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Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground Author(s): Cheryl J.

La Roche and Michael L. Blakey Source: Historical Archaeology, Vol. 31, No. 3, In the Realm of Politics: Prospects for Public Participation in African-American and Plantation Archaeology (1997), pp. 84-106 Published by: Society for Historical Archaeology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25616551 . Accessed: 04/09/2011 11:36
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CHERYL J. LA ROCHE MICHAEL L. BLAKEY

scend urban archaeology, physical anthropology, or the concerns of any one group. Background When the United States General Services Ad ministration (GSA) contracted for the construc tion of a 34-story office building at Broadway, Duane, Elk, and Reade streets,New York City, on a site that historical maps indicated had been an 18th-century"Negroes Burying Ground" (Fig ure 1), it did not anticipate the storm of contro versy

Seizing Intellectual Power: The Dialogue at the New York African Burial Ground
ABSTRACT
The New York African Burial Ground Project embodies the problems, concerns, and goals of contemporary African and urban archaeology. The project at once has informed and has been informed by the ever-watchful African Americans and New York public. It is a public that un American research are not value-free and are often, in fact, politically charged. An ongoing dialogue between the con cerned community, the federal steering committee, the federal government, and the archaeological community has proved guide of Public derstands that the hypothetical and theoretical constructs that

that lay buried and moribund beneath nearly 30 ft. of fill. The cemetery, which was renamed the African Burial Ground in 1993 (Figure 2; Landmarks 1992), dates from before 1712 until 1794 (Howard University and John Milner Associates [HUJMA] 1993), and as the nation's earliest and largest African burial ground, holds great interest for anthropologists and historians as well as for the descendant

difficult but ultimately productive. The project has an Office Education and Interpretation which informs the public through a newsletter, educators' conferences, and labo ratory tours. The public, largely students, attends laboratory tours which often provide initial exposure to archaeology

and physical anthropology. Much of this public involve ment, however, was driven by angry public reaction to the excavation of a site of both historical prominence and spiritual significance.

communities. Although historians had long known of the African Burial Ground, the redis covery was a revelation that struck a deep chord among many people of African descent in New York (Harrington 1993:33).

Introduction Excavation of the New York African Burial Ground has brought scholars, academicians, re
searchers, cultural resource managers,

handling and disposition of the physical remains and artifacts of their ancestors. This relentless determination also ensured that the spiritual as pects of the site would not be lost in the face of scientific inquiry (Laura 1992; S&S Reporting 1993). Excavation of theAfrican Burial Ground has global and universal implications which tran

religious leaders, community activists, school children, and the general public together in a complex and often contentious philosophical and ideological relationship. The dynamics of the relationship and the shape of the project have been determined to a large extent by the relent less determination of the African-American de scendant community to exercise control over the an FIGURE 1. Detail of "APlan of the CityofNew York from

politicians,

1755. This is one of the Survey," by Maerschalck, few historic maps which specifically delineates the Burial Ground although the ravine and pertinent topography are Actual absent. are also Society, The palisades and the blockhouses for cannons shown. of the New York Historical (Courtesy New York.)

Historical Permission

1997, 31(3):84-106. Archaeology, to reprint required.

SEIZING INTELLECTUAL POWER: THE DIALOGUE 85 Savage brought the influence and power of the U.S. Congress to challenge the GSA. Allocation of building funds for the federal government was controlled by this subcommittee, and itwas Con

gressman Savage's gavel that signaled the end of the excavation (Finder 1992). New York City Mayor David Dinkins combined with Congress man Savage to bring considerable political to bear upon the project. New York weight State Senator David Paterson, 29th District Member, used his influence to form the Task Force for the Oversight of the African Burial Ground (Committee on Public Works and Trans portation [CPWT] 1992; Paterson 1995). This task force, many members of which later served on the federal steering committee, was originally h If .

AFWCANM^LGROUND

composed of concerned citizens who monitored pertinent activities and events that surrounded the site. Peggy King Jorde,Mayor Dinkins's Liai son for the Foley Square Project, and the New York City Landmarks Commission contributed power and were largely responsible for municipal

FIGURE

2. Map of lower Manhattan, outlining the original five- to six-acre boundaries of the African Burial Ground.

from National Historic Land (Reprinted with permission mark Designation for the African Burial Ground, New York, February 1993.)

alerting and updating the public about the burial ground (CPWT 1992; Jorde et al. 1993:6). Other African Americans were also uniquely positioned for a collaborative "power play" that changed the course and direction of the project. Journalists brought the power of the press. The late jazz violinist Noel Pointer led an organiza tion of artists. Local New York clergy members led a committee of religious leaders. Architects,

Alleys (Rutsch 1992:12). More than 400 buri als were eventually disinterred from what was once the six-acre burial ground before a collabo

through July 1992. Early projections indicated that 50 burials would be recovered from an un disturbed area beneath Manhattan and Republican

gan

Excavations of the African Burial Ground be in the summer of 1991 and continued

rative effort among influential and determined African Americans, and others, combined to halt excavation, take moral responsibility, and seize intellectual power.

Activism and

the African Burial Ground

As chairperson of the Subcommittee on Pub lic Buildings and Grounds, Congressman Gus

also wrested from the government by individual elderly African Americans, who understood, through life experience, the false hope of rheto ric and the emptiness of promises (Figure 3). A team led by Michael Blakey of Howard University brought the final necessary compo nent, intellectual power and technical expertise (HUJMA 1993). The research team based at

tual, physical, and intellectual control of the site, contributed a community activism that forced the to stop the excavations, GSA alter building plans, and change the composition and direction of the professional leadership of the project In the end, power was (Harrington 1993:30).

lawyers, and scores of concerned citizens, many of whom represented institutions which were dedicated to taking responsibility for the spiri

86 Howard University began presenting its proposal in April 1992 to direct the site's analysis that time, it was By (Blakey 1992a, 1992b). apparent that no contract had been let for analy

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

sis and that the research design developed by and Interpretation, Inc. Historic Conservation (HCI), the original cultural resource management firm hired to excavate the site, (revised inMarch of 1992) had been rejected by review agencies. The original research design of approximately 12 pages (Rutsch 1992) had devoted two pages to or African-American African the site's bioarchaeology, and it gave virtually no substan tive discussion of New York's black history. The limited approach of the initial research de sign underestimated the enormous analytic value

forone of the many rallies FIGURE 3. Protestors gathered of the African Burial Ground. the excavation concerning for The $3 million refers to monies allocated by Congress memoralization. (Photo by Richard Brown.)

research design Howard University and JMA si multaneously shared with the community and the potential value of anthropological re GSA search which could at least be known, and, at best, might be retrieved. By July 1992, after a constant barrage of pe titions, angry rhetoric and community dissension, congressional hearings, professional meetings, lobbying, and political action, leadership and control of the entire project was eventually awarded to more sympathetic institutions with greater experience and which were better devel oped for research of this kind. The ancestral remains were subsequently sent to the Cobb Bio

of the cemetery site. In June 1992, negotiations were taking place between Blakey as Howard University's repre sentative and Daniel G. Roberts of JohnMilner in the initial JMA was Associates (JMA). was having dif phases of replacing HCI, which ficulty administering a project of thismagnitude (Cook 1993). By submitting a more appropriate

New York City and is assisting Howard Univer sity with laboratory processing and conservation of artifacts. JMA, Blakey, and Lesley Rankin Hill had worked together on the First African Baptist Church Cemetery project in Philadelphia, in which they had facilitated reburial of 140 skeletons of African Americans (Angel et al. 1987; Parrington and Roberts 1990; Rankin-Hill 1990; Blakey et al. 1994). Each had experience in public archaeology and community consulta tion. Furthermore, within the American Anthro pological Association (AAA) and theWorld Ar chaeological Congress, Blakey had been deeply involved in the development of position state on

ments

issues of indigenous repatriation For several previous years he had been peoples. working with an AAA panel thatwould propose an anthropology of "public engagement" (Fore man 1994). Research Questions

international team of Africanist and African Americanist scholars for archaeological and his JMA established an office in torical analysis.

logical Anthropology Laboratory, Howard Uni versity,Washington, DC (Figure 4), and placed under the care and direction of Michael Blakey as scientific director. Howard University has engaged a national and

African-American

The research design (HUJMA 1993) specifies three major research questions about the people buried at the site: what are the origins of the population, what was their physical quality of life, and what can the site reveal about the bio logical and cultural transition from African to identities? In 1995, the

SEIZING INTELLECTUAL POWER: THE DIALOGUE 87 project's specialists added the examination of "modes of resistance" as a fourth major question. The methods employed to answer these questions are both anthropological and multidisciplinary. Molecular genetics, bone chemistry, skeletal bi Professional Issues and Background

ology, history and archaeology (American and African), ethnology, conservation, and African art history represent the range of fields within which
this work, now

An adequate understanding of the scholarly and public concerns relating to the African Burial Ground must be informed by an aware ness of long-standing debates about the politics

It proach is also biocultural and biohistorical. examines the historical interactions of biology and culture such that data on each inform the other and, most importantly, such that human biology The is interpretedwithin historically-specific
contexts. sociocultural

The African presence in colonial New York is approached from an African diasporic perspec tive, taking into account the African societies from which most of the population is derived and placing New York within the context of the broader American diaspora. The scientific ap

underway,

is concerned.

of the past among African Americans. These debates intersect development in American an thropology and history. The theoretical precepts that guide the fields of physical anthropology, history, and archaeology converged at the Afri can Burial Ground. But these are three areas of

study which, historically and to varying degrees, have been used to either systematically victimize or alternately ignore (Fredrickson 1971:71-96;

significance of the site, according to the research design, should be understood in relation to the "vindicationist" effort (Schomburg 1929) and the critical intellectual, educational, and po litical concerns of the African-American commu nity. This comprehensive research plan therefore integrates the most contemporary scientific ap proaches and African-American intellectual tradi tions. The design was developed in systematic consultation with representatives of the descen dant community and the anthropological commu nity, following the African-American tradition of scholar activism as well as recent anthropologi cal approaches to "public engagement." By act ing on an interpretation of the AAA Statement on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and in consistence

with the World Archaeological First Code of Ethics, the project's Congress's new leadership adhered to the right of the de scendant community to accept, modify, or reject the research design. The design was approved by

General

the federal steering committee, with some modi fication, and was subsequently accepted by the Services Administration in 1993.

FIGURE Howard ancestral

4. from the welcoming at ceremony Program the transfer of the University commemorating remains from New York City to the Cobb Labora Unversity.

tory, Howard

88 Fraser and Butler 1995; Fountain


scholars were now

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

1986; Potter 1991:95; Deloria 1995) the population which


so eager to study.

plication through racial eugenics (Hrdlicka 1918), while much of physical anthropology was being used to justify racial segregation laws which in stitutionalized discrimination against blacks. Members of MFAT seemed keen on demon strating to the public their technical knowledge

Academic

Anthropology

and History

The skeletal population excavated from the by showing the cranial and post-cranial traits African Burial Ground represents the remains of they used to classify the race of skeletons. some of the first Africans brought to North Members of the New York descendant commu America. These ancestral remains were of great nity often identified these explanations of facial interest to the New York Metropolitan Forensic and pelvic traits as troubling. Why should a Anthropology Team (MFAT), the original physi grandmother have been disturbed at such demon cal anthropologists working with HCI. MFAT strations to her granddaughter? Why should an was greatly concerned with the morphometric architect have asked, perplexed, how it could be data (Cook 1993:26-27; GSA 1993) this baseline possible for a femur to represent her ancestry? population contained for the development of "racing" methods. This emphasis on the appli cation of methods of racial identification coupled with a paucity of previous African and African-American studies research characterized the approaches of the archaeologists and physi cal anthropologists who had excavated the site. What has caused these negative reactions to to racing? We simple biological approaches have no certain answers to these questions, as indeed those who expressed these concerns seemed unable to explain them.

The potential for stereotypical, sterile, and denigrating interpretations of the site based on morphometric analysis became increasingly ap parent to theAfrican-American community. The

and the community, Smithsonian's early racial research is representa tive of broader trends to which objections were primacy of this interest, coupled with a per ceived disrespect on the part of the physical In 1916, Hrdlicka made (Blakey 1987, 1996). (1928) had great difficulty in obtaining coopera anthropologists and the GSA for the wishes of the descendant community, led to much of the tion from African Americans, particularly conflict that has surrounded the African Burial women, for his study of "The Full-Blood Ameri as can Negro," Ground Project (CPWT 1992:34; Scarupa 1994). whom he described "suspicious." Distortions of the African and African-Ameri African Americans were generally aware of the can past by anthropologists and historians have demeaning uses of such data, which were gen been a prominent concern of African Americans erally used to show their inferiority and social for nearly 150 years. As early as 1854 Frederick Douglass pointed to the works of the and first American physical anthropologists as an effort to show blacks to be Egyptologists uncivilized and subhuman for the purpose of legitimating the institution of slavery (Douglass Ales Hrdlicka, the first curator of 1950[1854]). physical anthropology at the United States Na tionalMuseum, Smithsonian, stated that physical anthropology was intended to have practical ap distance, while "elite" Euroamericans clamored to be included in such research, which was gen erally used to demonstrate their superiority and social position. Hrdlicka had a preconceived notion of full-bloods as the objective unit of

African-American

The intellectual background to the issues of racial determination may shed some light, how ever. There are historical precedents for objec tions to anthropological studies of race in the

biological analysis, yet most African Americans were not included in that type which he sought
to measure cans today, and characterize. has For been African associated Ameri with "racing"

arguments in support of black

inferiority, social

SEIZING INTELLECTUAL POWER: THE DIALOGUE 89 and biological distance, and stereotypical images that reflected little of the range of variation that they knew of themselves. The similarities between this historical example and the forensic approaches initially proposed for the African Burial Ground can be very informa tive. Forensic approaches assume the existence of a real racial biological type. While a broader can be captured range of African Americans or Negroid, classification used within the black, today, the assumption persists that there are some discrete traits that represent the features of a pure type (for example, nasal "guttering," ex tion. The methodologically constructed black or "Negroid," however, is dissociated from any par ticular culture and history. Racing thus con structs an identity that is culture-less, history less, and biologically shallow. Here, racing was being proposed by anthropologists who had en gaged, as the community and scholars soon be came aware, in very little study of Africana his tory and culture. The proposed alternative combined morpho logical, morphometric, and molecular genetic data to assess specific breeding population affili

treme prognathism, large teeth). Morphological assessment in which MFAT was immediately involved during excavation focused on such dis crete, stereotypical traits or their absence. These were the features that were being described to the public. Furthermore, the use of inadequately tested raised both scholarly and public questioning. The MFAT method involved measures of the bones of the thigh and hip. The accuracy of thismethod has not been demonstrated on popu
post-cranial measurements for determining race

ations (Blakey 1992a, 1992b; HUJMA 1993). Historical, archaeological, and stable isotope data would be used to interpret the cultural and eco logical characteristics of the places of origin. The result should produce information about af filiated populations that have culture histories such as the Ashanti, Yoruba, Dutch, Lenape, English, and other potential origins of the people buried in the African Burial Ground. The de scendant community's reaction to this biocultural approach was far more favorable than to foren however, objected racing methods

lations other than the Americans of the Terry 1993; GSA 1993; (Cook Collection at the Smithsonian, with which the Epperson 1997). In our case, itwas the descen method had been developed dant community that would ultimately choose. (DiBennardo and Embedded in the context of the New York Taylor 1983). The tautological nature of that test was questioned at the time of the original African Burial Ground phenomenon is a sophis ticated awareness on the part of the general Af study. Moreover, even themore reliable cranial methods of racing that are based on African rican-American public regarding the demeaning American populations have been shown to be of anthropology abuses and history by Euroamericans. The descendant im wholly inadequate for the study ofWest African community populations, which are morphologically different mediately understood the parallels between the from African Americans, different from other mishandling of the bones and the racial reality African populations, as well as regionally di of their lives (Wright and Brown 1992; Davila verse. To reduce the biological identity of the et al. 1994). If race follows theAfrican descen African Burial Ground population to these nar dant population beyond the grave, then racism, row typologies was to assume, if applied, to by definition, follows as well. construct a stereotype of the ancestral population. This is not far from Hrdlicka's turn of this century. limitations at the

sic classification. Many physical anthropologists, to the rejection of MFAT's

Public Engagement Through History

Caucasoids, Mon Biological race?Negroids, viewed by forensics experts as the goloids?was most objective or scientific means of classifica

During the excavation phase of the project, the public was kept informed through a "grassroots," community-based newsletter, Ground Truth, by

90 word of mouth, and by contacting the GSA di rectly for information. As leadership of the project changed, public education became a ma jor component of the African Burial Ground
project.

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

In virtually every area where evidence from the past is needed to support the validity of a given proposition, a historian can be found who will provide the evidence Historians have usually been prepared to provide facile and quick explanations for the subor dinate place of African Americans in American life. From the time Africans were servants to the mainland the enormous forced ences ended, basis was labor of peoples begun; and the notion that is needed.

Office

of New York City, "Reclaim the Memories." Her business, which she had been operating for five years, reflected the fact thatAfrican-Ameri can scholars were developing compatible re sources and approaches that were informed by

Prior to her work on this project, Wilson had developed an effective approach to public history through her African-American historic sites tours

Sherrill D. Wilson was named director of the of Public Education and Interpretation (OPEI), formerly known as the Liaison Office.

brought as indentured of English America in 1619, task of rationalizing and justifying the on the basis of racial differ after legal slavery was of racial differences persisted as a segregation and discrimination even

(Franklin 1989[1965]:132).

for maintaining

Carter G. Woodson, perhaps the most impor tant single African-American historian, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915 and published the Journal of common understandings of the relationship of Negro History as the first outlet for the dissemi anthropology and history to the needs of their nation of black history. His efforts led to the community. Her focus on public history was in 1926, formation of Negro History Week consistent with public engagement initiatives. which was later to become Black History Month. The African Burial Ground Project would ulti His most prominent book, The Mis-education of mately benefit from that preparation. the Negro (Woodson 1933), speaks directly to By focusing on the need to fill the gaps of the historiographic influences of the ideology of omission left by Eurocentric public history in white supremacy. New York City, Wilson was participating in the Throughout the civil rights and black nation long tradition of what St. Claire Drake termed alist movements of the 1950s, '60s, and early "vindicationism." Throughout the 19th and 20th '70s, "Black Studies" programs were fought for scholars and African African-American centuries, by African Americans and established at many as be characterized could usually universities (Hine 1986). During the 1980s and because the most persistent "vindicationists" 1990s, an Afrocentric educational movement thread running through their work was the at emerged in the black community in response to tempt to correct the demeaning distortions of the the distorted global and American history Afri culture, biology, and history of the Africana can-American children are continually taught. world (Schomburg 1929; Drake 1980). See also a romantic view Rankin-Hill and Blakey (1994) for histories of That history frequenly presents of European and Euroamerican identity and an anthropological contributions to the vindicationist omitted African and African-American presence and Van Sertima effort; Diop (1974[1967]) in important societal developments, of which (1986) treat recent vindicationist efforts relating to archaeology, linguistic, and classical studies they were an integral part. Indeed, New York's African Burial Ground that are currently broadly read among the Afri was a vivid example of the omission of the co can and African-American public. lonial Africans' presence and contribution to the Eurocentric distortions of Africana history have been viewed not as accidental flaws of indi building of the city and the nation. The African American public could at once turn to the abun vidual researchers but as politically motivated dant and tangible physical remains of the people and systemic means of social, intellectual, and omitted from the city's deficient school curricula. cultural control. While seminal historical works to correcting this legacy, By omission, northern slavery and racism were have contributed denied. Euroamericans rarely have had an understanding The African-American public interested in the of the depth and dimension of African-American African Burial Ground was usually quite aware intellectual life (Hine 1986):

SEIZING INTELLECTUAL POWER: THE DIALOGUE 91 of bodies of "vindicationist," Africana studies and Afrocentric literaturewhich held greater in tellectual relevancy, while exposing the biases of "mainstream" or Eurocentric historiography and anthropology. Many among theNew York pub lic were influenced by extensive travel to vari ous African countries, some of which was done with Afrocentric organizations. To quote Miriam Francis, one of the most active members of the federal steering committee, "If itwas an African find, we wanted to make sure that itwas inter from an African point of view" preted (Harrington 1993:34). When vindicationist motivations were ex as part of the site's significance for the plained
community, Euroamericans,

mains. Although never explicitly stated, the sen timent among the descendant community was that the importance, particularly the spiritual importance that the site held, was too great to allow field excavation techniques to be the sole criterion of competence (Harrington 1993:33). The question was not whether these individuals were qualified scientists, but whether theywould

be qualified to direct research on an important African-American bioarchaeological site. African Americans in and Through

Archaeology For approximately the first 75 years of the history of American archaeology, until 1946, African Americans as well as other groups with out an independent income were largely excluded

African-American

including members of the New York City Land marks Preservation Commission and the Advi sory Council for Historic Preservation, expressed fears and objections, characterizing the approach as ethnocentric bias. Yet the vindicationist tra dition was posed as a corrective for persistent Eurocentric bias and misrepresentation, and as a
search for truth and accuracy.

from the profession. During the depression it was discovered that archaeology could usefully employ large numbers of individuals to move earth. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) projects of the 1930s, and later the GI Bill, allowed a broader segment of America's social classes exposure to archaeology. Most of

Archaeology Management

and

Cultural

Resource

Although the impetus for the project was cul tural resource management, the implications have been broad and complex. New Yorkers sought and still seek authority, defined by Kertzer (1988:110) as the right to exercise influence over behavior, with African and African-American archaeologists and anthropologists directing the
research. As

the first archaeologists without independent wealth were World War II veterans who ben efited from the GI Bill (Barbour 1994). During the 1960s and 1970s, the Ford Foundation and other funding sources established fellowships to correct the underrepresentation of African-Ameri can scholars, which led to an increase in Afri can-American anthropologists (Drake 1980), the vast majority of whom were cultural anthropolo
gists.

cerns that the guiding methodologies, theories, and ideologies that govern the primary research disciplines (e.g., Hodder 1986, 1992; Leone and Potter 1988; Trigger 1989; Blakey 1990:38; Yoffee and Sherratt 1993; deMaret 1994:183; Leone and Potter 1994; Orser 1996) would be misapplied in studying the skeletal and artifactual remains from this site (Harrington 1993:36; Fos ter 1994:4). This concern certainly extended to archaeological theory and practices, particularly since problems that potentially have contributed to the loss of data occurred as a result of rapid excavation and inadequate stabilization of re

previously

stated,

there were

con

The development of Cultural Resource Man agement (CRM) has fostered the growth of Af rican-American since the 1960s archaeology Barbour 1996), particularly in (Ferguson 1992; the South. Until the excavations of the African

Burial Ground, African-American archaeology in the North had concentrated on finds that re flected the interests of individual archaeologists and were largely of local interest (Barbour 1996). Some of the early work in the North included Robert (1972) Schuyler's study of oyster fisherfolk of Sandy Ground, Staten Island; Bert Salwen's (Bridges and Salwen 1980) study at

92 Weeksville; households James Deetz's in Massachusetts

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

study of black developed as ethnically distinct disciplines, the formermainly white and the lattermainly black, including Parting with little interaction. Theresa Singleton, the (Deetz 1977) and Black Lucy's Garden Ways 1945; Baker (Bullen and Bullen 1980); and Smithsonian's leading historical archaeologist, Mark Leone's (1984) public archaeology pro and Ronald chair of Northeastern Bailey, gram at Annapolis. Recently, CRM firms have African-American Studies Depart University's added significantly to recovery of African-Ameri ment, attempted to bring the two fields together can history, including JMA's excavations at the in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1989. Singleton two First African Baptist Church cemeteries in (1994) and Singleton and Bograd (1995) recog Philadelphia (Kelley and Angel 1989; Parrington nize that the ethnic and black studies movement et al. 1989; Crist et al. 1995). of the 1960s and '70s spurred initial interest in CRM archaeologists have, however, been ac African-American archaeology, along with his countable to governmental and other clients who toric preservation legislation and bicentennial frequently are not principally interested in an interests. They find that "the problem [of Afri thropological research, a problem which has can-American archaeology] is that the field is pointed to the risk of "deskilling" (Paynter 1983) theory poor, not data poor" (Singleton and and to oftentimes inadequate resources for care Bograd 1995). Samford (1996:113) has also ob ful analysis (Lacy and Hasenstab 1983). The served, "In the two decades that archaeologists extent to which CRM archaeologists uphold dis have been excavating African American slave standards (Schuldenrein 1995) is also ciplinary sites, they have accumulated a substantial body not the same as the extent to which they uphold of data. Unfortunately data recovery has out the standards of African-American studies. The ar paced both analysis and the reformulation of predominantly Euroamerican field of CRM chaeology and the predominantly African-Ameri can field of African-American studies remain far apart. Generally, CRM archaeologists need have little academic preparation or interest in African American research. CRM archaeologists rarely seek academic preparation in African-American studies departments and very few faculty of Af
rican-American studies research

contracted by archaeologists. Is the view of African-American history and culture so defi cient, so simple, that one need have no special ized training to conduct research in that culture
area?

departments

have

been

understanding of African-American history and culture, profit from the conduct of research on sites that influence how African archaeological Americans are defined. This was clearly the
case, and a

While several important studies have certainly been done, year after year, archaeologists and physical anthropologists, some with a superficial

goals."

team at the rounding the original excavation New York African Burial Ground project. Understandably, New Yorkers feared that the often hidden from the cultural significance boundaries of social contact and daily interaction would be unrecognized and overlooked (McGuire and Paynter 1991) and that obvious interpreta tions would become problematic in terms of rec ognition. This is particularly so since far fewer African descendant sites have been excavated or identified in the North as compared to the fre quency with which southern plantation sites are little archaeological excavated. Comparatively evidence exists for 17th- and 18th-centuryNew York Africans, suggesting thatmuch groundwork will have to be laid in the study of this popu
lation.

major

source

of

contention,

sur

Philosophical

Divergence

Philosophical divergence occurs in several ar eas including methods of analysis and interpre tation, semantics, and social interpretation.Each is addressed more fully below.

Analysis

and

Interpretation

In the informally segregated United States, archaeology and African-American Studies have

POWER: THE DIALOGUE 93 SEIZING INTELLECTUAL Seizing intellectual control has meant that the criteria for competency have been expanded to include an affinity for African-American culture, past and present, and comfort with and knowl such an interpretation (Klima 1992:20). As a New Yorkers insisted on African-Ameri result, can leadership and involvement in all aspects of this project. Yet, Larry McKee (1995:4) argues in "Com Is It Futile to Try and Be Useful? mentary:

edge of the politics of African descendant popu lations, their cultures, and their histories (CPWT Wilson 1992:34-41; 1993:33; Harrington As was sometimes the case at the 1995:3). African Burial Ground excavations, there was evidence of discomfort and uneasiness with Af
rican Americans among some excavators and

(McGowan and Brighton 1995, archaeologists further contributing to concerns pers. comm.), that current racial attitudes would influence inter pretations of the historical population being stud
ied.

Historical Archaeology and theAfrican American Experience" that "studying African-American life from just an African-American perspective would end up one-sided and ultimately sterile." Pre sumably, then, the dearth of African-American archaeologists, which he also acknowledges, im plies that archaeological interpretationof African American sites to date must be one-sided and ultimately sterile since primarily Euroamericans

ties (Robertshaw 1995). As Jamieson (1995:39) correctly observes re garding study of the remains from the African Burial Ground: "The developments in New York City . . . have demonstrated that contract archaeologists are required to deal with such re mains, and that a solid understanding of the his torical and anthropological aspects of African American mortuary practices is necessary before interpreting them." In a field where African Americans have been largely invisible and the gies that uncover the archaeological visibility of African Americans are sorely needed (Barbour 1996) .
documentary evidence unsupportive, methodolo

knowledge the entangled philosophical and theo retical dilemmas archaeology must resolve with respect to the demands of descendant communi

1994:6; Curtin (Nobile 1993; Wayne people?" and an insistence on "racing skeletons" 1995) (GSA 1993; Epperson 1997) give the impression that simplistic questions are being asked rather than complex, insightful queries that also ac

Furthermore, questions which reflect the gen eral sentiment "should white people study black

interpret these sites. After 125 years of Ameri can archaeology as an organized discipline, there are fewer than six African Americans who hold Ph.D.s in the field (Barbour 1994), with an equal number currently in graduate around the country.
There was a concern among

programs
Ameri

African

cans that what would be deemed the important avenues of inquiry would be hollow and irrel evant for the African-descendant community Entrenched, long (Muhammad et al. 1993:3). held philosophical positions of power are not easily relinquished, and new perspectives are often difficult for scholars to develop or embrace without dialogue or outside influence. As the changing archaeological perspective weds ar with interdisciplinary re chaeological findings search and oral history, perhaps scholars and others outside the discipline may begin to access and find relevance in the body of work produced by our efforts. African-American historians, in
can be informed

particular,

logical research and interpretation.

by

accurate

archaeo

Semantics Semantics and the use of descriptive language has been a constant theme in New York. Insis tence on the use of the word African in the re naming of the "Negroes Burying Ground" dem onstrates the descendant community's understand ing of the power and influence of language as well as the need to eschew European descriptive terminology. These African Americans chose to

to Hodder "It is only (1986:7), According when we make assumptions about the subjective meanings in theminds of people long dead that we can begin to do archaeology." This view of archaeological interpretation again would have left theNew York descendant community depen dent upon the largely Euroamerican researchers who would consider themselves qualified for

94 call the Africans what they chose to call them selves?African Mutual Relief Society, African Free School, African Methodist Episcopal

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

Church, for example (Stuckey 1987:199-200; The descendant community Wilson 1995:11). has insisted that "slaves" not be identified by their condition of servitude but rather by the conditions imposed upon them (S&S Reporting 1993) . It is particularly telling that the term slave is never specifically defined in dictionaries

to refer to enslaved Africans, although this is the most pervasive use of the word in the United States. The term "enslaved African" is perhaps
more accurate than servant,

chattel laborers, or slave and conveys the invol Not all linguistic restructuring is so easily ac In many instances, the complished, however. is limiting when one attempts English language
to accurately rience. The convey continued the African-American use of the term expe "master" untary aspect of enslavement.

bondspersons,

bond

to rule or direct; an individual having predomi nance over another; having all others subordinate to oneself 1967; Oxford (Illustrated Heritage 1971, 1991, 1971; Webster's English Dictionary 1994; Scribner'-Bantam English Dictionary 1979; World Book Dictionary 1984; Merriam-Webster 1994) . Jesus Christ is often referred to as ''the Master" (Webster's 1983). Nowhere within the various definitions is the word "master" ever defined to accurately reflect the specific, tradi tional colloquial usage of the word. Never is
"the master" defined as enslaver, or as one who

reluctance to divest of euphemistic language. The term "master" is defined as "one with the ability or power or authority to control; one who is highly skilled, superior; a victor, a conqueror;

in anthropological 1972; (e.g., Blassingame 1991; Holloway 1987; Meillassoux Stuckey 1966; 1991) and historical (e.g., McManus Johnson 1969; Franklin 1989) writings is a clear example of the romantic use of language which reflects a Eurocentric approach indicative of a

5. Burial 101 had tack heads arranged on a coffin ina shape that has been interpreted to be either a heart or to represent an Adinkra symbol. (Photo by Dennis Seckler; Services Administration.) courtesy of U.S. General FIGURE

and 1972; Meier (cf. Blassingame 1986; Stuckey 1987; White 1991) or "planter" rather than enslaver as the descriptive which encompasses the slave-owning aspects in herent in the plantation system (e.g., Moore 1985; Singleton 1985; Ferguson 1992; Mintz and Price 1992). This term, however, lacks accuracy holder" Rudwick
or visceral, emotive power and in no way con

enslaves, principally African descendant popula tions, or one who deprives Africans of their
humanity, dant or one who coerces the labor and so

cial actions, most specifically of African descen


populations.

veys the hideousness of the institutionof slavery or the function and actions of its principal per petrator. Moreover, the term is misleading, since Intellectual "the planter" might rarely plant. empowerment equips African Americans with the ability to confront ideological justifications and rationalizations pertaining to use of traditional Similar to language usage, analysis of material culture within archaeology is also an area that can be subjective and open to interpretation.
language.

Recently, scholars have attempted to avoid the use of the termmaster by using the term "slave

POWER: THE DIALOGUE 95 SEIZING INTELLECTUAL interpreter's specialized knowledge and fa miliarity with the culture being studied should At and does affect analysis in obvious ways. the African Burial Ground, for example, a pat tern of nail heads formed a symbol on a coffin which was widely recognized as a heart (Figure The 5). An African-American scientist, while not at all a specialist in African symbolic systems, rec ognized the ornate heart shape as closely resem bling one of the Asanti Adinkra symbols whose use was growing in popularity in African-Ameri can culture. When a Ghanaian historian of Af rican art looked at this same symbol, he too saw Sankofa, one of the Adinkra symbols, and could explain the appropriateness of its temporal, cul tural, and mortuary context: "The symbol ex did have a fundamental understanding of issues, and while many others empathized with the is sue of desecration, most sought only to contain the inconveniences being fostered by black pro test, a protest whose justifications they could scarcely have comprehended. Equally significant forAfrican Americans were the metaphorical and symptomatological mean ings of the conflicts in which they were em broiled. Here were the historical and the cur rent, day-to-day problems of racial discrimination being played out on a small scale. Audible ra cial epithets were not being slung, but that has not been the dominant or accepted mode of rac ist social relations in the United States for some time now. Instead, the federal government and

presses theAkan social thought that espouses the its previous consultants were seen as pursuing a essence of tying the past with the present in course of obstruction that reflected a dismissive order to prepare for the future" (Ofori-Ansa attitude toward blacks whom they sought to con trol by denying access to substantive power. 1995:3). While it is difficult to interpretor extrapolate Both the consultants and the GSA underesti meaning from a culturally ambiguous symbol mated theAfrican-American community's resolve to establish authority over the disposition of the within the archaeological context, Adinkra sym bolism is more appropriate to the population site and its analysis. When African-American buried in theAfrican Burial Ground and demon community leaders and scientists repeatedly as strates the divergent perspectives which shape serted those intentions, glaring attempts were made to ignore them or to placate them with interpretation. The introduction of relevant Af rican systems of thought provides evidence of shallow offerings. African and African-American scholars felt Most of the Euroamerican government officials why to broaden the prospective of this and their consultants acted without apparent rec compelled project. Myopic interpretation of the compara ognition that blacks understood exactly what was tively few diagnostic artifacts excavated from the being attempted and had effective strategies for site would contribute to a superficial understand those obstacles. dismiss Exclusion, surmounting ive attitudes, tokenism, and claims of unfairness ing of New York's African colonial population.
and "reverse full access racism" to when resources African are Americans commonplace

Social

Politics of the African Burial Ground

seek

view of the issues was more accurate, relative to most Euroamericans involved with the project. some Euroamericans While directly involved with the controversy, and who were closely aligned with the African-American community,

The African Burial Ground is often seen as an example of whites and blacks perceiving issues so differently as to merely exist together in physical space while operating in very different worlds of thought and action. African Ameri cans succeeded as they did because their critical

part. Where in other aspects of daily life indi vidual African-American citizens would be lim ited in their ability to roundly address such cir cumstances, here in the importantmoment and symbolism of their ancestor's dignity, white rac ism would be addressed in microcosm. The United States government's role as antagonist, along with that of the discipline that defined

interactions with white Americans. The effec tiveness of the sophisticated African-American lobby at the city, state, and national levels dem onstrates a lack of realism on their opponents'

96 racial differences and African culture, could not have been more appropriate foils for African
American empowerment.

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31 (3)

Despite the longer track record and established credentials of Howard University's program of research in African-American bioanthropology, members of the original excavation team charac
terized Howard's efforts as "reverse racism," a

characterization that immediately eliminated multitude of intellectual issues. Many of whites who had represented anthropological preservation concerns in New York City

the the and

today's African Americans have been able to speak for themselves (Wall 1995). The federal steering committee meetings were among the most virulent encounters associated with the African Burial Ground project (S&S Reporting 1992-1994; Schomburg Center 1992 1994). Many of the Euroamericans originally in control of the project were unaccustomed to or uncomfortable with emotional displays, and dem onstrated a dismissive attitude when unable to contend with the emotionally charged, angry re sponses of a descendant community whose ear

and who had supported greater participation by Afri lier moderaton was met only with betrayal. can-American scholars at the site began to object More often, however, it was the need for to Howard University's plan to remove the re toward African Americans that "sensitivity" mains from New York City to itsWashington whites recognized, but did not understand. laboratory. These New Yorkers thus attempted While the issue of sensitivity toward the sacred to stand in the way of African-American intel was apparently shared by Euroamericans and lectual control, in the interests of their own ac African Americans alike, itwas unclear whether cess to a prominent historical resource. the meanings of the concept were the same for both. African Americans were insisting on "re Since New Yorkers can be extremely provin cial (Muhammad et al. 1993), the choice on the spect" for the dead and the living. In a society imbued with racist stereotypes of blacks as part of the descendant community to remove what must have been viewed as "their" cultural overly emotional, irrational, and hyperpolitical, even concerns resource to an environment where their interests however, for "sensi liberal white can be based upon a patronizing could be understood, respected, and empowered tivity" easily attitude whose assumptions are racist, further is a dramatic indictment of the status quo. The need to place the remains at Howard University adding to an atmosphere of mistrust (Kutz also speaks to the dearth of local options and 1994). African Americans sought control, not bioarchaeology The Federal the lack of investment in African-American in New York City. Steering Committee sympathy. The charter of the federal steering committee was not renewed once the newly constructed federal office building was occupied in Novem ber 1994, leaving many with the impression that the federal government's only interest in address ing community concerns was expediency and that clearly no lasting changes had occurred. There are several specific issues which were never resolved by the steering committee. The areas of concern beyond the direction of the re search included the establishment of a world

foster the dialogue between the GSA, archaeolo an and class museum, memorial, (Jorde et al. appropriate gists, and community members reinterment on the site (Jorde et al. 1993). This 1993). The New York descendant community as as onerous could was given an official voice in the project; future last issue, reinterment, prove the excavation of the cemetery if the GSA again archaeological requirements were explained, and the government was seemingly accountable. The misjudges the gravity and depth of importance attach to this final phase wishes of the descendant community could be African Americans their ancestors, Unlike (Cohen 1992:21). There are a number of engi directly articulated.

In response to provisions set forth in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (36 CFR 800) requiring the consultation of inter ested parties, a federal steering committee com posed of concerned community activists and various experts and professionals was formed to

POWER: THE DIALOGUE 97 SEIZING INTELLECTUAL neering constraints associated with site stabiliza tion that render reburial on-site a major problem, requiring careful planning and strategy, profes sional expertise, and a timetable. the steering committee, ex By disbanding pressed interests of the descendant community and issues which require time to resolve have of the responsibility for fulfilling the descendant community's mandate now rests in the hands of the researchers and scientists in conjunction with The struggle for control of the Afri the GSA. can Burial Ground site was a struggle to have the voice of the community heeded. Exclusion of direct community involvement as the project progresses removes ethical, moral, spiritual, and

been left unanswered. These unresolved issues are of continuing concern, although the force with which they are currently being addressed has diminished. Senator Paterson has convened a committee to address the issue of themuseum (Paterson 1995), but progress has been slow. Although major concessions have been won on

social issues and obligations from community control. The work of holding the GSA account able to previous agreements with the community has been largely assumed by the anthropologists directing the project.

the part of the African descendant community, issues such as reburial, several unresolved and the level of funding for memorialization, scientific and historical research specified in the research design, in conjunction with unfulfilled commitments, leave the question of ultimate suc
cess unanswered.

The Office of Public


Interpretation

Education

and

the ancestral remains have been Although moved to Howard University and the federal steering committee is no longer in existence, New Yorkers have not relinquished stewardship of nor their desire to be closely involved in ev ery aspect of the project (Muhammad et al. 1993:3). To quote Senator David Paterson, "The descendant community of African Americans has been left spellbound by the discovery, and impa tient for results" (Assael 1993:18). Through
ceremonies, symposia, lectures, demonstrations,

future of this office is unclear (Strickland-Abuwi 1996), it has provided information through its monthly reports to more than 40,000 interested 1995 persons from around the world (OPEI 1996). The OPEI conducts on-site and off-site histori cal slide presentations about the African Burial Ground project and the complementary history of Africans in colonial New York, archaeological laboratory tours, and educators' symposia for
teachers, researchers, and other interested

The Office of Public Education and Interpre tation (OPEI) opened in March 1993 for the express purpose of informing the New York and national communities about the ongoing status of theAfrican Burial Ground project. Although the

and meetings, they have been relentless and dili gent in their devotion, as have researchers in their commitment to public engagement. This is the scope and magnitude of activism that exca vation of this archaeological resource has engen
dered.

The office also accepts high school and college


students as semester interns in exchange for aca

The OPEI has trained more than 80 vol unteers to help inform local communities of is sues and current events relating to the project.

sons.

per

Current Status Today, New York no longer has a black mayor (Willen and Moses 1996), Gus Savage is no longer chair of the Subcommittee on Public

demic credit. Howard University also conducts laboratory tours inWashington, DC, and has trained a team of more than 25 volunteers in its to the efforts to make the research accessible public. The OPEI publishes Update, a quarterly news letter that has a readership of more than 10,000 persons per issue. As a direct result of the ex cavations, the African Burial Ground project has introduced the topics of archaeology, physical

Buildings and Grounds, and Congress is contem plating a decrease in funding and support for CRM (Craib and Johnson 1995). Since the fed eral steering committee no longer exists, much

98 anthropology, and conservation to scores of chil dren and adults who otherwise would not have been exposed to these disciplines. The OPEI has supported Richard Brown, former steering committee member, in a commu nity-engineered campaign to have theU.S. Postal Service issue an African Burial Ground com memorative As of 1995). stamp (Devieux August 1997, more than 104,000 signatures had been collected

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31 (3)

New

York City (Homberger 1994:44-45) each the visual imagery of the location misrepresent by depicting a lush, flat pastoral landscape rather than the hilly, ravined location near New York's noxious industries. Situated on undesirable land and originally located outside the city limits, the

however, has not eliminated misinterpretation or Bucolic misrepresentation. depictions of the African Burial Ground in the New York Times (Dunlap 1992) and in the Historical Atlas of

from 40 states and 16 countries (OPEI 1995-1996; Devieux 1997, pers. comm.). The goal of this commemorative stamp campaign was to collect 100,000 signatures for submission to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee in April 1996 (OPEI 1995-1996). This petition has been denied for the second time by the commit tee and will not be eligible for consideration again until

late 1997. Such defeats only the resolve of theNew York commu strengthen nity and of the stamp campaign workers who understand the political and bureaucratic ob stacles as well as the economic concerns of the committee associated with the stamp approval (McAllister Coverage 1996a, 1996b).

marks 1992:5), and other historical documents are not in evidence. Presenting such incorrect the power of the African Burial images negates Ground and the hardships faced by New York's

cemetery was, by mid-18th century, beyond a the hills and deep gated, 14-ft.-high palisades; ravine described in Stokes (1915-1928:591), the National Historic Landmark Designation (Land

early African community. This type of distor tion reinforces the notion thatAfrican-American New Yorkers must be relentless in their insis tence on accuracy in all aspects pertaining to the
site.

process Media

coverage of the African Burial Ground has been extensive in documenting this project unique colonial-era archaeological site. The Af rican Burial Ground: An American Discovery is an award-winning film produced (Kutz 1994) by GSA; Unearthing the Slave Trade aired in 1993 on the Learning Channel; and Slavery's Buried Past aired in 1996 on the Public Broad casting System. More than 500 newspaper and magazine articles have been published in media attempts to fill the historical voids relating to an African presence in colonial New York, and to tell the story of theNew York African-American descendant community's struggle to preserve the site and disseminate Pearce 1995). its history (Citations 1995;

Media

The image (Figure 6) from The Historical At las of New York City (Homberger 1994) was consultant Alice approved by cartographic Hudson, head of theMap Division of the New York Public Library. When the inaccuracies were referenced during a lecture, Hudson stated that this bucolic scene was drawn by modern English artists and that the drawing does indeed look more like the English countryside than 1995, 18th-century New York City (Hudson
pers. comm.).

maps, further contributing to the geographical and topographical misinterpretation that has

Furthermore, most cartographers of the period also misrepresented the African Burial Ground by eliminating specific identification of the six acre cemetery from themajority of the historical

The African Burial Ground has also been in cluded in at least two recent historical publica tions, The Encyclopedia of New York City (Jack son 1995) and The Historical Atlas of New York This new inclusion, City (Homberger 1994).

1990,1, plagued the site (Edwards and Kelcey Since historical ar 3:147; Jorde et al. 1993:6). chaeology relies on documentary evidence as well as archaeological data for interpretation of
sites, current visual

sions of the past have implications for the dis cipline and reveal the continual problems of cul
tural bias.

misrepresentations

and

omis

POWER: THE DIALOGUE 99 SEIZING INTELLECTUAL Diversity and Divergence Intellectual sophistication beyond the narrow limits of customary Eurocentrism requires the participation of people of diverse ethnicities in the practice of anthropology in general (Blakey 1989) and of archaeology and museology in par the Howard University initiative and those of the African-American public seemed to largely cor respond, but these could not be realized until the public took control of the situation. While spirituality is an issue that was at the core of theAfrican-American struggle for control (S&S Reporting 1993), there are several other issues of concern that African-American New Yorkers brought to this site. Foremost among them is the philosophical divergence among Af there is general rican Americans. Although the major issues, the African unity surrounding descendant community speaks with many voices

ticular (Blakey 1990:45). Thus, the intellectual evolution of the field; non-white participation; anti-Eurocentrism; and community engagement and empowerment are mutually reinforcing. As the situation in New York evolved, the African Burial Ground became apparent as a practical

The Muslim community, and dramatic case for the development of the (Update 1993-1996). for example, is constant in their reminders that and practice of inclusion and engagement. theory were also enslaved and could have Muslims In the case of the African Burial Ground, en was also powerfully informed by the been buried at the cemetery (Hatim 1995). gagement Various religious communities approach the long tradition of African-American vindicationist as discussed previously, site from divergent philosophical as well as di critique (Foster 1994), The political and by scholarly activism, the latter being a vergent political perspectives. forces active within the African-American com somewhat more assertive version of the engaged scholar or public intellectual. The interests of munity also have been diverse, ranging from

FIGURE

6.

Idyllicmodern 1994).

depiction

of the African Burial Ground,

which was

located

southwest

of the Collect

Pond

(after

Homberger

100 black nationalists and Afrocentric organizations to individuals with strong personal beliefs. It is particularly interesting that older African Ameri cans, some of whom have retired from profes artifacts Ground.

HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY 31(3)

from the African Burial excavated It is tangible, it is real, and it lives "Black people see those re through the dead: mains from the Burial Ground as life and death and as part of the continuum of our experience rather than a data pool to be objectified" (Nelson to former Mayor David 1993). According Dinkins:
Millions of Americans celebrate Ellis Island as the

sional and scientific careers, have been among the most persistent. Additionally, divergent religious, political, and scientific perspectives and philosophies in approaching the problems relating to the African Burial Ground have, at times, been the most threatening to the cohesion and resolve of the African-American community.

symbol of their communal identity in this land. Oth ers celebrate Plymouth Rock. Until a few years ago, African-American New Yorkers had no site to call our own. we York's There was contributed, we no place which said, we were here, played a significant role in New

Conclusion For African-American New Yorkers, the exca vation of our ancestors has been a cathartic and The anxiety caused by wrenching experience.
the excavations and

we?their

.... Now history right from the beginning descendants?have the symbol of our heritage African Burial Ground. embodied in lower Manhattan's to the contributions (Dinkins 1994). and suffering of our

The African Burial Ground

agement provoked anger, outrage, and cynicism. The descendant community is still highly pained and deeply offended by the desecration of this ancestral site (Daughtry 1992; Scarupa 1994). Outraged by the fact that this population, mis treated in life, was continuing to be mistreated

post-excavation

project

man

is the irrefutable testimony ancestors

beyond death (Dunlap 1992), New York's Afri can Americans were driven by a sense of re sponsibility for the protection of ancestral heri tage and a desire to ensure that the dead were honored and memorialized (Wright and Brown 1995; Devieux 1992; Jorde et al. 1993; Wilson sense of responsibility and This 1995). descendancy rapidly spread to the national Afri
can-American communities, and to African com

Noted historian John Henrik Clarke character izes the African Burial Ground as a holistic space that touches the lives of African people in this country and might touch the lives of Afri can people all over the world (CPWT 1992:34). The African Burial Ground project has benefited from the participation and interest of people from around the world, from all walks of life, The and from many ethnic backgrounds. and and the archaeological OPEI project's laboratories have been visited by bioanthropology
scholars from

munities as well. A royal Ghanaian delegation visited the site and Howard University in 1995, and a briefing was held for the United Nation's

Caribbean, Canada, England, and Ireland, as well as from a multitude of African nations and other
countries.

Japan,

East

Germany,

Korea,

the

While special
Ground.

Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1996. of the global importance and of Realization the overwhelming spiritual, historical, anthropo logical, and scientific importance of the site has led the African descendant community to take extraordinary measures to seize intellectual con

filiated, New
No

all African Americans are culturally af Yorkers have an immediate and relationship with the African Burial
one person or group, however, can

trol of the project. It sought power and control, not the afterthought of inclusion. With many important issues still unresolved, perhaps the true National Historic Landmark in February test of that power is yet to come. Archaeology is not an end in itself. For many ACKNOWLEDGMENTS African Americans, it is a conduit, an avenue like to thank Dr. Sherrill D. Wilson, leading to spiritual rebirth and renewal of our We would history. Our history is in the bones and in the
of the Office of Public Education and

speak for the dead. This project and the histori cal and anthropological resource it represents, can only be enhanced when people with differ ent agendas and ideologies enter into a deeper dialogue as they raise their voices in chorus. The African Burial Ground was designated a 1993.

Director for

Interpretation

POWER: THE DIALOGUE SEIZING INTELLECTUAL


the African Burial Ground, The for her contribution contributions R. Perry, and

101
at Howard author. 1996 Skull Doctors Revisited: Bias in Intrinsic Social and Political of American the History Physical Anthropology, with special reference to thework of Ales Hrdlicka. Essays Honor in In Race and Other Misadventures: His Ninetieth in of Ashley Montagu and Leonard Year, edited by Larry T. Reynolds Lieberman, pp. 64-95. General Hall, Dix Hills, NY. L., Teresa E. Leslie, and Joseph P. University, 11 June. On file with the

to and G. We

critique T. D. Barbour, are Roberts

of this work. also

of Dr. Warren Daniel

Dr. Warren greatly

the financial acknowledge Administration. Services

appreciated. support of the U.S. General Noel Pointer and Edmund members both of of

dedicated two active and Francis, have African-American community, during join the Ancestors Burial Ground project; may the course they

the

on to gone the African Blakey, Reidy 1994

rest

in peace.

Michael

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