PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE - March 2000
William S. Dancey
The Council is 26 years old this year, the new millennium is upon us, and Ohio celebrates its bicentennial in three years. All are causes for celebration and reflection. They are also opportunities to promote archaeology and advance the understanding and appreciation of Ohio's past. The conjunction of these historical events surely is a sign for the Council to think about its future.In the March 1999, issue of the Newsletter, Martha Otto reported on a Board of Directors meeting at which the topic of discussion was the future of the Council. In my term as President I hope to pursue many of the initiatives identified under Martha's direction.
Several are well under way. For example, an internet web site is under construction and should be up and running by the Spring Members meeting. This obviously can be a powerful way of both letting the world know of our existence and educating Ohioans about the archaeology of their state. On another front, the OAC has joined the Dayton Society of Natural History in a joint effort to inaugurate an Archaeology Week to be held June 19-25. You will be hearing more about this from Sandy Yee and Dave Bush.
Another item on Martha's list was preservation advocacy, to "continue and strengthen the Council's efforts to preserve significant cultural resources through public education and direct involvement in the legislative process." If a reason for uniting professionally oriented archaeology groups was required, one need look no further than the impending demise of Ohio's archaeological record. The economic boom of the late twentieth century combined with the revolution in agricultural and construction technology threaten to completely remove or rework Ohio's surface. This means that the archaeological remains of Ohio's early history and prehistory will, very soon, be destroyed forever. Somehow, representatives of the archaeological community, business, industry, development, government, indigenous people, media, and lay people must join together to protect or conserve the legacy of the past without impeding economic growth. I think the Council could play an important role in assessing the seriousness of the problem, educating the citizens of Ohio, and bringing the various constituents together to work toward agreeable solutions.
Membership was an important item on Martha's list. I have asked the Membership Committee to examine the question of whether the current level is reflective of the number of "joiners" in the Ohio archaeological community. Perhaps we are at the peak with around 100 members. On the other hand, perhaps there many potential members in the academic, contract, and avocational worlds who are waiting anxiously to be nominated. If there is an untapped pool of archaeologists who meet our membership criteria, what would it take to get them on board?
One group not represented prominently in the early years of the Council is avocational archaeologists. These are the Ohioans who lack degrees in archaeology but embrace the values of professional archaeology and want to, and often do, conduct professional level field and laboratory investigations under the direction of professional archaeologists. Two well established avocational groups that come to mind are the Central Ohio Valley Archaeological Society (COVAS), and the Toledo Area Aboriginal Research Society (TAARS). Undoubtedly there are others. Some members of these groups already are members of the Council and others are potential members. Setting aside the membership question, however, I think the Council should establish continuing relationships with such avocational groups as COVAS and TAARS for we share similar values and goals.
One item of unfinished business is the conference publication project. As members are acutely aware, we organized six conferences over the last eight years and have published the proceedings of only two of them. Bob Genheimer has nearly completed the Late Prehistoric volume and hopes to have it back from the printer by early summer. As a member of the Education Committee in 1991 when the idea for this project was hatched, I feel a sense of personal responsibility to see it through to completion. To that end I have asked the Education Committee to convene a meeting with the editors of published and unpublished volumes to work out procedures, set timetables, and discuss ways of sharing the workload. My goal is to get the remaining volumes completed during my term.
When the Council was founded 25 years ago everyone who was anyone in Ohio archaeology was a member. Why? Because the mandates of federal archaeological legislation had just hit Ohio and the implications were unknown. All archaeologists in the state wanted to know how their work was affected, or what funding opportunities were presented. Policies and regulations were hotly debated at the semi-annual meetings. Membership rose. There was a certification list, and an Archaeological Services Review Committee that reviewed member's contract reports. As processes and procedures solidified, momentum slowed, and membership began to decline. Certification was abandoned along with the Review Committee. Yet while part of the impetus for the Council's existence was federal preservation law, the purposes of the Council as expressed in the Articles of Incorporation were extremely broad. All members should have a copy of the Articles, and I recommend that you dig them out and reflect upon them. They may inspire ideas for future Council projects.
In closing, let me say that the Council has had a vibrant first 25 years and the potential for growth exists within the scope of the organization as initially conceived. I am pleased to be President of the group as we enter the 21st century. I would also like to challenge members to come forward with ideas that will enhance the status of professional archaeology in Ohio, advance knowledge, awareness, and preservation of the state's prehistoric and historic past, and revive the spirit of participation that characterized the Council in its early years.