Co-Interpreting the Past – Shaping the Present, Building the Future

Author(s): Ieva Paberzyte

Year: 2017


Interest in the past brings archaeologists and Indigenous people together. Archaeologists reveal the past through material remains, while Indigenous people remember the past and keep it alive through stories. Often the past for archaeologists is an object of scientific curiosity, while for Indigenous people storytelling is an essential part of their identity. Stories provide wisdom and strength to deal with challenges in the present and the future.

Joint efforts of archaeologists and Indigenous communities, and dialogues between different knowledge systems, can bring archaeology beyond the satisfaction of disciplinary curiosity: engaging possible future archaeologists who will bring Indigenous perspectives to the discipline and provide results that can be a powerful tool for communities in the face of economic development projects.

I will provide examples from collaborative work with the members of Cree Nation of Wemindji to show how different knowledges can be combined to understand the past and how local community’s role is essential to archaeological research. Who are better experts of the area if not the people who live on that land? Multiple narratives told through different perspectives are a valuable source of diversity for interpretation of the past, which in turn can empower younger generations and direct the future.

Cite this Record

Co-Interpreting the Past – Shaping the Present, Building the Future. Ieva Paberzyte. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431732)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16016