Decolonizing collaborative inquiry at the Absaroka Agency : a phenomenological examination of the 2011 collaborative archaeological events occurring at the site of the 2nd Crow Agency

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


This transcendental phenomenological study examines three collaborative archaeological events that occurred at the site of the former "Absaroka" (Crow) Agency (1975 - 1884), during the 2011 summer excavation. The June 4th 3 Tipi Day, the July 8th Absaroka Agency Volunteer Day, and the August 2nd Crow Elders Day, are each examined primarily through interviews conducted with key collaborators and participants, with an emphasis on uncovering the decolonizing qualities of the events. Interviews consisted of three basic questions: 1) How did the events at the Absaroka Agency reflect and exemplify collaborative archaeological inquiry and decolonizing research methodologies? 2) What did you experience at the Absaroka Agency? 3) What did the experience mean to you? Analysis of interview data included the highlighting of significant statements and the contextualizing of those statements within a table that highlighted the three essential characteristics of decolonizing collaborative research methodologies. The conclusions and final discussion are interpreted from the researcher's perspective as an embedded participant-observer and member of the Crow Tribe. The emerging and swiftly growing field of Collaborative Indigenous Archaeology is still in the early stages of intellectual and practical development, and more scholarship is needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of the central issues still being resolved within the field. One essential and multi-faceted problem lies at the heart of this developing field; what does the decolonization of collaborative archaeology look, smell, sound, taste, and feel like? This study explores how the collaborative events at the Absaroka Agency answered that complex question, and it also addresses two prominent research gaps in the field; a scarcity of research and publication by indigenous researchers and a lack of literature about collaborative archaeology with northern plains tribes, such as the Crow Tribe. This study provides relevant information about collaborative inquiry and decolonizing research methodologies to an extensive group of participating partners, including federal, state, and tribal organizations. The findings also provide an informative guide for future scholars who seek to engage in similar collaborative research methodologies.




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