty community- based initiatives that incorporate community-based participatory research and ethnographic methods to explore emerging intellectual property-related issues in archaeological contexts; the means by which they are being addressed or resolved; and the broader implications of these issues and concerns. We discuss three examples that use ethnography to (a) articulate local or customary laws and principles of archaeological heritage management among a First Nations group in British Columbia; (b) assemble knowledge related to land/sea use and cultural practices of the Moriori people of Rekohu (Chatham Islands) for their use in future land and heritage manage- ment policies; and (c) aid a tribal cultural centre in Michigan in crafting co-management strategies to protect spiritual traditions associated with a rock art site on state property. Such situations call for participatory methods that place control over the design, process, products, and interpretation of ‘archaeology’ in the hands of cultural descendants. We hope that these examples of community-based conceptions of archaeological heritage management, facilitated through ethnographic methods and participatory approaches, will increase awareness of the value of these and other alternative approaches and the need to share them widely.