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EHEI Award: Educational and Training Programs

WSDOT Cultural Resources Training

Photo of people spread across a field in a line
Participants at the WSDOT Cultural Resources Training
learning how to perform historic fieldwork
Source: WSDOT

Photo of a couple of men leaning down to look into a old root cellar
Participants of the WSDOT Cultural Resources
Training examine a historic root cellar Source: WSDOT

Photo of a man demonstrating flint knapping
Flint knapping demonstration at the
WSDOT Cultural Resources Training
Source: WSDOT

Washington

For more than a decade, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has organized a three and one-half day cultural resources training for its employees, as well as Tribal, Federal, State, and local agencies. This bi-annual training conference offers guidance on regulations relating to Tribal resources and practices. WSDOT's training works to support Washington's strong Tribal heritage through knowledge-building programs that promote understanding and preservation of Tribal history and culture.

The cultural resources training has long been recognized as comprehensive and inclusive. The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission first established the training in 1996. WSDOT joined this partnership in 2000 and has managed and coordinated the training since that time. More than 1,300 trainees have participated in the event since its inception. The training reaches far beyond Washington's borders, with participants coming from a variety of places in the Western U.S. and Canada.

By drawing interest from both within and outside of the State, WSDOT's training has continued throughout the years despite monetary and travel constraints. Demonstrating flexibility and innovative thinking, WSDOT has maintained the program in light of these setbacks by shifting location sites and modifying presenter contracts.

WSDOT's training combines broad overviews and in-depth sessions to further participants' knowledge of cultural resource regulations and practices. The training traditionally begins with general discussions on Tribal issues, history, and archaeology. As the training progresses, topics become more detailed, focusing on Federal and State regulations, local laws, and best practices. The training often integrates presentations with field trips to significant Tribal sites and historic structures, demonstrations of Tribal tools and artifact preservation, and case studies of current issues and projects.

WSDOT recognizes the importance of having a strong Tribal presence as part of its cultural resources training. Tribal elders and cultural resources staff frequently attend the multi-day event in order to present topics, lead discussions, and provide insight into the preservation of Tribal culture and stewardship. In doing so, WSDOT aims to ensure that the training is reflective of Tribal interests and advances the appropriate avenues for education on cultural resources.

For more information, contact Scott Williams, Washington State Department of Transportation at willias@wsdot.wa.gov.

Updated: 07/11/2012
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