Cultural Resource Laws and Practice: An Introductory Guide, 2nd Edition

By Perkins, Kurt | Southeastern Archaeology, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Cultural Resource Laws and Practice: An Introductory Guide, 2nd Edition


Perkins, Kurt, Southeastern Archaeology


Cultural Resource Laws and Practice: An Introductory Guide, 2nd Edition. THOMAS F. KING. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2004. 384 pp., figs., biblio., appendices, index. $26.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7591-0474-3; $72.00 (cloth), 978-0-7591-0474-7.

Reviewed by Kurt Perkins

Who can tell me what a MFASAQHE is? Those who have no idea what this means are not alone, it stands for Major Federal Action Significantly Affecting the Quality of the Human Environment. For any archaeologists or other cultural resource professionals that had trouble with this term or any others that deal with cultural resource law, Thomas King's Cultural Resource Laws & Practice: An Introductory Guide (second edition) is a resource worth looking into. The volume is part of the Heritage Resources Management Series through the University of Nevada, Reno, edited by Don Fowler and printed through Altamira Press.

King takes the subject of cultural resource law and produces a very readable text. He does this by spelling out the laws and practices and by integrating examples as well as some of his own experiences. The book is primarily about federal laws and the regulations, standards, and guidelines that deal with the issue of cultural resources (p. 4). However, this is not the only subject in the book. King also addresses problems within the federal laws as well as their implementation.

Cultural resource law can be a difficult maze to follow, especially when one has very little experience navigating through federal laws (let alone state and local ones). King's work describes the major cultural resource legislation so that it is easy to understand. He also identifies which laws and regulations are applicable to certain projects as well as how one might go about preparing the documentation and reports in order to comply with particular laws.

The audience for this book includes students and archaeologists who have had little to no experience with cultural resource management. It is meant for those who have just entered the world of CRM and have only limited knowledge of the laws that govern cultural resources. However, those unfamiliar with the subject may find the acronyms, abbreviations, and laws to be a bit overwhelming and confusing. King easily solved this problem by compiling Appendix 1: a quick and easy guide to all of the acronyms, abbreviations, and terms used, and Appendix 2: definitions for several of the terms used throughout the book.

The book is broken down into three sections, the first of which is called "Background and Overview," which consists of three chapters. The second section, "Law and Practice," consists of chapters 4 to 6, and the third and final section is titled "Bringing is all Together," which also consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 outlines the purpose of the book, specifically to help make sense of the laws and regulations that deal with cultural resources. It covers subjects such as what are cultural resources, compliance challenges, the social impact of cultural resources management, and concludes with the first of many topical personal reflections that are interspersed throughout the rest of the book. King devotes several pages to a section he calls "It Depends," words, he explains, that are "two of the most common words you'll find in this book (p. 15)." This is due to the fact that there are few hard-and-fast rules in CRM and everything in CRM depends on something else. Even though this phrase appears often, King does a good job of explaining its complexities and how there are few open-ended ambiguities in the book.

Chapter 2 summarizes the history of cultural resource laws within the United States. King begins the brief history in 1800 and carries it through to the present day. The chapter includes séchons on the National Historic Preservation Act, the birth of CRM, ARPA, and how the laws and regulations changed by decade and presidency. Chapter 3, "The Players," talks about various federal agencies that enact as well as follow federal laws and guidelines. …

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