Sponsored by: Institute for American Indian Studies
The Benefits of Multiple Perspectives for Interpreting Our Local Histories and Cultural Heritage: Decolonizing New England Archaeology and Museum Studies
“Colonialism” has been defined as when one nation seizes control of another nation’s natural resources and peoples for profit. An extreme form is “settler colonialism”, in which the invading nation attempts to permanently settle the territory by eliminating the native population and erasing its culture.1 In recent years, several researchers have branded the colonization of New England colonialism as settler colonialism. 2 “Decolonization” is the act of undoing the effects of colonization. It includes removing the cultural biases of the dominant colonial culture from historical interpretations to allow a more accurate presentation of a country’s past and present history and heritage. Recently, the decolonization movement has begun to remove the confines of colonial histories in the study of indigenous and other once “marginalized peoples”. Acts like NAGPRA, along with efforts to involve members from these communities in all aspects of historical study and programming have created new, more accurate interpretations that utilize archaeology, oral tradition, and written documentation to correctly incorporate native, captive, and emigrant lifeways and thought into the larger history of the Americas. Papers presented in this conference express efforts by museum professionals, archaeologists, historians, and indigenous leadership to decolonize archaeological, historical, and museum studies in the 21st Century.