Returning the Gift: Scientific Research and Heritage Preservation

Author(s): Howard Higgins

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Collaborative and Community-Based Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In 1974-76 I conducted ethnoarchaeological research among the Tahltan Indians of northwestern British Columbia. Like many native groups, from the early 1800’s into the 1940’s, the Tahltan were repeatedly decimated by epidemics. These killed disproportionately- with many old and very young dying. The loss of the elder women (the "Grandmothers") meant the concurrent loss of much of the Tahltan culture. The Grandmothers were the repositories of traditional wisdom. Persons would come to them for guidance in proper conduct and appropriate actions when there were internal controversies.

My research was problem driven, focused on concepts of space, and did not address Tahltan heritage. However, recently the Tahltan have become concerned with loss of their unique culture. They have begun examining their heritage so as to regain some aspects and preserve all of it that they can. As part of this, my primary research documents have been used as a source of information. This paper examines the collection of data useful in the future to local indigenous people. This approach is contrasted with the problem driven scientific approach, the current hallmark of the anthropological professions. The paper concludes with a discussion of the issues involved in such heritage driven data collection.

Cite this Record

Returning the Gift: Scientific Research and Heritage Preservation. Howard Higgins. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450609)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -141.504; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -51.68; max lat: 73.328 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22975