A REPLY TO Brian DaRe's "SHARE PROGRAM"

Al Tonetti

Ohio Archaeological Council © 2002

At the November 17, 2001, Ohio Archaeological Council membership meeting, avocational archaeologist Brian DaRe presented a paper titled "Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Archaic Period Settlement Patterns for Eastern Ohio." In his paper, presented above, Brian asks for the help of the OAC and its members in establishing a "Share Program," the purpose of which is to forge cooperation between local collectors, avocational archaeologists, and professional archaeologists in eastern Ohio in the pursuit of archaeological research, outreach and public education.

I believe few of us would argue with this goal. However, attaining that goal for eastern Ohio and the rest of the state will be difficult. As a Trustee of the OAC and one who agrees with Brian's goal, I want to briefly discuss a few of the challenges in establishing such a program. I hope that other members will reply with their opinions.

I want to thank Brian for his initiative and his passion for archaeology. On a more personal note, I want to thank Brian for his cooperation when I was Archaeological Survey Manager at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO). During my last few years at OHPO, Brian submitted a number of Preliminary Documentation Forms (PDFs) for archaeological sites that he had found or knew about. PDFs are primarily used by collectors and avocational archaeologists to report archaeological sites to OHPO. PDFs contain basic information about site location, site size, artifacts collected, components represented, and the person reporting this information.

In his paper, Brian briefly describes artifacts from some of the sites he recorded on PDFs. Around 1990, approximately 10% of all archaeological sites recorded in the Ohio Archaeological Inventory with OHPO were submitted on PDFs, the vast majority of which were submitted by OAC member Dr. Jeb Bowen as a result of his extensive collaboration with collectors and avocational archaeologists throughout the state. Recording such information with OHPO helps agency and contract archaeologists involved in Section 106 projects in planning archaeological investigations that may affect the recorded sites. Sites that are not recorded with OHPO may go undetected or not receive proper consideration.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to Brian's "Share Program" is the lack of archaeologists working in the area of his interest, Jefferson County. I do not know how to resolve this matter. If we could clone Jeb Bowen, with his permission of course, perhaps that would suffice. Perhaps there is another way.

Some states have archaeological outreach programs designed to develop a core group of professionally competent regional avocational archaeologists. Unfortunately, Ohio is not one of those states. When I worked at OHPO, I drafted a proposal for a statewide archaeological outreach program for Ohio. I discussed the proposal with other archaeologists at the Ohio Historical Society (OHS), including Jeb Bowen, and their response was favorable. However, due to other budgetary priorities within OHPO and OHS, the proposal was not acted upon. Given the current conservative economic climate and priorities within OHS, OHPO, and the Ohio General Assembly, instituting such a program in the near future is unrealistic, though such a program is within the mandate of OHS as defined in Ohio Revised Code section 149.30(M), "taking inventory, in cooperation with the Ohio Arts Council, the Ohio Archaeological Council, and the Archaeological Society of Ohio, of significant designated and undesignated state and local sites and keeping an active registry of all designated sites within the state."

Recently, the OAC submitted testimony encouraging the development of such a program before the House Select Committee Studying the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships (see Legislative committee report). However, the Select Committee's final report did not include a recommendation for doing so. Ohio's archaeological community, including collectors, avocationals and professionals, has much work to do to identify, evaluate and conserve important archaeological resources in this state. However, until we develop better personal and organizational relationships, and can collectively speak as an effective voice to our representatives in the General Assembly and our colleagues at OHS and OHPO, we are unlikely to succeed in developing an effective archaeological outreach program in Ohio. Good luck, Brian.