ASU archaeologist appointed to NAGPRA federal advisory committee

February 21, 2019

Frank McManamon is an archaeologist who has devoted his career to guiding policy in a way that balances concerns about sensitive tribal cultural resources and the public benefits of historical and scientific scholarship and research.

In recognition of this work, he was recently appointed as a member of Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act's federal advisory committee. A photo of ASU research professor Francis P. McManamon Prior to becoming a research professor at ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change and founding director of the university’s Center for Digital Antiquity, Frank McManamon served as chief archaeologist of the National Park Service and in other positions deeply involved in developing guidance for public archaeology at the federal level. Download Full Image

Prior to becoming a research professor at Arizona State University's School of Human Evolution and Social Change and founding director of the university’s Center for Digital Antiquity, McManamon served as chief archaeologist of the National Park Service and in other positions deeply involved in developing guidance for public archaeology at the federal level.

These efforts included high-profile assignments such as providing technical assistance for the Kennewick Man case; advising on the New York City African Burial Ground project; and participating in a United States UNESCO delegation to address illegal artifact trafficking.

When the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act became federal law in 1990, McManamon was working as departmental consulting archaeologist for the Department of the Interior. He and his office were assigned to implement the new law for the secretary of the Interior.

“This allowed me to be involved in several aspects of the new law’s implementation, including drafting regulations, creating and organizing the new NAGPRA Review Committee, and overseeing the first 18 meetings of the seven-person committee, from 1992 all the way to 2000,” he said.

The law itself established — among other directives — a more comprehensive federal monitoring system for identification and repatriation of any culturally unidentifiable Native American remains (and associated funerary or sacred objects), as well protection for Native American graves and cultural items from archaeological sites on federal and tribal lands.

The secretary of the Interior, who ultimately oversees NAGPRA, is supported by a committee that compiles the ongoing inventory of remains and items, recommends specific actions for their disposition, and helps resolve conflicts that can’t be settled locally.

The group members also submit an annual report to Congress on their progress and on any barriers they encountered in carrying out the law.

“The committee does not bind the federal government, but its view and recommendations will be a very important consideration for any action that the secretary must take,” McManamon said.

The law requires that committee members come from diverse backgrounds, he said, with the secretary choosing three from nominations submitted by Native American, Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian groups and traditional religious leaders; three from nominations by national museum organizations and scientific organizations (of which McManamon is one); and one from a joint nomination by all other members.

Now, armed with additional insights from a distinguished career in academia and an accomplished record of preserving and sharing archaeological data at the helm of Digital Antiquity, McManamon is once again looking forward to “engaging in important NAGPRA policy matters, this time as a committee member.”

Aaron Pugh

Manager of Marketing and Communications, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Waste Management Phoenix Open offers invaluable real-life experience for ASU student

February 21, 2019

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is a golf event like no other, known for its record-breaking crowds and raucous revelry.

It’s the furthest thing from the quiet sanctuary of a law school library. Which, for Travis Smith, made it the perfect place to do some studying. Travis Smith ASU Law online student Travis Smith at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Download Full Image

Smith, a Navy veteran and first-year student at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, is working toward a career in the sports industry. And he was able to help manage this year’s tournament through a fellowship with Waste Management.

He served in an all-encompassing support role, helping coordinate with a marketing vendor and The Golf Channel, assisting with a VIP golf outing, shadowing zone supervisors for the 16th and 17th holes, monitoring command central, and helping manage the recycling and compost operations.

“It was a great experience where I got to see a little bit of everything,” Smith said. “It gave me insight that I wouldn’t otherwise have about managing a big sporting event, especially a unique event like this.”

The fellowship evolved from discussions between Sam Renaut, director of ASU Law’s Sports Law and Business program, and Waste Management Vice President Scott Bradley. Both organizations put a high priority on expanding opportunities for veterans.

Smith is among the inaugural students in ASU Law’s Veterans Sports Law and Business program. Launched in 2018, the 30-credit online program offers a Master of Legal Studies degree and is designed specifically for veterans and active-duty military personnel looking to transition into the sports industry.

“We launched VSLBVeterans Sports Law and Business as a way to help military personnel find purpose and meaning in their careers,” Renaut said. “Discovering their ‘why’ through hands-on experiences and in-class learning is critical to their transition back to civilian life, and we could not have asked for a better partner in providing such an opportunity.”

The program aligns perfectly with the corporate culture at Waste Management.

“We have a very veteran-friendly environment here,” said Jennifer Rivera, company communications director. “A good portion of our employees are veterans, and we thought this would be an interesting opportunity for veterans in the ASU program to get some behind-the-scenes access.”

Real-world training

ASU Law’s Veterans Sports Law and Business program is designed to make the most of veterans’ military skills, providing access to world-class learning environments in the sports world, while providing as much flexibility as possible for students who may still be working full time or continuing their service.

“I was grateful and excited about this opportunity,” said Smith, who lives in Maryland and flew in for the tournament. “The biggest thing I’m lacking is actual experience. I currently have a full-time job and a lot of things to juggle, so I can’t really do a full six-month internship. This was a perfect opportunity for me to get some meaningful experience.”

In the Navy, Smith helped manage big events, such as fly-ins and homecomings from deployment. But nothing quite like the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“Friday morning I was over at The Players Course,” he said. “It was 6 a.m. when I showed up, and the fans were already packed in long lines and chanting. I’ve never seen anything like that, not even for a big football game with a noon kickoff.”

And the 16th hole made for a memorable assignment.

“There were people on one side dressed up like Big Bird and other Sesame Street characters,” he said. “It was a surreal scene, for sure. It was kind of a combination of a rock concert and a football tailgate, because they’ll be there two hours before the first group of golfers come by.”

Throughout the tournament, most of the challenges had to do with sheer size: both of the crowd and the course itself.

“We had to bounce around, getting from Point A to Point B, escorting VIPs and just maneuvering around the course,” Smith said. “And you have the added challenge on the operations side of managing a large team of temporary workers.”

He was impressed with the calm demeanor of the Waste Management organizers, most of whom have worked at the tournament for years. Smith said the confidence from their experience and trust in their preparation was evident.

Waste Management’s Rivera said that underscores the value of the fellowship.

“As a potential employer, I would highly value this kind of experience, because I think it shows a real-world understanding of what it takes to put on a tournament of this size and a demonstrated ability to operate in such a high-stress environment,” she said. “You have to be structured and flexible at the same time when working with such large crowds, so it’s an interesting balance between the two.”

It was exactly what Smith was looking for.

“I learned a lot, and I had some fun watching golf,” he said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to get an up-close look at the operations of such a unique event.”

Lauren Dickerson

Marketing and communications coordinator, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law