Sunday, September 8, 2013

Two months ago I traveled over 2,500 miles for 10 days in two states. Packing, airports, TSA, car rental, and a grocery store stop later, I arrived in Bozeman, Montana. "Why," you might wonder? Project Archaeology selected me to participate in the annual Project Archaeology Leadership Academy (PALA). Over the course of three days, I would become a Master Teacher of their curriculum and prepare myself to return to Florida and begin training teachers, archaeologists, museum specialists, and anybody else interested. My Mom traveled with me and we decided to make the most of our 2,500 mile trip. We wanted to see Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.
We made it to Yellowstone! I stand at the original entrance to the park.

You might wonder what National Parks in Montana and Wyoming, along with the Project Archaeology Leadership Academy, have to do with Florida archaeology. As we traveled and as I learned at the PALA, a theme stuck with me: stewardship. Project Archaeology designed their curriculum with the aim to provide Enduring Understandings (big ideas that students will remember in five years, in twenty years).  Of the four Enduring Understandings, the last mentions stewardship, reading "Stewardship of archaeological resources is everyone’s responsibility." One of the later lessons introduces Luisa, a young girl who stumbles upon an archaeological site. What should she do? Students, by understanding their responsibilities as stewards of the past, should decide to examine the site from afar, perhaps documenting it, and then reporting it to a park ranger or an archaeologist.
Soda Butte, a geological feature in Yellowstone National Park.

After completing the Leadership Academy, we headed south and entered Yellowstone. On our second day of driving and exploring, we came across the Soda Butte geological feature. As an archaeologist, I wasn't drawn to the butte's geological story. I noticed the sign asking visitors to respect the site. That sounded familiar to me!

SIGNS! This one talks about the mound, its formation and fragile nature.
Like archaeological sites, it's illegal to tamper with the site.

Archaeological signs calling for awareness and respect of archaeological sites and features appear all over Northeast Florida. Those signs of stewardship read very similar to the one at Soda Butte.

Being a steward is an easy job, though also an incredibly important one. It simply calls for all of us to care for the resources we have, whether cultural, natural, geological, or some other sort. Within the past year, FPAN-NE posted an album on Facebook called Signs, Signs, Everywhere Archy Signs. Many of these photos highlighted wording that emphasized protection of sites and encouraged visitors to act as stewards.
A sign greets visitors before they hike the
shell midden. Shells can be artifacts too! 
Venture to Volusia and enjoy natural beauty and
cultural heritage at Hontoon Island State Park.

I love this sign! It mentions ARPA and explains
the perimeters of the Act. Kudos to Pensacola Naval
Air Station.

This sign appeared in the museum at the Crystal
River Archaeological State Park. Its message is as
true on the west coast as it is on the east coast.

How have do you act as a steward of the past? Do you see signs set out to protect cultural resources? If so, share with us what they say and where they are.

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