“We were all born equal, and our birthplace was Africa. Whoever we are, wherever we live, whatever language we speak, whatever our customs and beliefs, whatever the color of our skin, at some point in the last two million years our ancestors lived in Africa.”
From The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire, by Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus (Harvard University Press, 2012, p. 3)
The University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology hereby affirms its support for the Black Lives Matter movement. For nearly 100 years, we have studied the human past, including the origins of the racist institutions that plague our society, and allowed the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, through time and across the globe.
In their honor, and with deeply felt hope for a better future, we hereby commit to:
1) Listen. To diverse voices, in archaeology, throughout the academy, and amongst the public;
2) Speak. Loudly, in protest, when inequalities touch our museum and university community;
3) Act. Using our research for the good of all people, to help bring understanding and change;
4) Steward. Carefully and with reverence, the artifacts under our care, many of which bear witness to colonial oppressions; and
5) Remember. That the University of Michigan is located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe people. That in 1817, the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadami Nations made the largest single gift to the early University, when they ceded land through the Treaty at the Foot of the Rapids so that their children could be educated. And that through these words of acknowledgment, their contemporary and ancestral ties to the land and their contributions to the University are renewed and reaffirmed.
As anthropological archaeologists, we study those “networks of mutuality,” which for time immemorial have bound us, one to the other, and to our ancestors. We trace their comings and goings, their origins and endpoints, and we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these networks are, in fact, historically fragile and well worth fighting for. Now is the time to work with intention, good faith, courage, and perseverance to ensure that all people everywhere are treated with respect and dignity, so that the equality that once, though fleetingly, marked the human race can be realized yet again.
Michael L. Galaty, Director
Museum of Anthropological Archaeology