Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2007 - 7/31/2007

Funding Totals

$5,000.00 (approved)
$5,000.00 (awarded)

Inheriting the Past: Arthur C. Parker and the Making of Archaeology's Moral Community

FAIN: FT-54956-07

Chip Colwell
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc. (New York, NY 10017-5621)

Arthur C. Parker (1881-1955) was the first Native American professional archaeologist, although his contributions to archaeology have been neither closely studied nor widely recognized. And yet, Parker’s experiences directly inform contemporary debates about the control and representation of Native American archaeological heritages--heated debates over the last two decades about questions of privilege, ownership, authorship, and participation. An interdisciplinary study of archaeology’s historical formation through the prism of Parker’s life, this work illuminates how the difficult choices scholars made more than a century ago built a community of archaeologists which continues to shape the discipline today.

Media Coverage

Books: Inventing Indigenous Archaeology (Review)
Author(s): Sarah Neusius
Publication: Archaeology Magazine
Date: 3/1/2010

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Rebecca M. Marrall
Publication: Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources
Date: 6/1/2010

Book Review (Review)
Author(s): Ashley Atkins
Publication: American Antiquity
Date: 1/1/2011

Associated Products

Inheriting the Past: The Making of Arthur C. Parker and Indigenous Archaeology (Book)
Title: Inheriting the Past: The Making of Arthur C. Parker and Indigenous Archaeology
Author: Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip
Abstract: In recent years, archaeologists and Native American communities have struggled to find common ground even though more than a century ago a man of Seneca descent raised on New York's Cattaraugus Reservation, Arthur C. Parker, joined the ranks of professional archaeology. Until now, Parker's life and legacy as the first Native American archaeologist have been neither closely studied nor widely recognized. At a time when heated debates about the control of Native American heritage have come to dominate archaeology, Parker's experiences form a singular lens to view the field's tangled history and current predicaments with Indigenous peoples. In Inheriting the Past, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh examines Parker's winding career path and asks why it has taken generations for Native peoples to follow in his footsteps. Closely tracing Parker's life through extensive archival research, Colwell-Chanthaphonh explores how Parker crafted a professional identity and negotiated dilemmas arising from questions of privilege, ownership, authorship, and public participation. How Parker, as well as the discipline more broadly, chose to address the conflict between Native American rights and the pursuit of scientific discovery ultimately helped form archaeology's moral community. Parker's rise in archaeology just as the field was taking shape demonstrates that Native Americans could have found a place in the scholarly pursuit of the past years ago and altered its trajectory. Instead, it has taken more than a century to articulate the promise of an Indigenous archaeology—an archaeological practice carried out by, for, and with Native peoples. As the current generation of researchers explores new possibilities of inclusiveness, Parker's struggles and successes serve as a singular reference point to reflect on archaeology's history and its future.
Year: 2009
Primary URL:
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 978-0-8165-265