On Juneteenth, the Council of Texas Archeologists (CTA) expresses our commitment to fighting racism, protecting tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and creating a better world through our research. Texas has a wealth and diversity of cultural heritage that represents a wide range of people, experiences, and thought over the past 13,000-plus years. Our discipline has the ability to research and interpret the material remains of structural inequality and to work with descendant communities in interpreting these remains for the present and future. We stand united in promoting an anti-racist archeology in Texas and beyond.
How do we create an anti-racist archeology in Texas? First is to speak out against structural inequality and racism whenever possible and to undertake tangible change in our own thoughts and actions. Change begins with ourselves and the actions we take in promoting equity and equality.
We are committed to providing training and research opportunities for people of color. We rely on universities to provide education and training, but college is expensive. CTA member firms can support minority scholarships, research grants, and internships to help cover education costs. Graduate research is increasingly becoming more expensive and in Texas will probably only get worse in the next couple years as the economy recovers from COVID-19, so research grants and jobs are important. The CTA offers research grants for graduate students and we should work with universities and colleges in the state to promote these opportunities with people of color.
Training should lead to hiring more people of color. Archaeology has been a predominately white field and to increase the representations of people of color in archeology we need to make sure there are job opportunities and careers that include people of color. In addition, we should seek to hire and subcontract with minorities such as surveyors, backhoe operators, editors, illustrators, GIS specialists, insurance agents, etc. There are many structural hurdles in education and training that people of color face, so review your hiring practices so that they do not face these same structural hurdles in the job market.
We need to engage descendant communities in our archaeology. Descendant communities are often left out of archeology and we need to advocate with our clients and agencies to make sure these voices have a place in our research and in our regulatory compliance activities. And we should seek to make sure descendant communities are properly compensated for their time and efforts.
Lastly, it is important that we thoughtfully engage our own community on these issues. This includes our colleagues, project sponsors, governmental agencies, regulatory entities, and ourselves. Microaggressions against people of color build up over time and can be perpetuated by our reluctance to speak up against the status quo or prevailing viewpoints. It is important to understand and recognize how systemic racism works, and to be prepared to expend our efforts against it when and how opportunities arise.
Structural racism exists in archaeology and the CTA should be at the forefront in dismantling this system. Beyond our annual multi-cultural grant to the Texas Archeological Society that helps cover the cost of a Native American to attend the TAS field school, we will seek new actions to fight racism in Texas and our discipline. Our actions will speak louder than our words.