A Statement from the SAA Board of Directors Concerning the 86th Annual Meeting

Apr 28, 2021

The SAA Board of Directors collectively apologizes to those who were harmed by the inclusion of the presentation “Has Creationism Crept Back into Archaeology?” at the SAA 86th Annual Meeting and by the initial statement issued in defense of this inclusion. Many of you offered your comments on this situation directly to SAA leaders, and we thank you.

After careful review of the recording, the SAA board finds the presentation does not align with SAA’s values, and so has chosen to not re-post it at this time.

We understand that some saw the inclusion of this presentation as a retreat from the SAA board’s support for the letter and intent of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). It is not. The SAA supports NAGPRA, an act that has transformed our field by laying crucial groundwork for a more inclusive approach to archaeology. Furthermore, the board categorically rejects the Weiss-Springer position. We fully support the perspective expressed in the newly revised Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains, which the board will vote on later this month.

As a body, we are listening and working to identify a path forward that honors all that has been shared. Furthermore, we commit to working with our members to identify and implement measures that will improve how the SAA’s ethical principles are applied to paper submissions in the future. Many of you have suggested changes to the submission review process for annual meeting presentations and constructive ideas about how to increase organizational transparency, inclusion, and equality. The board will soon commence a review of these processes in consultation with relevant SAA committees and task forces. 

The path forward to honor and realize all that the SAA wants to be is a challenging one that will require both learning new frameworks of archaeological practice and unlearning of old embedded ones. Thankfully, we know we are not alone. We are grateful and indebted to each of you who has shared, and will share, in our transformative journey. We are committed to making archaeology more welcoming and to no longer encouraging narratives and practices that devalue the knowledge of Indigenous people.