Friday, March 4, 2016

This post started as a recap of this week's 1st Annual Archaeology Advocacy Day, which I will get to in a minute, but I want to first voice my concern over archaeology advocacy in general. I went looking for Advocacy this morning, here's what I found out.

Figure 1. National and State organizations that feature Advocacy tab on their home page (highlighted in red).

Figure 2. Professional and avocational organizations I belong to where advocacy is not present on their homepage.

Why is it that public libraries, museums, and preservation organizations are so much better at advocacy? Advocacy is not buried or hidden on their pages, but front and center. Where have all the archaeology advocacy tabs gone? It could be I misunderstand the mission of these societies, but as a professional these are the places I go to get news and direction. I am a member of all the organizations in Figure 2, therefore I can and should take a more active role. If you are also members of heritage organizations that do not feature advocacy on their homepage, especially where stewardship is a part of their code of ethics, please ask the board to include an Advocacy tab on their homepage to help centralize information and increase training opportunities.

The SAA under "Pages for the Public" lists links to preservation and protection organizations. You can also find information on the FPAN website related to recent bills and archaeology issues (Protection of Artifacts on State Lands). Finally, consider this: supporters of the recent Isolated Finds push have a advocacy tab on their homepage.

Now on to recap celebration of Archaeology Advocacy Day, which was a very positive step in this direction...

March 1 marked the official kick off for Florida Archaeology Month (FAM) 2016. Every year archaeologists and heritage educators archaeologists across the state stage individual events, set up festival tables, and speak to audiences of all ages to promote our state's buried past. This year we did something different; we launched FAM in the Rotunda at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. The Advocacy Day allowed us to plan a day to get together with Legislators and meet with the public one on one.

Partner organizations from around the state participated, including:
Florida Anthropological Society
FAS local chapter Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee
Florida Archaeological Council
Southeast Volusia Historical Society and New Smyrna Museum of History
Florida State University
University of West Florida
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Archaeology Maritime Program
 St. Augustine Archaeology Association
Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN)

Many of us also wear other hats, such as myself who also represents my employer Flagler College,
Project Archaeology, and Society for Historical Archaeology.

Archaeology in Action!: views from the Rotunda at the Capitol in Tallahassee March 1
(photo credit: Nigel Rudolph, FPAN-Central Facebook page)

This year is also special as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. In 1966 archaeology advocacy was in full force as that particular legislation required a major and targeted plan to be adopted across all 50 states. And one year later Florida passed it's own Historical Resources statute (Chapter 267) to protect state-owned lands. People fought hard to get these landmark bills passed. And yet here we in 2016 with challenges to both laws reinforcing the notion: preservation and protection takes constant education.

House Representative Lake Ray stopped by to meet FPAN staff and support Florida heritage.

March is therefore the best time of year to get involved in upping your archaeology advocacy game. To advocate for archaeology means to stand up for the preservation and protection of archaeological sites. You can add your voice as an advocate to descendant communities, or speak in support of preserving sites for those cultures that can no longer advocate for themselves. Do attend as many archaeology month events as you can, but also see it as an opportunity to get more involved.

Here are 5 ways to take your commitment to preserving Florida's buried past further this month:

1. Did you know heritage tourism in Florida is a 6 billion dollar industry? Preservation is of measurable economic benefit to Florida. Write to your local elected officials, let them know their votes for preservation and protection of cultural resources is also a vote for the state's economic development. Send them this publication that shows the economic impact of preservation in our state. Ask them to continue to support the Historic Preservation Grants Program and be aware of these grants-in-aid projects in your community.

2. Visit a historical site and post it on social media, tag it with #FAM2016. The safest sites are those visited by the public, especially historic cemeteries and remote cultural parks. Make a point to get out there, explore, and share your experience with others.

3. You can attend a city or county commission meeting and give your 3 minutes public comment time in support of cultural resources. Let them know it is Florida Archaeology Month if they are not yet aware. Request posters and bookmarks from FAS or FPAN to take to the meeting for your elected officials. If you like a project recently undertaken by the city, let them know their attention to cultural resources was appreciated. If there is a site out in the county you are concerned about, let your elected officials know. They work for you and they are especially interested in your concerns.

4. Ask your local libraries and public schools to support heritage months, such as Black History Month, Women's History Month, and of course Florida Archaeology Month. These are opportunities to raise the level of awareness in your community in the places the people around you visit frequently.

5. Donate to the cause. The Archaeological Conservancy is also active in Florida and accepts donations. Funds to the Conservancy goes to purchasing sites in danger. Just last year the Conservancy purchased the Windover site in Brevard County. Or donate to your local FAS chapter. The St. Augustine Archaeology Association, for example, funds historical markers at a archaeological sites across the city. Today at 5:30 as they unveil their latest marker downtown on the south west side of the Bridge of Lions for the historic boat basin. Plus a donation doesn't have to be money, your time is also valuable. The Florida Anthropological Society is a great place to start by joining as a member. You can also enlist as a volunteer for Community Support Organizations across the state that support Florida State Parks or individual historic sites in your community.

Volunteers attend State Site Stewardship training by State Archaeologists Mary Glowacki at Sams House, Merritt Island. 
In sum, enjoy the March spectacle of Florida Archaeology Month, but also see it as an opportunity to take your passion for Florida archaeology to another level. The state's cultural resources need your help and attention. Pledge today an act of advocacy that will help preserve sites into the future.

For more information check out the following links:

Find Your Elected Officials- website makes it easy to identify and contact your State House Member, State Senate Member, US Congressional Member, and US Senators

Making Archaeology Public Project - videos to commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (MAPP)

Archaeological Conservancy- consider saving sites by donating to their purchase and perpetual protection

Florida Anthropological Society- become a member!

Archaeology Institute of America Advocacy Page - featuring news and initiatives from around the world

Florida Public Library Association - Advocacy Archive

Florida Association of Museums - Advocacy page

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation - Advocacy page

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff except where noted

Figure 1: screen caps from the following organizations: Public Library Association; American Alliance of Museums; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Florida Association of Museums; Florida Library Association; Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Figure 2: screen caps from the following organizations: Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeological Council.

Florida Archaeology Month Poster:  Florida Anthropological Society, and supported by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. Additional sponsors for 2015 include the Florida Archaeological Council, Florida Public Archaeology Network, state and local museums, historical commissions, libraries, and public and private school systems. For more information see the FAM website.
Advocacy Day photos by Nigel Rudolf, FPAN Central Staff.

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