Archaeology, education and First Nations : two case studies from central Saskatchewan
Musser, Jill E.
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While archaeology has the power to invoke powerful images of the past, those individuals interpreting the past for the public assume significant responsibility with regard to how they present those interpretations. In as much as archaeologists are as much a product of their own social, economic, political and intellectual environments as the "public" to whom they convey these messages, they face the challenge of providing meaningful and accurate interpretations about past cultures and lifeways. Public archaeologists must consider an entirely different set of goals and objectives than individuals doing strictly research based projects. They are required to learn about the public they are educating, and in turn, develop comprehensive, meaningful and enjoyable experiences for the them. Too often members of the public assume that Indiana Jones represents a realistic image of the archaeologist. While it is unfortunate that this image prevails, it is also important to acknowledge that this image is what piques the public's curiosity about archaeological research in the first place. In developing archaeology-based education programs for two archaeology sites in central Saskatchewan, the "public" being educated at one of the sites was primarily Aboriginal. Hence, the involvement of First Nations Elders, as well as participating students became an important part of the component. Similarly, when asked to develop an educational program for a stone circle site, a First Nations Elder requested that research remain non-invasive. In both cases, working closely with these Elders promotes effective dialogue and mutual respect.