Natural Resources and Management

Cultural resources are the traces of all past activities and
accomplishments of people that includes designated historic districts,
archeological sites, buildings, structures, and objects. These also include less
tangible forms like aspects of folklife, traditional or religious practices, and
landscapes. These nonrenewable resources often yield unique information about
past societies and environments, and can provide answers for modern day social
and conservation problems.

a ship wreck
an arrowhead
a canon
an Indian campsite
Indian rock art
a tin can
a Victorian house
an historic mining town
an irrigation canal
a dam

All of these can be cultural resources. Cultural resources are the
physical remains of a people\'s way of life that archaeologists and historians
study to try to interpret how people lived. Cultural resources are important
because they help us to learn about our past. These tangible remains help us
understand other cultures, appreciate architecture and engineering, and learn
about past accomplishments. Furthermore, they offer educational and recreational
opportunities and provide links to our past.

People have lived in North America for at least 12,000 years.
Archaeologists and historians have divided this time span into prehistoric and
historic periods. The prehistoric period extends from the earliest arrival of
humans in North America to the coming of the European explorers. The historic
period begins with the arrival of these explorers and continues up to the

As you walk across public land, something on the ground catches your eye.
You pick up a piece of pottery or an arrowhead, wondering about the people who
made this artifact. Who were they? When did they live? How did they live?

If you return the artifact to where you found it, you have left in place
a clue that could help us answer these questions. If you take the artifact home
with you, or just move it to a different spot, you may have destroyed a clue to
the past. Each artifact is not merely something to be held and examined; it is
also a bit of information which, when taken together with other bits, allows us
to unravel the mysteries of the past.

The past that belongs to all of us. It is part of our heritage as
Americans and human beings. People who loot or vandalize archaeological or
historic sites are stealing not only artifacts, but irreplaceable information;
they are stealing our past.

People who deface or loot historical sites, disturb Indian burials, or
buy or sell grave goods can be fined or imprisoned under the Archaeological
Resources Protection Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,
and Department of the Interior regulations.

You can help protect America\'s precious cultural resources: Treat
historic and archaeological sites with care and respect when you visit. Take
only with your eyes and heart; leave them intact for your children\'s children.
If you see someone vandalizing or looting a site, notify the regional
archaeologist as soon as possible. Do not attempt to confront the vandal
yourself. Join your local or state archaeological or historical society. You
will learn more about the archaeology and history of your part of the country.
Many states have volunteer programs that allow people to be trained and work on
archaeological excavations.

Category: Social Issues