The Making Archaeology Public Project

Dear Colleagues:

Hard as it is to believe, 2016 will mark 50 years since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Organizations and communities all over the United States will be planning events and initiatives to celebrate the preservation of places and the educational and cultural benefits that have resulted from compliance with the NHPA.

While many organizations are celebrating preservation of monuments and other aspects of our shared cultural heritage, we want to make sure that the NHPA-mandated accomplishments in archaeology are celebrated, too! Towards this end, the major professional archaeological organizations – the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Historical Archaeology, and the Register of Professional Archaeologists – have endorsed the Making Archaeology Public or MAP Project.

The basic idea of the MAP Project is that archaeologists within each state will work together to answer the question: What are the most important insights into life in the past that we have gained from NHPA-mandated archaeology? The end product of the MAP Project will be a series of short videos placed on the website of Preservation 50 (, the clearinghouse for events nationwide celebrating the 50th anniversary of the NHPA. All of the videos will be linked through an interactive map of the United States. A viewer will be able to click on a state to see what we’ve learned. The message of the videos and the central site will be “ . . . and we might never have known this had it not been for the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act!”

The Society for California Archaeology (SCA), which coincidently will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its own founding, has taken responsibility for creating the video celebrating contributions towards preserving California’s archaeological record through the NHPA. The SCA established the MAP Project committee to produce this video. This committee is partnering with Cinnabar Productions ( to produce a 12 to 15-minute film that looks at the NHPA in California over the last 50 years through the window of obsidian, specifically hydration and sourcing studies. As the film will need to be completed by March 31, 2016, it is imperative that this project start as soon as possible.

The committee believes that we can get this off the ground and make sure that California can proudly participate in the MAP Project, but we urgently need your help. We are anticipating the overall cost will be $15,000, but after a year of fundraising efforts only have a commitment of about half of that total. We are seeking help from California CRM firms and the membership of the SCA to obtain the remainder. Many of us have benefitted tremendously from the passage of the NHPA (and its derivative CEQA) and the public funds it has provided. As you are probably aware, the law periodically comes under attack from developers and their powerful political allies, who argue that NHPA has increased their costs without any public benefit and should be repealed or scaled back significantly. The MAP Project is a chance to give back to the public and show them that their money has been well spent.

California is the wealthiest state in the nation and probably has more CRM archaeologists and firms than any state. It is imperative that we contribute to the MAP Project. Recognizing its importance, one member of the MAP Project committee has offered a $1,000 challenge for SCA members to match. Thus, every dollar you donate up to that amount will be worth $2. Please send your donations to the SCA earmarked for the MAP Project. Your donation would of course be tax-deductible through the SCA. We can do this together!

Thanks in advance for your support!

Donn R. Grenda, Ph.D., RPA
Co-chair SCA MAP Project

Jennifer Darcangelo
Past-President, Society for California Archaeology
Co-chair SCA MAP Project