Posts Tagged ‘Sonya Atalay’

NAGPRA Page 12

Page from “Journeys To Complete The Work” – a comic about NAGPRA.

Later today, my most recent archaeological comics project – a comic about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act – will be the subject of a presentation at the Indigenous Storytelling and the Law symposium being held at the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

This project is a collaboration between myself, Sonya Atalay (U.Mass Amherst) and Jen Shannon (U. Colorado), and focuses on explaining NAGPRA law through the experiences of tribes, museum workers and scholars who have been involved in repatriations – both successful and less so. The comic is a demonstration of the way in which a visual narrative approach can not only make the complex legality of NAGPRA comprehensible, but provide a meaningful context for some of the preconceptions, public perceptions and prejudices that further complicate the issue of repatriation.

The comic that’s being presented by Jen and Sonya at the conference is ten pages which cover some introductory explanation about what NAGPRA is and how it works, and tells the story of a repatriation of material back to Anishiaabek tribes from museum collections held by the University of Michigan.

It’s something of a departure for me in terms of the focus of the story – less about explaining the process of excavation and research, and much more about how material is treated once it becomes part of a collection. But it focuses very much on things which I think comics can do exceptionally well in archaeology – issues which are difficult to explain without visual storytelling; issues which mix science, professional conduct and public response; issues which are shaped by – and shape – personal experience. I have long argued that these are exactly the kinds of stories which can be told in a particularly effective way through comics.

I’m sorry I can’t be at the conference myself, but I will be interested to hear the response to our project. We’ve got lots of ideas about how this comic could be used, etc. – and we’ve even got an interesting launch venue possibly lined up! I’ll be discussing all that and much more about the project in more detail as it evolves over the coming months.

“Journeys To Complete The Work” – A Comic about NAGPRA. Sonya Atalay, Jen Shannon, & John Swogger will be published this autumn.
“Indigenous Storytelling and the Law” symposium – Friday, March 17th, 1pm-5pm at UMC 235, Saturday, March 18th, 9am-6pm at Wolf Law; March 18 Special Session 4-5:30pm, reception to follow: Indian Country and the Trump Administration: Law, Policy, and Activism 

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Discovering archaeological comics...

Discovering archaeological comics…

In response to questions about where people can find the archaeological comics I talked about at Comics Forum, here’s a brief Who’s Who from my paper:

  • Sonya Atalay: Sonya’s book Community Based Archaeology: Research by, with and for Indigenous and Local Communities, mentions her work using comics with local children at Catalhoyuk; it also mentions the comic she and I did together in 2005.
  • Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas: His “Haida Manga” Red is also available online. His own site has more information about his art and other works, although not a huge amount about Haida Manga.
  • Shovel Bum: This collection of comics from Trent DeBoer‘s archaeological fanzine is still available from Alta Mira Press or via Amazon here in the UK. It also features comics by a number of other contributors, including Troy Lovata.
  • Hannah Sackett: Hannah’s wonderful archaeological artefact comics are collected on her Prehistories blog, where there are also links to her “Make Your Own Archaeological Oddities” on her etsy shop.
  • Al B. Wesolowsky: Al features in the “Cartoon College” documentary about the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Jct., Vermont. The DVD is out now, and makes an entertaining evening’s viewing.

As always, if there are other archaeologists out there making comics – get in touch!

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