Governor's Archaeology Advisory Commission (GAAC)

Please note that the Governor's Archaeology Advisory Commission was Sunseted by the Legislature, on July 1, 2020.


Arizona is a national leader in the development of Public Archaeology and Heritage Tourism programs. The Governor's Archaeology Advisory Commission (Commission) has played an important role in the development of Arizona's multi-component, award-winning educational programs in archaeology. The legislation creating the Commission was signed into effect by Governor Bruce Babbitt on March 26, 1985. The purpose of the Commission is to advise the State Historic Preservation Office on a variety of archaeological issues important to Arizona.

The Commission has assisted the SHPO in creating successful and unique public education programs, including Arizona Archaeology Awareness Month, the Archaeology Expo, and the Site Steward Program. The Commission is working with the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Arizona Humanities Council in promoting and expanding sensitive heritage tourism experiences. As part of this effort, the Commission has produced a document entitled "Guidelines for Archaeological Park Development" to assist public and private agencies in the appropriate and sensitive development of archaeological sites into interpretive public parks. The goal is to promote local economic development through archaeological heritage tourism, while fostering a stewardship ethic and the preservation of these irreplaceable archaeological and historical resources.

What GAAC Does

Established by the State Legislature in 1985, the Commission’s enabling legislation also directed it to promote archaeology and the development of a broad base of public support for historic preservation.The Commission has assisted the SHPO in developing and sustaining highly successful efforts including the nationally recognized Arizona Site Steward Program and the popular Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month activities, such as the annual Archaeology Exposition.The Commission has also advised the SHPO on developing public education guidelines, a statement of principles regarding cooperation between archaeologists and American Indian tribes, guidelines for archaeological excavations on private property, a report on the archaeological curation crisis in Arizona, and protection and management of archaeological resources along the international border.

Download Three Year Plan 2019-2021(130KB PDF)

Download Three Year Plan 2016-2018(81 KB PDF)

Research and Planning

Historic preservation rests on a foundation that is established through research and planning. Only through these activities can archaeological sites be located, identified evaluated and properly managed for the future. The ultimate rationale for preserving archaeological resources lies in the potential they offer for knowledge about our collective human past. The Commission is committed to research and planning for the purposes of archaeological site protection and management. To this end, the Commission will:

  • Continue to support the SHPO in developing National Register context studies to assist researchers and planners in determining National Register eligibility. The Commission will create a task force to organize context forums on topics to be selected by SHPO and Commission.
  • Support the development of Heritage Areas in Arizona to assist in the planning and protection of cultural resources including archaeological sites.
  • Support the continued development and maintenance of the multi-institutional AZSITE statewide cultural resource inventory as a primary tool for preservation planning.
  • Encourage local and tribal governments to undertake long-range planning to preserve critical archaeological resources.

Technical Training

Historic preservation law and regulation are the primary means by which archaeological sites are considered as a part of land use and development planning that affects both public and private property. It is critical that public agency officials with resource management responsibilities understand these laws and regulations in the state of Arizona. The Commission is committed to educating cultural resources professionals in historic preservation law and regulation. To that end, the Commission will:

  • Sponsor training programs for state agencies in historic preservation law and regulation.
  • Promote professional competency in the practice of archaeology in Arizona by encouraging archaeologists to become trained in historic preservation law and regulation on the national, state, and local levels.

Download GAAC Training Opportunities Survey Results HERE

Public Outreach and Education

Public outreach and education is a critical component of archaeological site protection in Arizona today.

Without an understanding of what the archaeological record represents, the public cannot be expected to appreciate that record, nor support the investment of public resources in its preservation for future generations. We owe it to our children to give them the opportunity of exploring the wonders Arizona's historic and prehistoric past. The Commission is committed to public outreach and education in the service of archaeological site protection. To that end, the Commission will:

  • Continue to support Archaeology Awareness & Heritage Month and the Archaeology Exposition by helping to plan for, publicize, and participate in related activities.
  • Continue to recognize people and organizations that have made a difference in protecting Arizona's rich archaeological heritage through an annual statewide awards program.
  • Participate in the annual historic preservation conference organized to highlight issues that include those relevant to archaeology and archaeological site protection.
  • Reissue the publication Presenting the Past to the Public: Guidelines for the Development of Archaeological Parks in Arizona, prepared by the Commission in 1998, to assist private landowners in creating and managing archaeological sites as educational and recreational facilities.
  • Continue to encourage voluntary preservation efforts by private landowners who are interested in protecting archaeological sites on their land. The Commission will work with the SHPO to disseminate information to the public about the importance of these kinds of voluntary activities.
  • Explore ways in which Arizona's archaeological heritage can become a more important component of K-12 curriculum.

Arizonans are blessed with a rich archaeological heritage that is the envy of the nation. Archaeological sites in such places as Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Homolovi State Park, and the city of Phoenix's Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park have become important public assets. The Commission is committed to promoting public preservation programs that are dedicated to the protection of the state's archaeological sites. To this end, the Commission will:

  • Continue to support the nationally recognized Arizona Site Stewards Program and promote its expansion.
  • Assist local governments, citizens, and archaeologist with planning efforts to identify the full range of archaeological sites in their communities.
  • Publicly highlight the status of threatened archaeological sites through notices released to the press and other media outlets as needed

GAAC Members

The statutory Commission is composed of 11 members with expertise in prehistoric or historic archaeology, anthropology and/or ethnography, as well as tourism, public education, economic development, business, and Native American affairs. Click HERE for the list of current GAAC members.

GAAC Agendas and Meetings

Click here for access to current and archived GAAC Agendas & Minutes

Click here for the Official Statement of Locations where GAAC Agendas are posted pursuant to the Open Meeting Law

GAAC Policy and Position Statements

Management of Cultural Resources Along the International Border.

Arizona's Curation Crisis

Private Land Survey Guidance Document

AZSITE Response Letter to Commission - Dec 19, 2019

Awards in Public Archaeology

As part of Arizona Archaeology Awareness Month each year, the Commission recognizes individuals and/or programs that have contributed time and energy to promoting the protection and preservation of, and education about, Arizona's non-renewable archaeological resources. These awards can include the following categories of individuals or organizations that are worthy of recognition for their public service / education endeavors: 1) professional archaeologists, 2) avocational archaeologists, 3) site stewards, 4) tribes, 5) private, non-profit entities, 6) government agencies, and 7) private or industrial development entities. In addition, the Commission would like to make an award to an individual for special or lifetime achievement. The award ceremony is held at the Historic Preservation Conference each year.

See List of Winners 1988 - 2020

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