Does Archaeology need Indigenous Archaeology?

Indigenous archaeology is “archaeology conducted with, for, and by Indigenous people (Nicolas and Andrew, 1997b p.1-18). Since this statement in 1997 by G.P. Nicolas and T.D. Andrews,   the term “Indigenous Archaeology” has been revised several times, with Watkins   (2000) dismissing Nicolas' view with his own proposal that “a truly Indigenous archaeology will never happen until indigenous populations control the quality and quantity of archaeology performed on their homelands” (Watkins, 2000, p1-9) For this discussion, however, I will use the theory of Nicolas and Andrews (1997) and outline why their approach to Indigenous archaeology is of value not only to indigenous people, but also to the discipline of Archaeology.

Firstly, we must understand how changes brought about by the World Archaeological Congress, beginning in 1986 and continuing to the present. Additionally, the effect of NAGPRA starting in 1990 on European institutes of archaeology, academia and museums must also be regarded in terms of material culture and human remains that had been acquired under colonisation and that had either been stored away in boxes somewhere or featured on show in museum displays. How these changes continue to shape current indigenous archaeology is also important to the discussion.

Changes to how indigenous populations were treated within their own countries, beginning with the Aboriginals of Australia and the Native Indians of America, began with the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) in Southampton in 1986. here, indigenous issues where given broad international exposure and since then, subsequent WAC assemblies have worked to highlight and change the way indigenous material culture had been appropriated in the past and will be in the future. In 1989, WAC passed the Vermillion Accord, which advocates “respect for human beings and the recognition that indigenous heritage belongs to its descendants”( W.A.C Code of...