Paul Racher - President of the Ontario Archaeological Society
There are things we say we believe. But would we be willing to act on them, even if there were a cost?
Consider if we adopted the following principles in consulting archaeology:
1) That archaeologists recognize that they have obligations to any group whose cultural background is the subject of investigation.
2) That Indigenous peoples, as descendant groups, have an inherent right to practice stewardship over their own cultural properties (which is to say archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature).
3) That said stewardship includes the right to maintain, control, protect, develop and have access to said properties.
4) That the deep relationship between indigenous peoples and their cultural properties must be acknowledged and respected regardless of legal ownership.
5) That the informed consent of representatives of an Indigenous or descendant group must be obtained prior to the investigation or management of their cultural properties.
Question 1: Could we do it? In Game Theory, this is an example of "The Prisoner's Dilemma." If everyone were to adhere to such principles, then we could change how archaeology is done in the province. Tomorrow. If only some did, then they would be penalized by the market as business flowed to those firms who did not comply.
Question 2: If we know that this going to happen sooner or later, and we agree with it, why are we waiting to be told to do it?