Reflections on the Past 40 Years of Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest



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Butler reviews changes she has witnessed in the practice of archaeology in the Pacific Northwest since her 1975 field school at Lind Coulee. While enormous changes have occurred in technology (e.g., computers, GIS), analytic methods (e.g., aDNA, isotope geochemistry), and research questions and goals, the most profound change has been the increasing role of tribes and Indigenous peoples. Enlarging the scope of “who” does archaeology gives us new insights about our collective past, but also supports justice, equity and inclusion, values of increasing importance to society at large.

Biographical Information

Virginia Butler earned a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia, and an M.A in Anthropology and a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Washington. She joined the Department of Anthropology at Portland State University in 1995 and retired in 2020. Her primary research focuses on the long-term relationships between people and animals, especially fishes, which she has addressed mainly through zooarcheology. Her regional focus is the Pacific Northwest, but she has also carried out work in Oceania and the Great Basin of western North America. Since 2012, Butler has been the lead organizer of the Archaeology Roadshow, an annual large-scale public outreach event that takes place on PSU campus and sister communities in Oregon.



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Reflections on the Past 40 Years of Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest