Preserving Cultural Heritage

Anthropological Studies Center Receives Governor's Award with Caltrans and Kashaya Pomo Tribe
December 19, 2016
Group from Sonoma State University and others receiving award

Members of Sonoma State University, Caltrans and the Kashaya Pomo tribe receive the Governor's Historic Preservation Award in Sacramento on Nov. 10

After receiving an award from the Governor's office, Sonoma State University’s Anthropological Studies Center is being hailed as a model for government agencies in preserving Native American cultural heritage in other states and at the federal level.

Along with Caltrans and the Kashaya Pomo tribe, the Center has received the 2016 Governor's Historic Preservation Award for the Kashaya Pomo Cultural Landscape Project, a multi-year community based study conducted by Caltrans, the Kashaya Pomo tribe, Sonoma State University, and project partner California State Parks. The project was initiated in 2008 and completed in May 2015.

"This is a new way to think about heritage management," says Sonoma State Anthropology Professor Margaret Purser. "Now we have agencies up to the level of the federal government asking to be allowed to use the material as a model to conduct these kinds of projects."

The project documented the Kashaya Pomo tribal cultural landscape as living heritage and identified ways to incorporate Kashaya values and stewardship practices into heritage management practices by state agencies. It included analysis of how the Kashaya landscape is maintained as living heritage at the scale of the community, the family, and the individual. The coastal area is near Fort Ross, 60 miles north of Sonoma State University.

"This insight into the dynamic and culturally specific ways that Kashaya tribal members link and perpetuate their traditional places, narratives, and activities formed the basis for a culturally sustainable heritage management plan," says Mary Praetzellis, associate director of the Anthropological Studies Center. From study results, plans for a Kashaya heritage driving tour and walking trail were developed for the enrichment of all who visit the Sonoma Coast.

The Center routinely works with state agencies on projects requiring anthropological site surveys and excavations, including several Native American sites. According to Purser, the university is unique in its approach. "Sonoma State pioneered this idea that when you're developing a project in a tribal area, you ask people in that tribe in that area to be part of that planning," she says. This approach was developed in the 1970s by ASC founder Dr. David Fredrickson. National laws requiring this consultation were not written until 1990.

Katherine Dowdall, Caltrans' lead archeologist on the project, is an alumna of Sonoma State's Anthropology Department. This collaborative work between the Kashaya Pomo tribe and SSU’s Anthropology Department and Anthropological Studies Center has been developing since the 1970s. This is the Center's second Governor’s Award (the first was in 1999).

The honor was bestowed at a ceremony in Sacramento on Nov. 10. This the only official preservation award presented by the State of California in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of historic preservation. The Kashaya Pomo tribe was the lead on this project, and three of the 12 total awards given out this year went to Native American Tribes. This year marked the first time Native American tribes were honored with this award.

About the Anthropological Studies Center

The Sonoma State University Anthropological Studies Center has been assisting environmental firms, nonprofit organizations, private property owners, and government agency clients with cultural resources issues since 1974. The Center offers a proven team with the ability to undertake a wide range of complex cultural resources management tasks.

The team is notable for the depth of its experience and training, with 13 salaried and hourly employees with M.A. or higher degrees, and nine Registered Professional Archaeologists with specialties in prehistoric and historical archaeology among the senior staff.

Media Contact

Nicolas Grizzle