Date Posted: December 17, 2013 Categories:49 History
Editor’s note: The following letter was sent earlier this month by AHS Vice President Anjuli Grantham to Gary Knell and David Lyle, the CEOs of National Geographic Society and National Geographic Channels, respectively. Please read the letter and consider signing an online petition asking National Geographic and Spike TV networks to stop airing (or at least add a statement of caution to) the show “Diggers.” As Grantham’s letter points out, the show encourages amateur treasure hunters to disturb and potentially loot historic and archaeological sites. The petition is available here:www.change.org/petitions/the-national-geographic-channel-the-travel-channel-spike-tv-stop-airing-their-digger-programs-3
Dear Mr. Lyle:
I am writing on behalf of the Alaska Historical Society’s Board of Directors. We are a board comprised of historians, archivists, anthropologists, and educators, and similar to National Geographic, we are dedicated to advancing both scholarship about, and stewardship towards, our shared heritage.
It is due to the National Geographic Society’s history of espousing the values of scholarship and stewardship that we are dismayed by the show, Diggers. We understand that the show’s producers have consulted with archaeologists, yet nonetheless, the take away message for viewers is that metal detecting is a non-destructive activity. This is not the case, and this is not in line with the National Geographic’s own history. National Geographic is an organization trusted for its professional ethics. In fact, National Geographic expeditions have uncovered rich archaeological finds and introduced the public to these discoveries in a manner that encourages both stewardship and respect. As a result, we contend that Diggers is not within the ethos of the National Geographic brand.
Without a serious effort to educate viewers about the legal, scientific, and ethical repercussions of amateur digging, the show is training individuals to vandalize and ransack our cultural heritage. For these reasons, the board of directors of the Alaska Historical Society asks that National Geographic include a warning at the beginning and end of each show, telling viewers about the negative consequences of metal detecting. Moreover, we ask that you use Diggersas an opportunity to educate viewers about cultural resource management and the laws and practices that professionals adhere to. This way, viewers will understand that it is illegal to dig on public land and that it causes irreparable damage if done without the guidance of a trained archaeologist.
Please work to ensure the protection and measured study of cultural and historic sites rather than their destruction. We encourage you to continue to advance the value of stewardship by including statements against looting and vandalism in each show.