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Building a Better Bioarchaeology through Community Collaboration.

Community collaboration is a well-explored topic in archaeology, with themes such as civic engagement, community-based archaeology, public archaeology, and indigenous archaeology generating a wealth of publications (recently, Atalay 2012; Bruchac et al. 2016; Little and Shackel 2014; McDavid and Brock 2015; Skeates et al. 2012). Although productive interactions have occurred between bioarchaeologists and other stakeholder groups since the 1970s, and with increasing frequency since the 1990s (Buikstra 2006), no comparable body of literature is devoted to exploring the collaborative strategies used by bioarchaeologists with descendant communities and other stakeholders. In this commentary we define community collaboration in terms of who belongs to these communities and what bioarchaeologists' involvement with them entails. We then review published evidence for community partnerships in bioarchaeology and consider why it has not gained traction as a distinct research trend. Next, we present two ongoing research projects that illustrate the variety of stakeholders who can be engaged, the challenges that may be encountered, and the collaborative methods (namely, ethnography and oral history) that can be used from the outset of bioarchaeological research projects to facilitate open communication. We conclude by making recommendations for how bioarchaeologists can increase the quality and visibility of their stakeholder partnerships, and how these improvements will enhance the sustainability of the discipline as a whole.

First, it is necessary to define the communities with which we are encouraging bioarchaeologists to collaborate. The two types of communities usually referenced are stakeholders (L. J. Zimmerman and Branam 2014) and descendant communities (Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008a); we understand the latter to be a subtype of the former. Although a descendant community was originally considered to be people connected to archaeological subjects by biological descent, membership in a descendant community can also be claimed via cultural affiliation or any other historical, political, economic, or symbolic linkage (Blakey 2010; Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008b; Rockefeller 2016). Descendant communities may live on or near the land subject to (bio)archaeological investigation, or they may be diasporic, residing hundreds or thousands of miles away (Singleton and Orser 2003). However, there is no consistent standard by which membership in a descendant community is decreed: while Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2008b:2) emphasize members' self-identification of their ties to past persons, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) allows federally funded institutions to decide whether Native groups have provided a preponderance of evidence for cultural affiliation before they will repatriate ancestral remains and funerary objects (Public Law 101-601; 25 U.S.C. 3001-3013, Section 7[4]). Beyond descendant communities, stakeholders can encompass any group that has a stake in the process and results of archaeological work. Here, Steen et al. (2010:161-162) include those who are "intellectually and monetarily invested" in the archaeological project, "those administratively responsible for its management," all members of the research team, and research funding agencies. People who reside in the project vicinity but do not assert ties to past residents, representatives of the local or federal government, and potential property developers would also be included. In sum, a wide range of people--including researchers themselves--can legitimately claim investment in a bioarchaeological project. Who judges the relative priority of the claims and decides how they will be accommodated depends on the context in which the project

is taking place.

Although certain prerequisites must exist for bioarchaeologists to collaborate productively with other stakeholders--such as openness, communication, mutual respect, and initiatives of interest to all parties--there is no "global solution" for how this collaboration should occur (Buikstra 2006:408). The diversity of options available is encompassed by the five modes of practice in the "collaborative continuum" first proposed by Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2008b) and recently updated by Colwell (2016). At one end of the continuum is colonial control, in which control of the project and its research goals are fully held by archaeologists, and descendants and non-researcher stakeholders have no voice or involvement, other than acting as laborers. At the other end is community control, in which stakeholders and descendants control the project and its research goals, and archaeologists are in their employ. Between them lie the stages of resistance, participation, and collaboration, in which power and control of the project increasingly move from archaeologists to other stakeholders and descendant communities (Colwell 2016:116-117; Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008b:10-14). As described in the section that follows, research projects by physical anthropologists on human remains from archaeological sites have historically exemplified the colonial control model. The resistance model typified initial responses by bioarchaeologists to NAGPRA and other laws responding to indigenous claims for control of ancestral human remains; but promisingly, bioarchaeological projects in the mold of participation, collaboration, and (occasionally) community control have become more common in recent decades. We urge practitioners to continue these trends: making high-quality, high-visibility partnerships with stakeholder communities normative in bioarchaeology will enhance our discipline's relevance to the public as well as to broader intellectual discourses.

Bioarchaeology and Community Involvement: Past Practice and Current Trends

Examples of bioarchaeological research within the colonial control and resistance modes of practice abound and are ably recounted elsewhere (e.g., Colwell 2017; Kakaliouras 2017a; Platt 2011; Thomas 2000). Suffice to say, the earliest research by physical anthropologists and archaeologists on human remains occurred in a milieu of colonialism and scientific racism. More recent instances of bioarchaeologists demonstrating resistance to community involvement pertain to the passage and implementation of repatriation laws such as NAGPRA (e.g., Bonnichsen and Schneider 2000; Meighan 1992; Weiss 2008). Yet Baugher and Veit (2014:31-34, 64-67) recount several instances in the 1980s and 1990s where the excavation of human remains in the United States was characterized by communication and cooperation between bioarchaeologists and additional stakeholder groups. The remainder of this section reviews successes and challenges in applying the participation, collaboration, and community control models to projects involving human remains, which tend to be underreported (Nicholas et al. 2008a:234).

Despite the resistance that some bioarchaeologists have expressed about working with indigenous descendant communities to repatriate human remains, many positive collaborative outcomes have resulted from NAGPRA and ethical guidelines including Canada's 1991 Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples (Baker et al. 2001; Buikstra 2006; Dongoske 1996; Rose et al. 1996). In one productive partnership, bioarchaeologists worked with First Nations descendant communities in southern Ontario, Canada, to create a mutually agreeable tooth-sampling protocol for remains excavated from seven Late Woodland archaeological sites (Pfeiffer et al. 2014). Teeth are "rarely seen as being imbued with spiritual power" by these Native groups, and the strategy of retaining one tooth per person minimizes the amount of ancestral remains subjected to destructive analysis (Pfeiffer et al. 2014: 335)--yet Susan Pfeiffer et al.'s analyses of mitochondrial DNA and dietary stable isotopes addressed a variety of research questions of interest to these descendant communities about their Northern Iroquoian-speaking ancestors. The case of Shuka Kaa ("man before us") provides another instructive example, this time from an American context. When these circa 10,000-year-old remains were inadvertently discovered in Alaska in 1996, consultation with local Alaska Native tribes began immediately. Thanks to relationships of mutual trust and respect cultivated between scientists, federal agencies, and tribes, samples were taken from his remains prior to their repatriation and reburial (U.S. Forest Service n.d.). His DNA has since yielded valuable information about the ancestry and population movements of the earliest humans and their descendants in North America (Kemp et al. 2007; Lindo et al. 2017). In addition to promoting partnerships such as these, U.S. and Canadian laws and policies on human remains have inspired calls for a critical reassessment of many aspects of disciplinary praxis in bioarchaeology. Dorothy Lippert (2005, 2008) and Ann Kakaliouras (2008, 2012, 2014, 2017a, 2017b) have led the charge: their critiques of repatriation practices ask bioarchaeologists to reflect upon how they collect, analyze, and interpret osteological data, the language they use to describe human remains, and ultimately, partnerships with indigenous communities and the ethical imperatives invoked therein.

Partnerships with stakeholders also have yielded unique perspectives and lines of evidence that enrich bioarchaeologists' interpretations of non-indigenous human remains. For example, when the First African Baptist Church cemeteries of Philadelphia were excavated prior to freeway construction, local African American researchers, museum staff, and members of the church's modern congregation played key roles: providing oral histories and cultural information, producing public interpretive programming, and participating in the reburial process following osteological analysis (McCarthy 1996; Roberts and McCarthy 1995). The interest and support of such stakeholders made possible bioarchaeologists' findings on the challenging life histories and poor health of these nineteenth-century urban African Americans (Crist et al. 1997). In another American case, after nineteenth-century human remains and artifacts were discovered unexpectedly at the Medical College of Georgia, a crucial part of the research design became "engaging local residents of Augusta... in the processes of discovery and interpretation" (Blakely 1997:14). Ethnographic methods and historical research helped shed light on how, and by whom, bodies of people of color and the indigent were illicitly procured for medical training (Curtis-Richardson 1997), thus creating a context for interpreting the demography, diet, and disease evidenced in their remains (Blakely and Harrington 1997; Dillingham 1997; Harrington 1997). Productive partnerships between bioarchaeologists and other stakeholders also have been documented outside North America. The Tarapaca Valley Archaeological Project in northern Chile was confronted by concerns from local residents that their excavation of pre-Hispanic human remains was causing misfortune (Lozada 2011). Despite a lack of evidence for biological affinity, locals identified the people buried in the cemetery as their ancestors. Project directors, including Maria Cecilia Lozada, met with locals to discuss project goals, answer questions, and plan final disposition of the remains; participated in a religious ceremony to bless them; and acknowledged that their research would shape the locals' own identities as Andeans. This project illustrates how descendant communities may identify with subjects of bioarchaeological research based on any number of links (e.g., ethnic, geographical), not necessarily biological kinship.

Yet prioritizing inclusion of community perspectives does not guarantee a project's success. The excavation of the eighteenth-century New York African Burial Ground (NYABG) in Manhattan, prior to construction of a federal building by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), suffered from initial failures in outreach and consultation (Blakey 2010; La Roche and Blakey 1997). Due to the racist history of physical anthropology, the culturally affiliated descendant community was concerned that "stereotypical, sterile, and denigrating" interpretations of the site and its occupants would result (La Roche and Blakey 1997:88). Oversight of the project was transferred to Howard University, a respected African American research institution, and its new director, Michael Blakey, reframed the descendant community as the project's "ethical client" (alongside, but with priority over, the GSA as "business client") (Blakey 2008:21). Blakey's team crafted a new research design collaboratively (Blakey 2008; Mack and Blakey 2004), but fulfillment of its promise was complicated by "delays, funding problems and accusations of racism" in the research process (Slacum Greene 2002). Despite the eventual appearance of a final report (Blakey and Rankin-Hill 2009), the NYABG project has come under criticism for some of its interpretations (e.g., See-man 2010), as well as for its publication record and the distinctly non-collaborative infighting that occurred within the research team (D. R. Zimmerman and Mitchell 2013). Another potent reminder that community involvement is not always straightforward comes from the bioarchaeological project at the Freedman's Cemetery in Dallas. Stakeholder groups were numerous and varied, from city and state agencies, to national corporations, to lineal descendants of the formerly enslaved African Americans buried in the nineteenth-century cemetery. Notably, as with the NYABG project, consultation between the state agency overseeing excavation of the Freedman's Cemetery and the descendant community began at the latter's insistence, rather than through any outreach attempt by the former (Davidson and Brandon 2012:610). Ultimately, divergent opinions and contentious relationships between, but also within, professional and descendant community factions created nearly insurmountable barriers to the project's completion. Davidson and Brandon (2012:625) argue that if ethnographic methods had been used to engage with non-researcher stakeholders, more fruitful collaboration and project outcomes would have resulted.

The projects reviewed here conform to the participation, collaboration, and community control models, and they reveal the promise and pitfalls inherent to partnerships between bioarchaeologists and other stakeholder groups. Nevertheless, the pendulum's swing toward this end of the collaborative continuum increasingly seems to be a permanent feature as bioarchaeology moves through the twenty-first century. Recent books on the practice of bioarchaeology regularly acknowledge the integral role of stakeholders. The updated edition of Clark Spencer Larsen's (2015:428-429) textbook contains a new section on ethical issues that acknowledges the rights of descendant communities and identifies the benefits of collaborating with them. Debra Martin et al. (2013:98-100) go further, framing bioarchaeologists as "engaged researchers." Themes of ethics and advocacy suffuse the entire book, reinforcing their influence on many aspects of bioarchaeological praxis.

Nonetheless, protracted legal battles and intense media scrutiny over control of the disputed remains of Kennewick Man/Ancient One (Burke et al. 2008; Thomas 2000), and at the NYABG, have negatively influenced popular perceptions of relationships between bioarchaeologists and non-researcher stakeholders. Why are productive encounters so much less visible than negative ones? And why have they not spawned a research niche (e.g., community-based bioarchaeology) akin to that found in archaeology? Several factors may be at work. Community involvement occurs frequently during the course of cultural resources management (CRM), where planned excavations or inadvertent discoveries require communication with stakeholders in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. However, CRM's business model causes its practitioners to have less time and incentive to publish more widely about their experiences, which is why they often are invisible until reports are put online or published commercially years after the research has taken place. A lack of available publication venues for bioarchaeologists who collaborate with non-researcher stakeholders also has been problematic. Noting the trend for bioarchaeologists' research to be published in edited volumes, Stojanowski and Duncan (2015:53) opine that these "are typically poorly indexed and, therefore, less likely to be cited by other researchers, which has a tangible impact on individual researchers' careers." Coupled with the low emphasis many universities place on community service, academic bioarchaeologists' incentive to publish about their experiences in partnering with other stakeholders is diminished. Additionally, the peer-reviewed journals in which the articles cited above appear are diverse in scope (e.g., historical archaeology, museum studies, cultural heritage, four-field anthropology). While this array raises the profile of bioarchaeological research across various disciplines, it also makes the articles more difficult for bioarchaeologists themselves to find.

To highlight current bioarchaeological research predicated on community involvement, we present two projects, drawing attention to the variety of methods used, types of stakeholders engaged, and benefits for the projects as a whole. The first discusses a skull from the second millennium B.C. southern Levant that was donated to a teaching collection. This project originally fell under the colonial control model, but we are working to move it toward the opposite end of the continuum. The second concerns the search for the remains of two Euro-American casualties of California's Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. It is an example of the community control model, with stakeholder participation and priorities built into its research design. These projects have several qualities in common. Both of them are ongoing, and we describe here the stages most recently completed as well as plans for future research. Both projects explore newer frontiers in bioarchaeology (Baker and Agarwal 2017), the first focusing on skeletal collections and the second oriented around the search for historical human remains. Together, they illustrate the complexities of collaborative bioarchaeological research with diverse stakeholder groups, but also demonstrate how these challenges can be mitigated by making community involvement a foundational part of project design.

A "Warrior" Skull from Hebron

During the 1960s, the American Expedition to Hebron (AEH) conducted extensive archaeological work at Tell er-Rumeide (Arabic)/Tel Rumeida (Hebrew) in what is now the Palestinian Territories. Among the many discoveries was a burial cave used during the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1600 B.C.) that contained multiple interments. One individual stood out due to his remains being associated with a bronze dagger (Chadwick 1992:32, 71-75). The skull of this person now resides in the teaching collection of Sonoma State University's anthropology department after having been donated by Dr. William Poe, an excavation area supervisor for the AEH during the 1966 field season and later a professor of archaeology at Sonoma State. Osteological analysis and accompanying historical and archaeological research (Long 2015) reveal life history information that can be compared with the excavators' original interpretations. Insofar as Poe can be considered a stakeholder, due to his participation on the original research team and his stewardship of the skull in the United States, one of the authors (Long) conducted an oral history interview (Figure 1) with him that reveals how, until recently, the skull's story represents the colonialist model on the collaborative continuum.

Poe's recounting of the AEH highlights Hebron's importance in the biblical narrative and its relation to subsequent archaeological excavations. When asked about the research goals of the AEH, Poe dove into a discussion of Hebron within the Hebrew Bible, including the burials of Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah; Absalom's declaration of revolution against David; and Hebron's status as an important early urban center in Judea. Poe also explained how the AEH employed local Jordanian men to conduct the actual excavation, who were then supervised by American graduate students. The recovery and analysis of human remains was not a priority for the AEH: as was typical of the time, the information they could provide was thought not to contribute to the goals of biblical archaeology (Porter and Boutin 2014). In keeping with the imperialist partage system (Kersel 2015), the materials excavated from Hebron (including the skull) were divided between Jordan and the AEH, and the latter exported them to the United States. Poe estimates that Project Director Philip C. Hammond returned to the United States with "six tons" of pottery and "half a dozen skulls all together, most of which were from the Byzantine" period cemetery. While packing to move to the University of Utah in 1969, he gave the "warrior" skull as well as some artifacts to Poe, one of his graduate students at Brandeis University, "as the foundation of a teaching collection." Poe believes that Hammond gave him the "warrior" skull because it was in the best condition, and he was likely unaware of its provenience. He used the skull to decorate his office at Sonoma State and to illustrate to students how age and diet can be inferred from the cranial skeleton and dentition (although he never conducted research on it). Other than the "warrior" skull, the current whereabouts of the other human remains excavated by the AEH is unknown. In keeping with archaeological practice in the Middle East at that time, there is a reasonably good chance that they were reburied in an unmarked location off-site.

The burial of this "old adult with teeth well worn" has been associated with the "Canaanite warrior burial" phenomenon (Chadwick 1992:71). Defined as the single burial of an adult male with associated metal weaponry, warrior burials most frequently occurred at the end of the Early Bronze Age and into the Middle Bronze I (Cohen 2012:307). In terms of their significance, Cohen (2012:310) maintains that the decision to relinquish this weaponry to burials suggests that their associated status--in both life and death--was more valuable than their continued use. The decline of warrior burials during MB II (ca. 1750-1600 B.C.) seems to coincide with two factors: a shift from single burials to multiple burials, and a decrease in the use of weapons as grave goods (Cohen 2012; Kletter and Levi 2016). Kletter and Levi (2016:23), however, argue that they represent "male graves typical of their period" rather than exceptional occurrences denoting unusual status, achievement, or wealth. Therefore, the late date (MB II) of the warrior skull from Hebron, its inclusion in a communal burial, and the life history obtained from osteological analysis (described below) distinguish it from classic "warrior burials" and may even lend support to Kletter and Levi's challenge to this interpretive construct.

Following standards provided by Buikstra and Ubelaker (1994), osteological data collection from the skull was completed by two of the authors (Long and Boutin). Cranial morphology is that of a probable male. The obliteration of all extant ectocranial sutures and heavy tooth wear suggest that the age of death was 50+ years. Pathological conditions of the dentition include antemortem loss of three mandibular molars, possible agenesis of the maxillary lateral incisors and third molars, attrition ranging from extreme (maxillary central incisors and canines) to heavy (maxillary premolars and molars) to moderate (mandibular canines and premolars), periodontal disease of the maxillary and mandibular arcades, and two dental caries. In terms of cranial pathology, healed cribra orbitalia lesions of medium severity (Stuart-Macadam 1985) are visible in both eye orbits. No cranial trauma was observed. Therefore, these findings confirm archaeologists' original assumptions that this person was "aged," but they also suggest some of the experiences that may have characterized his long life course. These include the survival of chronic physiological stress during childhood (cribra orbitalia), a coarse diet during adulthood (dental attrition), and gingival recession (periodontal disease) and antemortem tooth loss toward the end of life. The lack of antemortem or perimortem cranial trauma (which might indicate interpersonal violence) also casts further doubt on archaeologists' identification of him as a "warrior." When integrated with archaeological and historical evidence, these osteological data can transcend the "warrior burial" categorization to provide a more nuanced picture of this man's life during a time of social change during the Middle Bronze Age.

Learning from Poe about the AEH's interest in Hebron sheds light on the project as an example of biblical archaeology, with its search for "tangible cultural material anchors for situating the Hebrew Bible in the land of the Bible" (Levy 2010:4). It also recalls the colonialist and imperialist underpinnings of centuries of Western archaeological expeditions to the Middle East (Pollock 2010). Although within the Palestinian Territories, Tel Rumeida and the rest of Hebron's Old City lies within a zone of Israeli military control per the Oslo Agreements of 1997. Since this time, Palestinian residents of the Old City have experienced severe population decline and restrictions on their movement (De Cesari 2010). Although most of the area that comprises Tel Rumeida is agricultural land, several clusters of Palestinian homes are located there (Emek Shaveh 2014:5). A permanent Israeli settlement was created in one of these Palestinian neighborhoods in the late 1990s under the premise of emergency archaeological excavation--which Weizman (2007:275 n. 37) calls "the most literal embodiment of the relationship of Israeli settlements to archaeology." The AEH is briefly referenced as the earliest archaeological project at Hebron in discussions surrounding renewed excavations at Tel Rumeida, supported in part by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which aim to create an archaeological park despite the continued presence of several Palestinian homes (Eisenberg and Ben-Shlomo 2016; Emek Shaveh 2014). The archaeological park would focus tourism efforts on remnants of the Middle Bronze Age/"Patriarchal Age" of the city (Emek Shaveh 2014:14) in an attempt to legitimate the growing Jewish settlement. However, Hebron's Old City was recently named the third Palestinian World Heritage site by UNESCO, despite efforts by Israel's representatives to block the designation (Beaumont 2017). Because the Mamluk and early Ottoman periods are the focus of the Old City's nomination, Tel Rumeida is not currently part of the core property, although the International Council on Monuments and Sites argues that it has "strong potential" for eventual inclusion (ICOMOS 2017:11). Archaeological research at West Bank sites such as Hebron powerfully exemplifies the ways in which cultural heritage can be used to assert claims to land (in the case of Israel) as well as to construct a national identity (in the case of Palestinians) (Yahya 2010).

Consequently, the "warrior" skull's stakeholders are numerous and diverse. Beyond archaeologists like Poe, they may include current residents (both Israeli and Palestinian) of Hebron, and--to the extent that the skull can be considered cultural patrimony--all Israelis and Palestinians. The current location of the skull in northern California might also invoke the interests and claims of Israelis and Palestinians (or their descendants) who have emigrated there. The oral history with Poe is intended to be the first step in a broader engagement with these diverse stakeholders. Proceeding with acute awareness of the political implications of archaeology in Hebron, partnerships could be formed with members of these groups for oral history interviews and to solicit opinions about the appropriate disposition of the skull and any further analyses to be conducted on it.

The oral history interview with Poe revealed that the skeletal remains of this old adult male were treated in a manner consistent with twentieth-century archaeological practice in the Middle East, that is, encountered unexpectedly and treated as a souvenir rather than as a valuable source of information about past lifeways or as an ancestor of living peoples (Sheridan 2017:115-118). However, oral history with a stakeholder has provided ample starting points for research into the time and place in which this man lived and the circumstances in which his remains were excavated. It has also reminded us about the history of archaeology in the Middle East and its connections to modern-day sociopolitics, suggesting the existence of an extremely large and diverse group of potential stakeholders for the skull. In its current role as part of a teaching collection, this skull can become a touchstone for multiple lessons. As well as helping students engage with lifeways in the Middle Bronze Age southern Levant, it can serve as an example of how a project that embodies the colonialist model of community partnership can become one that actively solicits information from, and respects the wishes of, stakeholders in the holistic study of human skeletal remains.

Bear Flag Revolt: The Search for Cowie and Fowler

During the Mexican Period (1821-1846), California was shaped by many prominent second-generation residents of Spanish and Mexican ancestry, known as Californios. By 1845, however, about 75% of the foreign population was composed of Euro-Americans from the United States (Walker 1999:43). On June 14, 1846, a group of Euro-American men captured the town of Sonoma, home of the northernmost Spanish mission and a military post protecting Mexico's northern frontier. They then placed Sonoma's founder and military administrator, General Mariano Vallejo, under arrest despite his favorable attitude toward Euro-American settlement (Rosenus 1995). Within days, a bear-emblazoned flag was raised and a California Republic, independent of Mexico, was declared (Ide 1967 [1880]:130-140).

On June 18, the Euro-Americans' leader sent Thomas Cowie and George Fowler on an errand to collect weapons and gunpowder. They were captured by a party of Californios near Santa Rosa, taken to the Carrillo family rancho, and killed by their captors. An account of their apparently spontaneous murders and the gruesome mutilations that allegedly followed was provided by one of the perpetrators and repeated by both Californio and Euro-American sources (Bancroft 1886:160-162; Sanchez 1995:266). One Euro-American revolt participant, William B. Ide (1967 [1880]:167-168), considered Cowie and Fowler to be "martyrs" and later wrote that "this vile act... gave strength to our nerve, and sharpness to our flint." Casting a different light on the deaths, Carrillo family histories report that during Cowie and Fowler's voluntary visit they committed atrocities including the rape and murder of a female member of the household (Carrillo and Carrillo de Haney 1983:47-49). In response to the deaths of Cowie and Fowler, several Californios died at the hands of the Euro-Americans at the Battle of Olompali and in San Rafael (Walker 1999:134-136). The independent California Republic lasted less than one month before U.S. troops began their occupation of the state. Despite the revolt's reputation as having taken place "without a single gunshot or drop of blood" (Wainwright 1996:113), the influence of the blood that was spilled, the destinies that were changed, and the histories that were written can still be felt today.

While no one disputes that Cowie and Fowler were the first two casualties of the Bear Flag Revolt, the circumstances of their deaths and location of their burials are shrouded in controversy. The search for their remains was initiated by Bill Northcroft and Ray Owen, members of the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery Preservation Committee and Sonoma County Genealogical Society. They stumbled across the seldom-told story of Cowie and Fowler while conducting research on behalf of these groups. Northcroft described his surprise at discovering that "none of this has been published.... It's certainly not talked about or brought about in the history books.... It seems as though, these particular gentlemen were... well, lost to history." In 2014 they resumed a quest that had been pursued intermittently since the 1880s: to locate the burials of Cowie and Fowler, exhume their remains, and provide them with--in their words--a "proper burial" in a "suitable place with a suitable marker" that commemorates their role in California history. After extensive archival research, they identified the backyard of a private home in the wooded hills of Santa Rosa as the most likely spot of the interments. Fortunately, the current owners of the property were receptive to Northcroft and Owen's request to investigate and even shared with them stories about the graves' location that had been handed down through previous owners of the property. A local newspaper's coverage of their quest brought the project to the attention of one of the authors (Boutin), at which time she volunteered her expertise in bioarchaeology. Given the controversial legacy of the revolt, Boutin invited another author (Dinarte) to document the fieldwork process and facilitate collaboration with local stakeholders.

Competing land claims and conflicting attitudes provoked by the Bear Flag Revolt have contemporary relevance on multiple levels in the very towns where the revolt transpired. Today, the immigrants whose legal status on Californian soil is at issue are Latino/a rather than Euro-American (Solnit 2006). Accusations of police brutality have provoked insistent calls for social justice in the wake of the 2013 death of Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old shot by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa who mistook Lopez's BB gun for an assault rifle (Romero 2016). A promising development is the imminent construction of Andy's Unity Park at the site of his death, which was designed and named through multiple community workshops (Morris 2017; Sonoma County Regional Parks 2017). Less promising is the lack of unanimity over the recent installation of a statue of General Vallejo on Sonoma Plaza (Mason 2016, 2017). Place-making, identity, and heritage continue their painful, interconnected evolution in Sonoma County and could be influenced by the findings of this bioarchaeological project.

To investigate contemporary perspectives about the Bear Flag Revolt, Dinarte has conducted participant observation during bioarchaeological fieldwork (described below) and at community events (Figure 2) and collected oral histories from members of various stakeholder groups, including lineal descendants of revolt participants, members of local historical societies, members of local Native American tribes, and archaeologists. In addition to collecting input on how Cowie and Fowler should be commemorated if their remains are found, he seeks to understand the different ways in which the revolt is remembered and how these memories have influenced ethnic identities and relationships among community groups in Sonoma County. Archaeological approaches to culture contact, especially the emergence of Californio identity in Spanish Colonial California (Lightfoot 2005; Silliman 2010; Voss 2005), and literature on public memory, identity formation, and place-making at contested sites (Flores 1998; Rainey 1997) are instructive in this regard.

Dinarte's conversations with stakeholders suggest that the majority of interviewees (9/12, 75%) favor a small, simple headstone or plaque for Cowie and Fowler if their remains are recovered. Three interviewees (3/12, 25%) are opposed to the creation of monuments for them, believing the current monuments in Sonoma Plaza and commemoration in history books to be sufficient. Interestingly, Californio descendants are present in both the group in favor of and the group opposing the creation of memorials for Cowie and Fowler. Perceptions of the two men's roles in history also vary among stakeholders. Whereas Northcroft and Owen's view of these "gentlemen" is generally favorable, Euro-American community member and local newspaper columnist Gaye LeBaron commented, "I don't think they should be regarded as heroes... because what they did was a rebellious act... i t's an interesting story, but you have to remember it's a two-sided tale." In their interviews, Donna Marie Carrillo Endicott and her brother Larry Carrillo related the family histories about Cowie and Fowler's untoward actions and expressed their opposition to the creation of monuments for the two men. Yet Carrillo opined that recovering and analyzing their remains could "flesh out their personalities, because that might help with understanding some of what probably happened at the ranch."

Based on this consultation, a research design for osteological analysis was created. Depending on the condition of the remains, and per biohistorical praxis (cf. Stojanowski and Duncan 2016), the creation of biological profiles (ancestry, sex, age, etc.) could confirm their presumptive identities, and trauma analysis could be compared with historical accounts about their lives and the circumstances of their deaths. The remains of Cowie and Fowler, however, still need to be found. Multiple alerts by dogs from the Institute for Canine Forensics suggested that historic human remains are present in the area of interest. Two rounds of ground-penetrating radar survey identified unusual anomalies worthy of subsurface testing. A records search at the Northwest Information Center revealed that no archaeological sites had been recorded in a quarter-mile radius of the property. Before breaking ground, the Sonoma County Coroner's Office and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria were contacted, each of whom sent a representative to be present during excavation in case human remains were discovered. With the help of current and former students, we opened up two 1-x-1-m excavation units, two shovel test units, and several auger tests. Unfortunately, only late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century household refuse was found. Even though the primary goal of finding Cowie and Fowler's remains was not achieved, we did count as successes the fact that the excavation received positive coverage in the local newspaper, brought together members of different local historical societies who do not ordinarily collaborate, and introduced community members young and old to the bioarchaeological process.

Our efforts to locate Cowie and Fowler's remains continue. The area subject to ground-penetrating radar survey will be expanded, followed by shovel testing to minimize property damage. This project's engagement with stakeholders and community members from the outset ensures that if the remains of the two men are found, their analysis will address research questions of relevance to these groups, and their ultimate disposition will occur in a manner that is inclusive and respectful of diverse viewpoints. By focusing on common interests, we can work toward a shared goal and avoid perpetuating a structure that creates villains and heroes in the events of our past.


The two case studies, both ongoing projects, vary in terms of the scale of community involvement and when it was initiated, the types of stakeholder groups collaborated with and the methods used to do so, and the benefits yielded for each project. The Hebron skull project is small in scale, so far involving only one stakeholder (the archaeologist who had possession of it for several decades) who was interviewed using oral history methods at the time of the skull's accession into a teaching collection. Oral history helped fill the almost half-century-long void separating the excavation and bioarchaeological analysis of this skull. Poe's recollection of the excavation process and post-excavation treatment of the skull lends a unique line of evidence to its interpretation and also sheds light on past and present practices of archaeology in the Middle East. His oral history provides a starting point from which future engagement with additional non-researcher stakeholders can occur. As they are consulted, our hope is that this project will transition from the colonial model toward a more collaborative one.

The Bear Flag Revolt project is more extensive in scale and firmly in the community control model. Foundational research questions had already been developed by community members prior to bioarchaeologists' involvement. The more formal research design created later expanded upon the original research questions based on collaboration with diverse descendant communities and multiple stakeholder groups. Attendance at community meetings, participant observation at public events, and multiple oral history interviews are key elements of this project's methodology. Given the potential for the project to affect current lives and relationships in Sonoma County, Dinarte's role as goodwill ambassador in the community was essential. His consultation efforts--which, crucially, began prior to excavation and involved community members from diverse perspectives--have revealed that the public's interest in the project is high, that strong connections exist between past and present, and that interviewees appreciated the opportunity to have their opinions included in a meaningful way.

The inclusion of these two projects under the rubric of bioarchaeology may be considered unorthodox: the first relates to a skull donated to a teaching collection, while the second deals with the potential (versus actual) excavation, analysis, and interpretation of historical human remains. Yet if community cooperation is to become a more meaningful part of bioarchaeological praxis, it must commence early in the research process, even before human remains have been uncovered or are used for instructional purposes. We argue here that the research questions asked, methods deployed, and interpretive strategies used--in other words, the entire project design--should be created by bioarchaeologists in concert with other stakeholders who have a vested interest in the places, things, and people being studied. This recommendation does not mean that the standards or goals of bioarchaeology as a discipline should be compromised or neglected. However, in order to ensure that bioarchaeology continues to make a vital and relevant contribution to anthropology's study of past and present humanity, the traditional priorities, processes, and scope of research may need to be broadened to take better account of community concerns.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Baugher and Veit (2014:34) advise that burial grounds should only be excavated as a last resort to answer research questions, and only then when "cooperation and collaboration" with descendant communities have been secured. Despite this ideal, the situation at the Old First Presbyterian Burial Ground in Newark, New Jersey, is more typical of reality: "without an energized descendant community to advocate for an adequate study and preservation, this cemetery received only minimal analysis" (Baugher and Veit 2014:71). We believe, however, that the onus for action should not be on non-researcher stakeholders (who are usually forced into the position of reacting), but on bioarchaeologists (who can plan proactively). This sentiment is beginning to gain ground among practitioners. Deskaj's (2017) recent work in northern Albania pairs oral histories with bioarchaeological data to reveal the persistence of population dynamics (here, mortuary landscapes influencing social interactions) from prehistory into the present, despite the region's diverse religious traditions. In another example, Geller and Suri (2014:509) recount their interactions with local residents and laborers on a bioarchaeological project, which forced them to grapple with "the political and economic realities of these research locales." They began to regard the human remains that they were excavating in new ways, and they became more cognizant of the "symbolic violence" that bioarchaeology can cause to people, both past and present (Geller and Suri 2014:507). Similarly, awareness is growing of bioarchaeology's ability to reveal structural violence against marginalized populations in the past (Klaus 2012; Nystrom 2014; Stone 2012), as is the realization that non-collaborative research designs risk perpetuating these injustices. Accordingly, we echo Kakaliouras's (2017a) argument that the framing of collaboration should shift: from a right or benefit that descendant communities can choose to exercise, to a responsibility by which bioarchaeologists and other stakeholders are bound.

Recommendations for best practices in community partnership have been provided elsewhere (Buikstra 2006; Nicholas et al. 2008b). We focus here on those most successful in the case studies presented above, namely, ethnography and oral history. Building methods from (sub)disciplines to bioarchaeology, such as cultural anthropology and history, into research designs from the outset will ensure that the voices of "ethical clients" (Blakey 2008:21) are heard. This approach reinforces the importance of four-field anthropological training: whether they themselves learn how to employ ethnographic and/or oral history methods, or develop collegial relationships with those who specialize in them, it is crucial that bioarchaeologists become familiar with the value that these lines of evidence can add to their interpretations. In turn, cultural anthropologists and historians can become better informed about how bioarchaeologists' findings are relevant to their own research (cf. DeWitte 2015).

The case studies presented here illustrate how collaborative methods, when incorporated from the earliest stages of project design, can facilitate open communication and involvement between bioarchaeologists and additional stakeholders. This is particularly crucial when interested parties are numerous, diverse, and potentially have conflicting perspectives. Bioarchaeologists have known for decades that community partnerships can ensure not only more successful research outcomes but also more meaningful interpretations that resonate with those groups whose histories are being explored. Unfortunately, this secret has been rather well kept. Bioarchaeologists need to instigate a more robust dialogue about our community partnerships--both successes and failures--in order to make them a more standard part of disciplinary praxis. Once meaningful collaboration with stakeholders becomes normative, the visibility, inclusion, and relevance that result will sustain our relatively young discipline into the next generation of practitioners and beneficiaries.


A version of this commentary was first presented at the 2016 Western Bioarchaeology Group meeting. The authors are grateful to Brenda Baker and Sabrina Agarwal for the invitation to publish it here, and for their extremely helpful guidance and suggestions (as well as those of anonymous reviewers). Working with community collaborators has enriched the professional and personal lives of all of the authors. Long (Hebron case study) offers many sincere thanks to Bill Poe for sharing his experience with the AEH and the "warrior" skull. The Bear Flag Revolt case study is conducted with the approval of Sonoma State University's Institutional Review Board. Dinarte and Boutin thank Ray Owen, Bill Northcroft, and the property owners whose curiosity and generosity made their project possible. In addition to the participants cited above, Dinarte is grateful to Adolfo "Patrick" Garcia and everyone who shared their stories with him. The authors thank Sonoma State's Office of the Provost and School of Social Sciences for financial support of each of these projects. Many thanks to Marjorie Lear for Spanish translation of the article abstract.

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Alexis T. Boutin (a*), Madison Long (b), Rudy A. Dinarte (a) and Erica R. Thompson (a)

(a) Department of Anthropology, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave. Rohnert Park, CA, USA

(b) Department of Anthropology, East Carolina University, 231 Flanagan Building, East Fifth Street, Greenville, NC, USA

(*) Correspondence to: Alexis T. Boutin, Department of Anthropology, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave. Rohnert Park, CA, 94928, USA


Received 28 March 2017

Revised 04 August 2017

Accepted 18 September 2017

DOI: 10.5744/bi.2017.1011
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Author:Boutin, Alexis T.; Long, Madison; Dinarte, Rudy A.; Thompson, Erica R.
Publication:Bioarchaeology International
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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