Dispatches from the AIA - May 2016
May 1, 2016
The AIA’s 2016 Award for Best Practices in Site Preservation was presented to the Vernon Township Historical Society in acknowledgment of the excellent work the organization has done—and continues to do—as steward of the Black Creek Indian Site in Vernon, New Jersey.
For over a decade, members of the Vernon Township Historical Society have worked with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey to preserve, protect, and promote the Black Creek Site. Home to some of the area’s earliest residents, the site includes more than 6,000 artifacts representing 10,000 years of occupation.
The Society’s interpretive plan and cultural resource program involve close collaboration with local residents and state and national officials. The program includes regular monitoring and maintenance, the installation of explanatory signage, and the creation of a walking path through the site. It also includes education and outreach initiatives targeting school groups, community organizations, and the public. Thousands of students have benefited from the Society’s education programs about the Lenape Indians and Black Creek through lesson plans integrated into local school curricula, guided tours, and hands-on learning opportunities.
Working with the Lenape and other local residents, the Society successfully nominated the Black Creek Site for inclusion in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. As steward of the site, the Society is taking a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to preserving a wonderful and important resource for future generations. The Society’s interpretive plan provides an aspirational model for other site stewards and represents the best practices that the AIA promotes through its Site Preservation Program— efforts that combine sustainable heritage preservation with local community involvement.
The AIA presented the 2016 Conservation and Heritage Management Award to the City of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services and the archaeological and cultural heritage consulting firm ASI. The two groups were recognized for their work in developing and implementing an exemplary archaeological management plan for the City of Toronto.
The plan defines the process by which sites should be identified, evaluated, and managed. While addressing the needs of the city’s known archaeological resources, the plan also incorporates predictive models to identify upcoming developments that could impact archaeological sites and should therefore be subject to archaeological assessment. The plan is a visionary archaeological management practice that exceeds legislative requirements and was developed and implemented at a scale unseen in other jurisdictions. The City of Toronto has recognized the importance of this model and is particularly rigorous in its application.
In addition to recommendations for identifying and mitigating the impact to sites, the plan also includes provisions for interpretation and commemoration. The City of Toronto requires developers to fund and maintain permanent displays related to the heritage and archaeology discovered on their properties. This interpretative display initiative is, again, not a legal requirement of the province of Ontario, but an independent requisite of the city to engage the public in the appreciation of heritage.
Aspects of the City of Toronto’s archaeological management plan have been used as models for other municipalities in Ontario. The AIA hopes that this successful marriage of protecting the old while embracing the new inspires more municipalities to consider and preserve their archaeological heritage as they plan for the future.
On January 9, 2016, the AIA held its second conference for heritage educators. The daylong event built on the success and momentum of last year’s conference in New Orleans. The 2016 program focused on creating a statement of ethics for heritage education and on the professionalization of outreach efforts.
The themes for the 2016 meeting were generated from conversations held at the New Orleans meeting and the online discussions that followed. Educators commented on the need for an ethics statement that could be distributed to people conducting and planning heritage education activities, and this year’s conference attendees worked together to draft such a statement. It is currently being circulated for review and comments and will soon be available on the AIA website.
The idea of professionalizing heritage education, especially in terms of generating more research and publication, was also first mentioned at the 2015 meeting. In response to a specific call for publications, a group of conference attendees submitted a proposal for a special issue on evaluating heritage education to Advances in Archaeological Practice. The proposal was accepted, and the issue will be available by late 2016. This year’s attendees discussed strategies for producing more well-researched and data-driven reports and essays on heritage education and outreach programs for inclusion in archaeological (and educational) publications.
A number of educators at the San Francisco meeting disclosed that they had heeded last year’s call to implement more rigorous evaluation and assessment of their programs. These efforts have produced measureable results that will be useful for comparative studies. Further, 2016 attendees plan to conduct coordinated evaluations of International Archaeology Day 2016 events. Educators agreed that by using similar evaluation strategies, their data will be easier to compare across programs. Participants brainstormed strategies for evaluating different types of education programs, and in the coming months, a list of these strategies will be circulated.
Conference attendees also identified long- and short-term goals for heritage education. Short-term goals include the creation, distribution, and wide adoption of the ethics statement on heritage education, increased communication within the heritage education community, especially through the AIA’s Outreach and Education Google Group, compilation of a list of relevant publications, providing more professional development opportunities, producing more articles for archaeology and education journals, coordinating efforts to evaluate International Archaeology Day events, and planning a follow-up meeting at the AIA’s 2017 Annual Meeting in Toronto ( January 5–8). Long-term goals include raising visibility and building legitimacy for heritage education within the academic community and archaeological organizations, reiterating and formalizing the idea that education extends beyond K–12, and considering the possibility of holding a stand-alone heritage education conference.
Conference participants left San Francisco reenergized, focused, and excited about the momentum that heritage education is gaining. We look forward to hearing updates about progress made and to another productive meeting in Toronto.
Each year, the AIA holds an awards ceremony at the AIA-SCS Joint Annual Meeting to recognize important contributions that AIA members and others have made to the discipline and the Institute. The AIA is pleased to announce the 2016 award winners:
Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement: Malcolm Bell III, University of Virginia
Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions: Melinda Zeder, Smithsonian Institution
Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award: Brian Heidtke
James R. Wiseman Book Award: Thomas F. Tartaron, Maritime Networks in the Mycenaean World (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Felicia A. Holton Book Award: Patrick Vinton Kirch, A Shark Going Inland Is My Chief: The Island Civilization of Ancient Hawai’i (University of California Press, 2012)
Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award: Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, Brandeis University
Conservation and Heritage Management Award: City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services and archaeological and cultural heritage consultancy ASI
Best Practices in Site Preservation Award: Vernon Township Historical Society, Vernon, New Jersey
Outstanding Public Service: Cindy Ho, SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone
Outstanding Work in Digital Archaeology Award: Open Context
Graduate Student Paper Award: Rachel Kulick, University of Toronto, and Johanna Boyer, University of Missouri, Columbia