Indigenous archeology by Robert McGhee

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Anthropology ・APA ・1 Sources

For an archaeologist research to develop, the archaeologist should work closely with the inhabitant of the location under research. This is because indigenous archaeology is a developing process, as stated by Robert McGhee in his article on anthropological research. The knowledge of an archaeologist about the native people will reduce disputes . Thereby leading to a better research work.

However, the article published by McGhee faced a lot of disputes because he didn't make partnerships with the people present in the community. This is why Vine Deloria was prefered because his book involved the people in the community. During a period in the 1900 before Vine Deloria writing, Arthur C.

Parker suggested that inhabitant of America practiced archaeology professionally by being involved in the research and having their condition and demands met. This move was encouraged by United States legislation, for example, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) that allowed people of the community to participate in research.

Through the Joe Watkins publication of indigenous Archaeology, the book explained more on the reason to consider the indigenous archaeology based on the right, political and social approach. Thereafter the inhabitants were much involved in research.

For archaeologist to establish effective indigenous archaeology research there should be a protocol that respects the understanding, ethics and sensibilities of the community. Indigenous archaeology gives inhabitants high priority since they are the main participant in the research.

American Antiquity

Though the indigenous people have demands, their demands are not considered by archaeologist since they are the one controlling the research resources. This authority makes the archaeologist claim the data collected in the field as their own thus denying the inhabitants the right to specialization in the research. This way of denying has results archaeologist to lack solid information.

Concerning McGhee’s article, he argued that indigenous archaeology is not effective by the participation of the inhabitants, but coming up with ways that change the thinking and attitude of the colonialist concerning the indigenous people. While Chris Gosden in his writing states archaeologist should involve the indigenous people so as to have solid indigenous archaeology.

Inclusion and Essentialism

Through theoretical approach, it has been found that Essentialism is important because it is associated with similar characteristics of the present people to the characteristics of the fossils. But also essentialism approach has its own disadvantage since is not practical. Through the practical research, scholars oppose the political thinking that only the inhabitants can generate indigenous archaeology.

According to Matthew Liebmann, he states that there is no guarantee of the present community to reflect the characteristics of the past fossils but there are slight characteristics of the fossils and the present community.

McGhee reason for criticizing indigenous archaeology approach is not known because he also opposes George Nicholas when he says that archaeologist should consider the terms of the inhabitants. Despite all the arguments by McGee, he also supports archaeologists working for the government in the field of indigenous archaeology.

Indigenous communities and Special Rights

The inner desire of McGhee is for the inhabitants to be given right in participating in indigenous archaeology. Despite the long process for the native people to be given special right in indigenous archaeology, McGhee is fixed-minded to his opinion that inhabitants should be given special right. Although not all the native people have right some of them have right to claim for example Indian tribes in America have been granted the political right.

The ability of democracy to give everyone equal rights.Wylie states that, for the archaeologists to have accurate research, they should collaborate with the indigenous people.

The main target for archaeology which also McGhee supports is to have accurate research through practically bringing together different idea so as to have a better understanding of the indigenous archaeology, thus sharing of power does between inhabitants and archaeologist does not guarantee solid information in the research.

The reason why indigenous people get involved in the research is not based on the biology approach but their connection to the site but their belief, for example, the poetry. For any other fact to be accepted by archaeology it must be true and easy to understand this is made possible through some procedures, for example, physical evidence.

Indigenous People and Perspectives

Arthur C. Parker was the first indigenous person to become a professional archaeologist. For him to be archaeologist was to pay tribute to his Senecca heritage. Despite resistance from the government, Parker‘s research involved excavation of fossils.

Parker’s struggle was to prove that for the indigenous archaeology to be effective is not a must for the inhabitants to be involved in the system. Parker was unsuccessful to conduct effective archaeology since there was a limitation to have different ways of conducting research.

In conclusion, there is no much difference between indigenous archeology and other archaeology.


Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Chip, Thomas J. Ferguson, Dorothy Lippert, Randall H. McGuire, George P. Nicholas, Joe E. Watkins, and Larry J. Zimmerman. "The premise and promise of indigenous archaeology." American Antiquity 75, no. 2 (2010): 228-238

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