Building bridges through public anthropology in the Haudenosaunee homeland

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In this chapter, we discuss how, as a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist, we have moved toward a vision of public anthropology with partnerships of many kinds, centrally involving the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) in the Finger Lakes region of central New York. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is comprised of six nations, which include the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. Jack excavates contact and precontact Cayuga village sites, while Brooke has a special interest in Native health and healing. Our research and activism are conducted in a region with intense social and political complexity. It includes the Cayuga Indian Land Claim, a depressed state economy and collapsing tax base, heavy pressure from the governor for Native groups to take casinos, and an anti-Indian land claim group (called Upstate Citizens for Equality, or UCE). Our work involves a dynamic, evolving communication, and collaboration with local Native communities of the Haudenosaunee. It is a multifaceted approach that also includes joint public presentations, visiting secondary schools, acting as liaisons for Native art and artifact exhibits, and attending conferences and organizations (such as Cultural Survival) with Native colleagues. Rather than developing a specific model for partnership with Native people in social activism and research, our public anthropology approach developed in response to one particular local ethnopolitical situation. The Cayugas are unique among the six Haudenosaunee nations because they were the only ones left without land after the tumult of the Revolutionary War and a series of dubious treaties and land sales. Much of our work has focused on a community organization called Strengthening Haudenosaunee American Relations through Education (SHARE) that we helped to develop. Since 2001, SHARE operated a 70-acre organic farm and house that was transferred to the Haudenosaunee in December 2005 as part of a land reparations plan we formulated to help them reestablish a presence in their ancestral homeland. Chief William Jacobs stated, "This is a wonderful thing for our people. It gives us a base and a place to call home where we can reestablish ourselves as Cayuga people" (Carter, 2005: 1A). The many collaborative projects run at the SHARE farm included indigenous crop plantings, herb gardens, medicinal workshops, wild plant collecting, a seed saving program, and various public outreach initiatives. In this setting, our identities expanded from simply being a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist to being partners in a variety of public projects with Native and non-Native people in the region. This chapter presents an overview of our public anthropology with specific examples of our Native American community partnerships and the integral role of archaeology in providing a historical foundation for this work.

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Past Meets Present: Archaeologists Partnering with Museum Curators, Teachers, and Community Groups

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