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. These include the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, tribal historic preservation officers, and state historic preservation officers, to name a few. These two sections introduce the reader to the people and the agencies involved, and they provide a brief background to the laws and actions brought about in the last two centuries.
Chapter 4 delves into the specifics of federal law and practice by talking about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This act is the authority for managing impacts by the federal government on all aspects of the human environment (p. 51). King pays particular attention to the nuts and bolts of NEPA and how it affects cultural resource management. It concludes by presenting the African Burial Ground in New York City as a case study of how overlooking a culturally significant site and not following the correct procedure can cause a great deal of trouble.
The following chapters provide a narrower focus on cultural resource laws as opposed to the broader NEPA chapter. Chapter 5 presents an overview of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The chapter not only presents a history of the act but also explains the challenges of identifying historic properties and evaluation. This chapter also brings in real life examples as well as a case study, from northern California, known as the "GO Road," which King uses to demonstrate the systematic process of NHPA. Chapter 6, "Other Cultural Resource Authorities," concentrates on other laws that are specifically focused on particular aspects of the preservation process. Laws that he discusses include the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), and urban historic districts. The chapter talks in some detail about the different acts, their parts, and how they are used and effect cultural resource management.
The final section is titled "Bringing it All Together" and presents a general model of practical cultural resources management under current laws. Chapter 7 outlines the particular steps involved in the assessment process, beginning with scoping a project and then proceeding through implementation, mitigation, and eventually integrating the assessment into an Environmental Impact Assessment statement. Chapter 8 continues on this theme presenting a succinct discussion on Cultural Resource Management Plans and how to implement them. This section concludes with a thought-provoking chapter on the future of CRM. King has many concerns about the discipline and how it is run today but ultimately he is optimistic about the future of cultural resources management.
King's book is a beneficial book for people who are first experiencing cultural resource laws. It can be used as a valuable resource even for the veterans of cultural resource laws. This book provides an easy to read account of the laws and regulations that govern cultural resources management without beating you over the head with verbatim copies of the laws. The book is supported by examples and personal accounts of his many years of CRM and consultant work, which lends authenticity as well as a way to relate to the reader who may have been in a similar situation. It is at times, especially for those of us who have limited experience with cultural resource law, hard to keep track of the laws and their scope. However, King provides the reader with a text that makes it easy to discover what laws may be in play and how they affect your project. Overall, this is a useful book for archaeologists and preservationists, and I would recommend it for anyone interested in cultural resource management. It is a text that all people in this field should have on their shelves.
Kurt Perkins, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Justice Studies, University of Idaho, Moscow, Moscow, ID 83844