Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth day has its beginnings at a UNESCO conference, held in San Francisco in the year 1969. There, it was proposed that we should celebrate peace, the earth, her environment, and foster programs and outreach to promote environmentally-sound development for future generations.

Lets keep it this way! (I feel like I used this image in a separate blog... hmm) 

It was initially proposed that earth day be celebrated on March 21, 1970 as the first day of the spring equinox, and so that came to pass. However, in the United States, this date shifted to April 22 just one month later, because a national programs coordinator held a massive environmental teach-in day, also called earth day. By 1990 this same man, Dennis Hayes, took environmental programming international and Earth Day has been celebrated in many corners of the globe on April 22 ever since.

Although Earth Day is rooted in the natural environment, archaeology--as the study of past human beings--is inextricably linked to the natural environment. So, we've just as many reasons to care about how people have affected our environment over many thousands of years!!

Archaeologists have celebrated Earth Day by highlighting different aspects of human culture:

One way we have connected humans affect on the environment is through recycling and the study of modern trash--Garbology. Archaeologists learn much from studying past human refuse deposits, but we can also learn a lot about human behavior from studying modern trash deposits. Events like this one at the Natural History Museum in D.C. are common.

City Landfill, a modern midden!

Another popular way to connect the public with Native history and the natural environment is through archaeology tours and hikes. Guided tours allow the archaeologist an opportunity to explain how natives used the environment around them in their everyday lives, while showcasing habitats directly. Here is an example from California where the public can walk a Native Trail on Earth Day.

An archaeologist at the Randell Research Center in Pineland FL highlights how  Natives altered the local environment

Of course, there are numerous other ways that archaeology is celebrated on earth day. Always check up on our website at  to see holiday-themed events! 

Wherever your travels take you this earth day, remember that our natural resources are extremely important, and they're forever tied to our cultural resources as well! 

Text and Images, Ryan Harke. Full Credit to Randell Research Center for Pineland photograph.

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