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Briefings

Ralph Johnson


Contents:

Archaeologists of the Americas

SAA's membership has now surpassed 5,600 members and you'll find each individual listed in the 1995 edition of the directory. This edition includes fax numbers and email addresses for those members who furnished this information on their membership renewal invoices. AOA is scheduled for a mid-September mailing.

SAA Online

Increasingly, SAA is using various information technologies to deliver services and exchange communications. Most recently, SAA has been registered on the Internet as "saa.org" and has installed an Ethernet-to-Internet router on the local area network in the office. You may now send email to SAA at headquarters@saa.org (a complete list of email addresses for SAA staff members and departments will appear in Archaeologists of the Americas). SAA's elected leaders, staff, and Task Force on Information Technology members are all working to launch two new electronic services for SAA--SAAnet and a World Wide Web home page.

SAAnet will provide easy-to-use graphical software for board and committee members to send email to one another or to committee conferences, and to conduct online chats. SAAnet, operational this fall, is being developed as a tool to help those responsible for carrying out the society's program of work to communicate more efficiently with one another.

Additionally, an SAA site on the World Wide Web will be launched by the end of this year. The Web site will give SAA the ability to deliver complex information quickly and easily to all members (as well as to potentially huge external audiences) with Internet access. With the explosive growth of the Web and the proliferation of local service providers who offer low-cost access to the Internet, SAA's ability to make information and services available to members--in the form and at the time you want it--is being significantly enhanced.

Your thoughts and comments about these matters are invited; email responses (to ralph_johnson@saa.org) are welcome! Additional information will appear in the November issue of the SAA Bulletin, when the Executive Board will be seeking reactions through an advisory poll on a new model being proposed for the delivery of current research.

International FaxBack Service

SAA's FaxBack service, which provides a way to retrieve stored documents on demand via fax, can now be accessed by members worldwide. From your telephone or fax machine hand set, call (919) 361-1338, or (800) 375-5603 within the U.S., and respond to the voice prompt by entering a document number: 7220 for a contact list of members of the U.S. Congress, 7221 for Guidelines for Organizers of annual meeting sessions, 7222 for Call for Submissions for annual meeting presentations.

Public Benefits Conference

Increasingly, archaeology is being asked to answer the question: Why should public funds be spent on site survey, excavation, analysis, curation, and interpretation? A conference designed to address this question and explore the public benefits of archaeology is planned for November 5-8, 1995, in Santa Fe, N.M. SAA is joining with the National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers, New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office, and the Society for Historical Archaeology to sponsor the conference. The conference will survey the multiple benefits of and multiple audiences for archaeology, identify case studies to include in a publication on the topic of public benefits, and explore how archaeology can better communicate its message to the media, political leadership, and the public. For information about the conference, registration fees, and hotel information, contact Barbara Little at the National Register of Historic Places at (202) 343-9513 (leave both telephone and fax numbers). Space is limited and hotel reservations must be made by October 5.

Emergency Response to Virginia Floods

SAA and the Society for Historical Archaeology are participating in the working group on on-site assistance as part of the archaeological community's involvement with the National Task Force on Emergency Response. The task force is undertaking efforts to encourage cultural institutions and individuals to take steps to be prepared, mitigate possible risks, and develop effective plans for response and recovery in order to limit loss to cultural resources from natural disasters and man-made emergencies (see SAA Bulletin 13[2]:15 for background). The potential for disasters to imperil archaeological resources was underscored by a report from Kay McCarron at the most recent working group meeting.

McCarron (archaeologist with Fairfax County, Va.) explained that 17 counties in western Virginia became presidentially declared disaster areas following torrential rains in June. According to the United States Geological Survey, the damage to some areas was considered a 500 to 1,000 year geological event. McCarron fears that many archaeological sites in upper watershed locations were destroyed, and reports that the flooding altered land surfaces to a degree that many remaining sites can't be located except through the use of Global Positioning Systems.

Formulating these initial assessments has been difficult, McCarron says, because no disaster management plan was in place. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was unable to provide maps of the flooding Rapidan River tributaries--so McCarron's first task was to contact the U.S. Forest Service, the Shenandoah National Park, county governments, and others who could help identify at-risk archaeological sites. Ultimately, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources developed a temporary damage assessment policy and requested assistance from the Archeological Society of Virginia to inspect known significant sites and assess the flood damage. While McCarron hopes an initial damage assessment will be completed by the end of September, a more thorough survey may take a year.

This case study illustrates why the working group on on-site assistance is developing a model for emergency response that addresses elements such as formulating interagency agreements, assessing damage, undertaking triage, building communications systems and information hotlines, deploying technical expertise through referral networks, and coordinating local and national resources. SAA salutes the Archeological Society of Virginia and Kay McCarron for vigorously responding to the disaster, particularly in the absence of a well-developed model, and for their shared commitment to preserving the archaeological record.

Editor-designates Announced

At its meeting in Minneapolis, the Executive Board approved the editor-designates for both SAA journals.

Lynne Goldstein (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) was appointed editor-designate of American Antiquity. The first issue of the journal under her editorship will be July 1996; effective September 1, 1995, all manuscripts and queries about manuscripts in progress should be addressed to her.

Gary Feinman (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Linda Manzanilla (Instituto de Investigaciones Antropologicas, UNAM, Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico, D.F.) were appointed co-editors-designate of Latin American Antiquity. The first issue of Latin American Antiquity under their editorship will be September 1996. Beginning September 16, 1995, all manuscripts and queries about manuscripts in progress should be addressed to Gary Feinman.

The respective editors' terms will officially begin at the 1996 annual business meeting in New Orleans.

Annual Meeting News

A new tradition begins in this issue of the SAA Bulletin, based on policy set by the Executive Board after considerable deliberation. The newsletter issue following the annual meeting will henceforth contain reports delivered at the annual business meeting, awards presented, and a summary of Executive Board meetings. Including these items in the Bulletin rather than American Antiquity helps keep the finite number of pages in SAA journals focused on articles, and delivers news to members as soon as possible after the annual meeting.

Because the SAA Bulletin is sent to all members worldwide, to institutional subscribers of both journals, and is also available on the Internet, the news it contains reaches the largest audience of any SAA publication. Like the journals, the newsletter is printed on acid-free paper for archival storage. A full set of back issues is maintained at the SAA office, with individual issues available to members on request while supplies last.

Ralph Johnson is executive director of SAA.

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