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The Archaeological Resources Protection Act: A Collaborative Effort

Photo credit: Tyrel Iron Eyes

The Archaeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA) protects archaeological resources on Tribal and federal lands and requires that archaeologists conduct a damage assessment. In order to conduct a damage assessment, land managers, archaeologists, and law enforcement collaborate to assess the damage. During this process, the vandalism or damage is recorded, mapped, and described in a report to use as evidence in the courtroom. 

Yet, not all land managers, archaeologists, or law enforcement know about ARPA or how to conduct a damage assessment. Our team seeks to fill this gap and train professionals on how to properly assess archaeological resource crimes.

In late March, we brought together archaeologists, Tribal cultural resource experts,  Tribal rangers, and federal investigators for an ARPA training in Show Low, Arizona. We learned about ARPA, conducting damage assessments, and the skills needed to process archaeological resource crimes such as evidence collection, forensics, and site surveillance. 

A group of archaeologists, rangers, and foresters sit in a classroom, watching a presentation.

One of the course favorites is the mock APRA crime scene in which participants process and record archaeological damage in a field exercise (pictured below). One of the goals of Save History is to respond to archaeological resource crimes and investigate them effectively. With more professionals trained in ARPA, we hope to achieve this goal and build capacity for others to achieve it as well. 

Four people stand near a sifting screen next to a mock ARPA crime scene in the forest.

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