Dr. John R. Welch of Simon Fraser University to coordinate site and landscape protection activities and tribal collaborations
Tucson, Ariz. (March 2, 2018)—Archaeology Southwest is pleased to announce that longtime collaborator and supporter John R. Welch of Simon Fraser University (SFU) will be guiding the Tucson-based nonprofit’s heritage site and landscape preservation program. He will assist Archaeology Southwest as it transforms its signature Priority Planning process to better amplify Native American voices and incorporate tribal sovereignty.
Adapted from biodiversity planning in natural resources conservation, the Priority Planning process engages local communities, tribes, federal and municipal agencies, and other stakeholders to systematically identify, describe, evaluate, locate, prioritize, and protect cultural resources. Priority setting may focus on specific geographical areas, heritage themes, or land-management units. Archaeology Southwest has facilitated numerous Priority Planning workshops over the past decade, including a June 2017 session in Bluff, Utah, focused on the Bears Ears cultural landscape.
“We are incredibly fortunate that John will be lending his expertise to our heritage preservation and site protection program, which strives for meaningful and respectful collaboration,” said Dr. Bill Doelle, Archaeology Southwest’s executive director. “It’s a perfect fit, in terms of John’s holistic approach, and it’s a major step forward for our Priority Planning activities, because John’s expertise is in ensuring that evaluation, interpretation, and conservation are grounded in tribal values and traditions. He’ll help us break down barriers and meet our goal of putting tribal and local communities in the driver’s seat.”
With a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, Dr. Welch has had a long career working at the interface of archaeology, resource management, and community engagement, including service as the White Mountain Apache Tribe historic preservation officer (THPO) and a founding member of the board of the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation in Arizona. Over the past decade, Welch has helped develop initiatives such as the Tla’amin–SFU program in archaeology and heritage stewardship, the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project (IPinCH), and the virtual museum for the Sq’éwlets First Nation community and village site. Welch’s projects are recognized models for close collaboration with indigenous communities.
“So often, the question archaeologists are asked—and one I ask myself—is ‘What good can archaeology do?’” said Welch. “I believe, now more than ever, that the answer lies in understanding and appreciating our incredible cultural inheritance, and then considering how this might inspire and guide our wellbeing and desired future. This means harmonizing tribal, community, research, and public policy interests. An important key to achieving that is opening up decision-making processes to community direction and wisdom. Archaeology Southwest has the assets, mindset, and flexibility to effectively mobilize in this direction.”
Ramon Riley, Cultural Resource Director for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, supports this development. “Ndee (Western Apache) cultural representatives have worked with John Welch since the early 1990s to protect and take good care of places and objects important in our culture and history. We look forward to continuing and expanding this collaboration as Dr. Welch joins Archaeology Southwest’s efforts to ensure well-deserved respect for ancestral homes and landscapes.”
About Archaeology Southwest
Archaeology Southwest is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that explores and protects the places of our past across the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest. For three decades, Archaeology Southwest has fostered meaningful connections to the past and respectfully safeguarded its irreplaceable resources. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org.
About the Priority Planning Process
In order to protect places on the land, we must first decide what should be protected. The Southwest is rich with precious places that speak to and embody 12,000 years of human history. Through the application of objective criteria and expert knowledge, the Priority Planning process identifies the highest-priority places to protect, as well as strategies to protect them. The result is something special: a vision for how to successfully protect our cultural heritage on the land for future generations. Learn more at archaeologysouthwest.org/protection-efforts/priority-planning/.
About Dr. John R. Welch
Dr. Welch received his Masters (1985) and PhD (1996) in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. John has worked for and with the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona for three decades and continues to serve as an adviser on the protection of sacred sites and the redevelopment of the Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark. He is currently Professor and Director of the Professional Master’s Program in Heritage Resource Management in the Department of Archaeology & School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Welch was a member of the Steering Committee for the SFU-based Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project. Research and outreach partners in British Columbia include the Tla’amin, Katzie, and Stó:lō First Nations. Learn more about some of John’s recent projects at fortapachearizona.org, sfu.ca/ipinch, digitalsqewlets.ca/index-eng.php and sfu.ca/archaeology/hrm.html.
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