News from OAC

Government Affairs Committee Report to Members, October 18, 2019

Al Tonetti, Chair

Andy Sewell, Lauren Sieg, and Mike Striker, Committee Members

State Issues

Ohio Underground Damage Prevention Coalition.

Subcommittees of the coalition continue to meet discussing possible changes to Ohio’s “call before you dig”/underground utilities protection law. Subcommittees will report their findings and make recommendations to the Coalition early next year.

Human Burial Places Protection Bill.

On June 11, State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) held an interested party meeting to discuss the bill. Among the groups in attendance were the Archaeological Society of Ohio, Ohio Farm Bureau, and Ohio Realtors Association. They expressed opposition to the draft bill. Based on some of the objections raised, revisions to the draft bill have been proposed and the OAC and Ohio History Connection/State Historic Preservation Office (OHC/SHPO) continue to work with the state representatives and the Legislative Service Commission on it.

Archaeology Guidelines Update.

SHPO continues to work on revisions, hopefully developing a draft next year. SHPO wants to make the revised guidelines more user-friendly and easily updated on their website with links to best practices and other useful documents. New guidelines on geophysical survey, photogrammetry, tribal consultation and NAGPRA, human remains, submerged resources, and integration with the history/architecture guidelines are the focus.

History Fund Update.

In 2019, the Ohio History Fund has raised $97,034, slightly ahead of this time last year. Last year netted $99,119. The History Fund grant application deadline was September 4. Since 2012, the History Fund has made more than $690,000 in grants to 73 organizations in nearly half of Ohio's 88 counties. The History Fund has received 347 grant applications totaling almost $4.2 million in requests. Applications for archaeological projects are encouraged. 

Statehood Day.

Will occur on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. An initial planning meeting was held on October 2. Capital improvements and the human burial places bill will be among the legislative priorities.

Tribal Nations Conference.

Will occur October 22-24. OHC/SHPO will update the tribes on the human burial places legislation.

Wyandot Mission Church and Cemetery.

Recently, the United Methodist Global Ministries returned ownership of/deeded three acres of land containing the mission church and cemetery in Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, to the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma. In 1843, the Wyandotte deeded the land to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, the forerunner to today's United Methodist Global Ministries, to protect it when the federal government removed the tribe from Ohio. State Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) read a commendation from his colleagues in the statehouse.

Federal Issues


 In June the House passed the 2020 Interior-Environment funding bill. It includes $121.66 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, a $19 million increase over last year and $89 million more than President Trump requested. Funds include:

  • $53,675,000 for State Historic Preservation Offices, an increase of $4 million
  • $13,735,000 for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, plus-$2 million
  • $23,250,000 for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the struggle for civil rights, plus-$8 million
  • $750,000 for grants to under-represented communities$16,000,000 to the Save America’s Treasures grant program, plus-3 million
  • $167.5 million for both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The full Senate has yet to pass the bill, but the Senate Appropriations Committee generally reduces the increase in funding in these program areas. Differences will be resolved in conference. The Federal Government is again operating under a continuing resolution. Congress and the President will have to negotiate a deal to keep the Federal Government open beyond November 21. 

S. 2430, Paving the Way for Rural Communities of 2019 Act. 

Recently, Senators Blackburn (R-TN), Perdue (R-GA), and Hyde-Smith (R-MS) introduced S. 2430. The bill would remove compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act for federally funded projects or activities in any area of the country that is not part of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA). In Ohio, this would remove compliance in 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties, all of them rural. S. 2430 was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. No hearings on the bill have occurred. We will work with our partners at the federal level, particularly the Coalition for American Heritage and the Society for American Archaeology, in opposing this bill.

H.R. 1179, African American Burial Grounds Network Act.

Introduced on February 13, 2019, the bill has 42 cosponsors including Ohio Reps. Balderson (R-Troy), Beatty (D-Columbus), Fudge (D-Cuyahoga and Summit counties), and Turner (R-Dayton). In May the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on the bill. It would create within the National Park Service the African American Burial Grounds Network that would:

  • Create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic African American burial grounds, with the consent of the property owner;
  • Provide technical assistance to local public, private, state, and local partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these burial grounds;
  • Make available grants for local groups to research, survey, identify, record, and aid in the preservation of sites within the Network; and
  • Establish educational materials for community members, local groups, and schools about African American burial grounds.

In June, the OAC joined 72 other local, state, and national organizations, including six from Ohio, in a letter of support for the bill to the Subcommittee and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.R. 3846/S. 2165, Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act.

Bipartisan bills to explicitly bar and establish penalties for knowingly exporting Native American cultural items that were obtained in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, or both. The bills have been referred to the House Natural Resources, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs Committees; and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, respectively. The House bill has 15 cosponsors, none from Ohio.  Recently, a hearing on the bill was held by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. The Senate bill has 9 cosponsors, none from Ohio. It has not had a hearing.

Section 106 Consultation Updates 

Judge Barker House: USACE project, Washington County. Archaeology at the NRHP-listed building has been completed without finding anything of significance. There is ongoing consultation between the USACE, SHPO, local, state, and national preservation organizations, state and federal legislators, and others concerning the project. Relocation of the property is no longer being considered. Transfer of ownership of the building to a local nonprofit organization is likely. The OAC will be a concurring party on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the property.

Maumee River Bridge: USACE/ODOT project, Henry County. The MOA has been executed and data recovery completed at site 33HY167. The Miami Tribe is an invited signatory on the MOA; the OAC and Eastern Shawnee Tribe are concurring parties. The MOA included a stipulation to prepare an article about the archaeological investigations for an unspecified peer-reviewed journal.

Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam repair: USACE project, Tuscarawas County. Consultation on impacts to the Zoar Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The USACE and their archaeological consultants have conducted archaeological investigations in the project area. The Phase 1 survey report including geomorphological, geophysical, deep trenching, and shovel test pit investigations will be reviewed in the next few weeks. No direct impacts to archaeological sites are foreseen. A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was executed in 2016. Tonetti attended a consulting party meeting in Zoar on October 17.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath: USACE project, Summit County. Mitigation of adverse effects to 33SU679, an intact portion of original towpath, have been completed. We are a concurring party on the MOA.

Gorge Metro Park Dam: USEPA project, Summit County (Metro Parks). Removal of Gorge Dam in Cuyahoga River. The OAC submitted comments on reports addressing the identification of historic properties. We are a consulting party on the project. 

Wayne National Forest Plan Revision: Tonetti continues to participate in monthly conference calls. The assessment of current conditions phase of the revision is to be finalized this winter, with the planning development phase and Environmental Impact Statement completion scheduled for 2021.

Universal Charitable Deduction Legislation: Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) again introduced legislation (H.R. 651, the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Act) creating a universal charitable deduction, i.e., available to all taxpayers. It was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. Ohio Rep. Turner (R-Dayton) is one of 22 cosponsors. In addition, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, recently introduced H.R. 1260 to amend the IRS Code for the same purpose. The amount of charitable contributions would not be capped under the bills. They would make charitable deductions universal and above-the-line, meaning that all taxpayers can deduct charitable donations from their taxes whether they itemize or not. The Republican’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act resulted in a 1.1% decline in charitable donations by low- and moderate-income individuals. The OAC is a non-profit charitable corporation registered with the state of Ohio. The OAC is an exempt organization as described in 26 U.S.C. Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Employee Identification Number 51-0176494, and is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations to the extent allowed under applicable law.

2019 Fall OAC Meeting

The Fall Meeting of the Ohio Archaeological Council will be held at the Cedar Ridge Lodge at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park on Friday, October 18th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The schedule for the meeting and the abstracts of the papers to be presented are below.  We hope you will be able to join us for this opportunity to learn about Ohio’s Call Before You Dig law, and new findings in Ohio Archaeology.


Time Presenter Topic
9:30 OAC Coffee and Donuts
10:00 OUPS Call Before You Dig Training
11:00 OAC OAC Business meeting
12:00 Lunch On your own (maps provided)
1:30 Various Paper Presentations
3:00   Adjourn




Seaman’s Fort Excavations

Glen Boatman

The Seaman’s Fort site is situated on a bluff top near the confluence of the west branch of the Huron River and Hunt Creek in Erie County, Ohio. The approximately 2 acre site is characterized by a descending “hog-back” narrow crest between the Hunt Creek and Huron River flood plains below on the southeast and a restricted ”bottleneck” access to the northwest. The Northeast and southwest limits of the site are characterized by 25 meter drop-offs to the river and creek bottoms below. The northwest access has three parallel earthworks that are 31-34 meters in length and one to two meters high extending nearly fully across the access but for a small opening along the northeast. The earthworks have ditches between them. Likewise there were three smaller earthworks to the southeast. The site is lightly forested and was never plowed. It was used as an orchard at one time and a grazing area at another time. Past investigations are summarized, and recent investigations reported.


Non-Profit Archaeology in Greater Akron

Eric Olson

The 501c3 non-profit Stewards of Historical Preservation (SHiP) has been operating in the Akron area for two years. Eric Olson, president of SHiP, will review the challenges and needs in the Akron community that have come to light in the short time the organization has existed. Challenges include fundraising, educational outreach, public engagement, and volunteer recruitment. The challenges SHiP has faced are not unique, but nonetheless are a learning experience.


Evidence of Hopewell Feasting in a Non-Mound Context

Sean Coughlin and Tim Everhart

Excavations at the North 40 Site (33Ro338) have uncovered evidence of a large structure associated with evidence of craft production on the outskirts of Mound City. Three pit features outside the structure were excavated and the debris, raw materials, and tools of crafting were documented within. One feature, Pit 3, also contained potential evidence of a feasting event based on the ceramic and paleoethnobotanical assemblage. This presentation presents the results of the analysis of the faunal remains of the feature and how they further support the evidence of a feast in a non-mound context.

Fortified Hill Update


With the help of approximately 800 individuals and organizations, Fortified Hill has been acquired. The property will be owned by Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park and Museum through the Harry T. Wilks Family Foundation. The purchase price for the four tracts totaling 186 acres is about $1.5 million, about $500,000 of which was raised by small and large donations including $100,000 from The Archaeological Conservancy (TAC), $50,000 from Three Valley Conservation Trust (3VCT), and $15,000 from Heartland Earthworks Conservancy (HEC). TAC and 3VCT will hold archaeological and natural resource easements, respectively. HEC will conduct geophysical surveys at the site to aid in its conservation and interpretation. Fortified Hill Park will eventually include trails, signage, and educational materials so that the public can learn about this significant earthwork, already listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Urgent: Please Help Save This Hopewell Earthwork!

We recently learned that Fortified Hill, a Hopewell hilltop enclosure near Hamilton, Ohio, is going up for public auction on September 28! Much like our successful effort to save the Junction Earthworks in Ross County a few years ago, you can help save it by pledging a donation today to the Archaeological Conservancy’s effort to preserve it. Located between Dayton and Cincinnati, this area is booming in industrial and housing development. With its sweeping views of the Great Miami River Valley, Fortified Hill could be lost to development unless we and others working to save it can raise a few hundred thousand dollars to help acquire it. The earthwork’s mounds and most of the embankments remain visible above the surface, including its rather enigmatic south and east gateways. A growing coalition of organizations and private individuals is working feverishly to save the site. Follow this link to the Archaeological Conservancy’s website and make your pledge now…and perhaps on your next visit to the area you can stop off at the Fortified Hill site, walk its paths, and see for yourself what your contribution helped save!


Ohio History Fund Grant Application Is Open

This year’s deadline for Ohio History Fund grant applications is 11:59 pm, September 4, 2019. If you have an archaeology project that needs funds you are strongly encouraged to consider applying. The Ohio History Fund is a competitive matching grant program for archaeology and history projects. From 2013 - 2019, the Ohio History Fund made 73 grants in 37 counties totaling more than $690,000, including archaeological research, exhibit development, and site preservation. Proving there is a strong need for the program, it has received 347 grant proposals totaling $4.2 million in requests. The Ohio income tax check-off for the Ohio History Fund is main source of support for the grant program. Grants recipients are announced at the annual Statehood Day event (Ohio Statehood Day is officially March 1).

To access the grant application and for further information go to

Award Winning Ohio History Day Paper Honors the Antiquities Act

June 8 marks the 113th anniversary of the Antiquities Act. This landmark law was the first federal law recognizing that archaeological sites on federal land are important public resources. It obligated federal agencies to preserve the historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values of archaeological and historic sites. It also authorized the President to protect places of historic and scientific interest by designating them National Monuments.

The Antiquities Act grew out of concerns that developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century for the preservation of America’s heritage and the important information they contained. Scientists in the budding discipline of archaeology joined together in a movement with other conservationists to protect sites on federal land endangered by unauthorized digging and purposeful, commercial artifact looting.

After a generation-long effort, on June 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law establishing legal protection for cultural and natural resources on federal land. The Act set important precedents, including the assertion of a broad public interest in archaeology on federal land, as well as support for the care and management of archaeological sites, collections, and information. The act linked the protection of sites and their appropriate, scientific excavation with public programs to care for and provide public interpretation of artifact collections and information from the study of a site and its contents.

To honor this effort and to recognize the winning 2018 Ohio History Day paper titled “Protecting the Past: The Fight to Save America’s Archaeological Resources”, which discusses the origins of the Antiquities Act, written by Grant Bruner, a senior at Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, with Grant’s permission we are delighted to share his paper with you. Grant’s paper also received the Native American History award at the National History Day competition. 

Although for 113 years the Antiquities Act has protected hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites on federal land, its integrity is threatened by recent Presidential actions. Please consider supporting the preservation of our archaeological heritage by asking your representatives in Congress to support bills protecting archaeological resources on federal land, such as H.R. 1050. This bill would declare Congressional support for the 52 national monuments established by presidents of both parties between January 1996 and October 2018, reaffirm existing law stating that presidential designations of national monuments cannot be reduced except by an act of Congress, and require that new National Monuments be surveyed and mapped and that management plans be put in place within in two years of designation.

To read Grant Bruner's paper Click Here