Paper No. 149-7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM
PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES ON NATIVE AMERICAN LANDS: DISPOSSESSION, HISTORY, AND POLICY
Paleontology, like many other Western sciences, is a field whose development has been intrinsically tied to colonialism since the 18th century. Many scientifically important and famous paleontological collections in the United States were sourced and stolen from Native American lands, including multiple vertebrate fossils taken from Sioux territory. The history of fossil resource dispossession in the United States is well-studied in certain areas, such as the Great Plains region, and understudied in others. Here we present and explain the rules and regulations surrounding fossil collection in Tribal lands (i.e., reservations) to date. Further, we highlight potential complications and nuances associated with fossil and archaeological specimen collection policies. Previous work suggests the distinction between “archaeological resource” and “paleontological resource” is unclear, as a number of fossils across the United States have been documented in an archeological context. For example, fossils placed within burial sites hold ceremonial value to Indigenous peoples of the American Southwest. Lastly, we argue that paleontologists have an ethical responsibility to learn about the regulations and best-practices for specimen collection and collaboration with Native American communities. In particular, we argue that fossil collection and management from Tribal lands must involve consultation with Native American tribes, and ethnographic histories should be incorporated in their societal interpretation and engagement. Lastly, we introduce protocols for forming substantive relationships with Tribes to engage in paleontological research, centering Indigenous scholars’ work on this topic.