CULTURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
In recent decades, pressure has been brought to bear, both at local and legislative arenas, to force developers to account for cultural and natural systems in the areas where their projects are located. As a result, the field of Contract Archaeology has emerged. The term being used to describe the analysis, excavation, and storage of artifacts from projects using public funds is Cultural Resource Management. Private firms are being organized to carry out salvage operations where construction is planned. Federal regulations demand that this be done. Where it has not been done in the past, before regulations, much of value has been lost. At Cahokia Mounds less than 1% of the site has been excavated from a site that was once 5-6 square miles in size. Much is now under roads and houses and excavation and analysis unlikely in the near future.
In the case of the Mid-America Airport currently under construction adjacent to Scott Air Force Base near Mascoutah, Illinois, Federal regulations did apply. Cultural resource management was used to analyze and preserve much of the past for the sake of the future. The procedure that was followed includes the following. Surveyors and archaeologists are used to locate archaeological and historical resources in the area to be impacted by development. Said sites are then evaluated to determine their significance in relation to the development. If the site is going to be irreversibly damaged, then one foot of top soil is machine stripped to look for stains and evidence of structure. So far, over 2500 pits and structures have been excavated at the MidAmerican site. All indicate life on the site from 12,000B.C. to 1400 A.D. The site also shows recent historical significance from 1800 to the present. During excavation it was revealed that there was no active corn growing until 900 A.D.
Federal law allows up to 1% of the project budget to be used for the excavation of
items of cultural significance. Developers often resist and minimize the amount lost to
the greatest extent possible instead of preserving the past as much as possible.
As a result, federal law is needed to protect excavation and ensure that it is required rather than an option at a given site.
In managing cultural resources any legal entity will adhere to principles of value, public benefit, understanding, respect, and integrity and will proceed on a case-by-case basis. These principles are not mutually exclusive, they share common elements and work most effectively when considered as a whole rather than individually. Applying the principles is the key to sound cultural resource management, because the principles provide the means for determining the appropriateness of actions affecting cultural resources. Given the complexity of cultural resources, it is apparent that they cannot be managed on the basis of a general list of approved or prohibited activities. consequently, all activities that might affect cultural resources, including activities relating to conservation and presentation, will be evaluated, and when approved, implemented in accordance with these principles: