As I begin my two-year term as President of the OAC, I am happy to report that the future of our organization looks bright. Our membership has nearly reached the 120 mark and continues to increase. The Council website is now on-line, thanks to the work of Christopher Pierce, and already contains a wealth of news, articles, and other information related to archaeology in our state.
The Board of Directors has been quite busy since the fall membership meeting. We held a face-to-face meeting in February, but much of our business is now being conducted via e-mail dialogues. One benefit of this new medium has been the streamlining of our approval system for selecting new members. Craig Keener and his Membership Committee have promptly processed and secured Trustee approval of several new membership applications just since January. I think that the shorter turn-around time that this new procedure provides may be, in part, responsible for the accelerated growth of our membership.
Of course, people don't join an organization like ours solely on the basis of an efficient membership system or even the availability of a good website. The fine turnout of members and interested guests at our November membership meeting at Highbanks Metropark confirmed my long-held belief that the OAC works best when our people get together to 'talk archaeology.' This includes listening to formal presentations, holding informal chats out in the hall, and even taking a long walk on a beautiful fall day to see an archaeological site (thanks Martha!). President-elect, Bob Riordan is busy planning our spring meeting which is set for Saturday, May 18 at the Ohio Historical Society.
Finally, allow me to return to the birth of our website which has made it possible for the OAC to reach a much larger audience. We anticipate that this exposure will increase the sales of our current publications, attract new members, and provide current information on Ohio archaeology beyond our membership to other professionals and the interested public. As you examine the website content, you will notice that much of it is derived from past issues of the OAC Newsletter. I see this as the initial stage in a natural evolution of our organization's communication function. This is, in other words, a tranformation of a static and rather limited medium, the paper newsletter, into a dynamic and virtually unlimited format which is the OAC website. With this new capability now in-hand, I and the Board no longer see the need or can justify the cost of publishing the current hard copy version of the Newsletter. Consequently, I have decided that the October issue (Volume 14, No. 2) will be the last in the series. Beginning in 2003, the typical contents of our Newsletter will be published only on the OAC website. I will discuss these changes in greater detail in the October issue of the Newsletter (and on the website!) so please stay tuned. In the meantime, I encourage your thoughts and constructive comments concerning all aspects of the Council's activities, publications, and programs. As I said at the outset, our future looks very bright!
State Legislation (Information about state laws, legislation, legislators, etc., can be found at www.legislature.state.oh.us.
House Select Committee Studying the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships
Recently, the OAC made significant progress in getting the State Legislature to understand and address our concerns with the identification, evaluation, protection, and interpretation of important archaeological resources in Ohio. This progress is reflected in the Select Committee's preliminary and final reports, both of which are available here on the OAC website.
The focus of the Committee's work over the last five months was on attending hearings and preparing and presenting testimony as an interested party to the House Select Committee Studying the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships. Since November 7, 2001, the Select Committee met 13 times. The Legislative Issues Committee had representation at nine of these meetings. The Select Committee released its preliminary report on February 20, 2002, and submitted its final report to Speaker Householder on March 7, 2002.
On January 23, 2002, the OAC presented written and oral testimony concerning the Ohio Historical Society's archaeological programs and partnerships. On February 1, 2002, the OAC submitted written testimony providing cost estimates and potential sources of funding for implementing the recommendations contained in our January 23 testimony. On February 27, 2002, the OAC presented written and oral testimony concerning the Select Committee's preliminary report. The full text of the three testimonies is presented on the OAC website. All testimony was prepared and submitted on behalf of the OAC membership and President Brian Redmond by Legislative Issues Committee Chair Al Tonetti. All testimony was prepared with the input of the Legislative Issues Committee and the Board of Directors.
A number of the recommendations made by the OAC were accepted by the Select Committee and appear in their preliminary report. At the time this article was written, the Select Committee's final report had not been released. These recommendations include, but are not limited to:
Regarding the last recommendation, the Select Committee has directed the Ohio Historical Society to develop mechanisms to increase communication and input from Native American organizations and the archaeological community and to submit a written report to the Select Committee and the Governor on efforts to do so by September 30, 2002. The OAC will work to see that it is a partner in developing these mechanisms. The Select Committee also recommended that the duties of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office be transferred from the Ohio Historical Society to the Ohio Department of Development. The OAC cautiously supported this recommendation, provided that it increased financial and technological support to OHPO and integrated historic preservation concerns into all levels of State Government.
Teaching Intelligent Design (Creationism) in Public School Science Classes
Recently introduced House Bill 481 requires that "whenever explanations regarding the origins of life are presented, appropriate explanation and disclosure shall be provided regarding the historical nature of origins science and the use of any material assumption which may have provided a basis for the explanation being presented." The goal of the sponsors of this bill is to teach alternative theories concerning the origins of life, i.e., intelligent design/creationism, in public school science classes. The State Board of Education is currently debating whether to add intelligent design/creationism to science curriculum standards that will serve as the basis for a new graduation test and other student assessments. The standards are to be completed by December 31, 2002. Passage of this bill would require that the standards include teaching intelligent design/creationism. If enacted, Ohio would become the first and only state to require teaching alternatives to evolution, i.e., intelligent design/creationism, in public school science classes. The first hearing on this bill before the House Education Committee occurred March 5.
Recently introduced House Bill 484 and Senate Bill 222 require that before state science curriculum standards are adopted and implemented by the State Board of Education, on or before December 31, 2002, the standards must be approved by a concurrent resolution passed by both houses of the General Assembly. This bill provides unprecedented legislative control over the content of the science standards for public schools. It is sponsored by many of the same representatives sponsoring House Bill 481. The first hearing on this bill before the House Education Committee occurred March 5.
President Bush's proposed 2003 budget (October 1, 2002-September 30, 2003) calls for a 12% reduction ($5 million) in spending for the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund, dollars that support the operation of state historic preservation offices, certified local governments, and Indian tribes. A 27% cut ($18 million) is proposed for the National Park Service's Recreation and Preservation budget, funds that support the National Register of Historic Places and related historic preservation programs. Proposed cuts to other federal agencies include $112 million for the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, a 7% reduction for the Army Corps of Engineers, including making no funds available for the planning and design of new projects, and a whopping 28% reduction ($9.2 billion) for highway spending for the Department of Transportation.
Fernald Reburial Facility
The OAC is a consulting party in the U.S. Department of Energy's proposal to use part of the land at its Fernald facility, Hamilton County, for the reburial of repatriated Native American human remains and associated funerary items. Consulting party status enables the OAC to receive and review pertinent information, offer ideas, share our views, and consider possible solutions to related issues with the U.S. Department of Energy and other consulting parties. Recently, the Committee received general information about the proposed reburial facility from the U.S. Department of Energy. The Committee is reviewing the information and will prepare a recommendation to the Board of Directors concerning the matter.
Buffalo Site Human Remains
The Committee has been discussing and monitoring recent activities in West Virginia concerning the proposed reburial of the Buffalo site human remains currently in possession of The Ohio State University. The Ohio State University has completed its responsibilities pursuant to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The Buffalo site is a major Fort Ancient village in the town of Buffalo along the Kanawha River in Putnam County, northwest of Charleston. A local group wants the human remains returned to the Buffalo site and reburied on the property owned by American Electric Power.
The OAC Grants Committee and the OAC Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the award of a $1,000 Patricia Essenpreis Grant to the Ohio Historical Society in support of the Fort Ancient Symposium. The Fort Ancient Symposium, held March 9th, 2002 at the Ohio Historical Center and followed by a tour of the Fort Ancient site on March 10th, celebrates the long history of archaeological research of the Hopewellian Fort Ancient site and presents the results of recent research at the site. The grant assists the Ohio Historical Society in bringing far-flung scholars to Ohio to present their research at the Symposium.
In other news, on February 8th, 2002, the Board of Trustees approved the Grants Committee's recommendations for changes to the awards and limitations of the OAC Grant and the Essenpreis Grant. The restriction on the OAC Grant that previously precluded use of more than one-half of an award for funding radiocarbon dates has been eliminated in recognition of the current costs of radiocarbon dating. Secondly, the maximum award for both grants has been increased. The OAC Grant now has a upper limit of $750, while the Patricia Essenpreis Grant is increased to a maximum of $1,250.