Spring 2017: By Tamara Jager Stewart.

In the late 1980s, while working in Wisconsin, Lynne Goldstein, now archaeology professor and director of the Campus Archaeology Program at Michigan State University, served on a panel working to assess Wisconsin’s historic preservation laws. “A wide range of changes were proposed and passed—with bipartisan support—and Wisconsin had some of the best overall preservation laws and policies in the country,” recalled Goldstein. The state adopted a highly effective and innovative burial law.

Nearly thirty years later, when a politically-connected developer proposed building on land containing documented burials, the governor and others pushed to change the state burial law. “Fortunately, enough people—including Native American tribes—pushed back, and the changes were halted, at least temporarily,” Goldstein said, though a study committee continues to review the law.

Nationwide attempts to weaken historic preservation and burial laws have been accompanied by funding cuts for archaeology programs, museums, and historic sites, as well as state and federal archaeological positions. “We are already losing a huge amount of institutional knowledge about the archaeological record, and now we are losing the positions and any possible transfer of that knowledge,” said Lynne Sebastian, the former director of historic preservation programs with the non-profit SRI Foundation and the former New Mexico State Archaeologist.

 “There have been budget cuts in most state offices across the Midwest, leaving staffing of preservation offices at a bare minimum,” said Goldstein. She noted a trend in the last five to ten years toward government officials and the public devaluing archaeology and historic preservation, and resisting state and federal mandates that protect cultural resources.


Read More in our SPRING 2017 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 20 No. 4. Browse Content of this Issue: SPRING 2017. Browse Articles Excerpts from our last issue, WINTER 16-17.

American Archaeology Magazine is available on newsstands and at bookstores.  Annual Subscriptions are available by becoming a Member of the Archaeological Conservancy for a Donation of $30 dollars .

Click To Explore Our Online Bonus Images For The Story:


  1. I haven’t received your magazine for a while and wonder if my membership has lapsed. Can you check and let me know? My name is Peggy Backup, at Ukiah, CA. I’d like to receive back issues once I have paid for membership.
    I just received a letter from you re the Terrarium site in Mendocino County. I know people in this area. Can you release the names of the land owners? Is it OK to spread word and try to gather more funds for purchase of the easement?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Peggy,
      I spoke with our membership director and she said you had been in contact and are all set on the magazine side.

      Thank you for your interest in helping with fundraising for the Terrarium site! It would be best to contact our Western Region and talk with our regional director about who he may be working with in the area for fundraising for this site and how you may be of help. Western Regional Office- Cory D. Wilkins, Regional Director, tac-west@comcast.net, (530) 592-9797,(916) 424-6240

      All the Best,


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.