Staff from the Cultural Resources Department, Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, and Community Development Department received the 2012 Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award in public archaeology for their development and training course of the Cultural Sensitivity Training program.

Cultural Resources Department Receives Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Cultural Resources Department won the 2012 Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Award in Public Archaeology, in the Tribe category.

“We were nominated by Jacobs Engineering for our work in developing the Cultural Sensitivity Training program,” said Angela Garcia, coordinator of NAGRPA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) for the Community.

“Through development of this program, we feel that you have managed to effectively educate people about cultural laws and consultation processes, and by doing so you have actively promoted the protection of cultural resources throughout the state and country,” said Jacobs Engineering Archaeologist Jewel Touchin about why they nominated the Cultural Resources Department for this award. “Yes, we feel your training has reached people nationwide! The Jacobs archaeologists appreciate your work. We have, through our monitoring efforts in the City of Phoenix, noted many times contractors who have said they understood what we were doing and why we were out there because they took your Cultural Sensitivity Training class. Thank you so much for the work you and your staff do! We surely appreciate your efforts.”

The nomination was supported by Laurene Montero, City of Phoenix Archaeologist, who wrote a letter of support and gratitude.

Over the past two years, the Cultural Resources Department has educated more than 10,000 people in its Cultural Sensitivity Training program. The program was developed after an unfortunate incident that happened in the Community when workers stumbled upon artifacts on a jobsite and damage was done to an archaeological site because the workers did not know how to respond to such an occurrence.

“We were told to educate everyone so this wouldn’t happen again,” said Cultural Preservation Program Manager Shane Anton. “That’s when the Cultural Sensitivity Training was developed. It was around before, but it wasn’t utilized how it is today. We provided training on a request basis before, but for the development of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick we provided the training every single day during construction. That is why we have a high number of people who have taken the training. Everyone, including the managers, took the training.”
People have taken the information they learned on to their next jobs and now have a better understanding about the procedures when an archeologist comes to their work site.

“In the past, before the workers were exposed to any of this information, they tended to be hostile to the archeologist that came out, because anytime you have to stop [working], it’s money wasted,” said Garcia. “So they were really worried [that the archaeologist was] going to hold them up and they didn’t understand what they were doing or why they were doing it. They felt that archeology was kind of a victimless crime, causing destruction and damage to their resources.

“Once they started coming through the Cultural Sensitivity Training, they started to become more aware of the fact that real people are affected [when an archaeological site is damaged] and understand the human component to the destruction. It became important to the workers as people who also work off the reservation, because all of those people dispersed across Arizona, and they have actually been really helpful in [maintaining archaeological] discoveries all throughout Arizona, not just within Salt River.”

The goal of the Cultural Resources Department Cultural Sensitivity Training program is to let the people know the who, what, where, when and why of cultural preservation.

“We wanted to let people know that there are communities that are interested in preservation because of the need for cultural continuity, to help the people preserve what’s left of all of their cultural resources. [We’re] trying to give them some practical information that relates to their work,” said Garcia. “It’s not just a class about archaeology, the tribe or about cultural preservation; it has to reach out to them and bring them into our sphere to let them know that we expect them to be a part of our team.”

The Cultural Resources Department is glad to be recognized for this work and wanted to recognize a number of people who have facilitated the Cultural Sensitivity Training.

“Cultural Sensitivity Trainer April Johnson and Cultural Resources Specialist Jacob Butler instruct the training, and we are in partnership with Community Development Staff Program Coordinator Juan Nieto and Planner I Esther Moyah, who assist us as well,” said Anton. “It’s a group effort, but Angela is the one who developed it. I am really proud of her and the overall effort that we do to get the message across.”

As part of Arizona Archaeology Awareness Month each year, the Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission recognizes individuals and/or programs that have contributed time and energy to promoting the protection and preservation of, and education about, Arizona’s non-renewable archaeological resources.

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