Register of Professional Archaeologists Standards Board
the Complaint Against
Dr. Gordon C. Tucker, Jr., RPA
In 1998 and 1999, Dr. Gordon C. Tucker, Jr., then working for Golder Associates, Inc., was the Principal Investigator for archaeological investigations at the Semiahmoo site (45WH17). This site, a historically documented village of the Lummi Tribe, included an extensive cemetery and today continues to be a place of great significance to the Lummi Tribe. The archaeological investigation consisted of a mitigation excavation, followed by monitoring of construction activities. The archaeological monitoring portion of the investigation and associated construction project were prematurely brought to a halt and several lawsuits were filed. The Lummi Tribe and the Association of Washington Archaeologists filed a complaint against Dr. Tucker with the Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), alleging numerous violations of the Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance. This Decision details the results of the complaint process and the formal investigation into this matter.
In the following sections, a detailed history of the archaeological project is presented to establish the context of the allegations. This is followed by a brief history of the case as it proceeded through the RPA Grievance procedure. Then the Findings of the Standards Board with respect to each allegation identified in the Grievance Committee’s Formal Complaint are discussed. This Decision concludes with a statement of Disciplinary Action imposed upon Dr. Tucker.
In 1996, the City of Blaine in Whatcom County, Washington, proposed to expand and upgrade its existing wastewater treatment plant located on the Semiahmoo Spit in order to meet the City’s needs over the next twenty years. The existing plant was known to be located within an important prehistoric village site, 45WH17, where past archaeological investigations had revealed a stratified shell midden site dating from 4,200 years ago to the ethnohistoric period, and where dozens of human burials had been recovered. The site was known to be important to the local Lummi Tribe.
Funding for the sewage plant expansion was provided in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency (Rural Development). This federal funding required Rural Development to comply with various federal statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Specifically, the project would need to comply with Section 106 of the NHPA, which would require evaluating the archaeological site for National Register eligibility, and if eligible, mitigating any adverse effects associated with the construction.
The City of Blaine hired a cultural resource consulting firm, Larson Anthropological Archaeological Services (Larson), from Gig Harbor, Washington, to conduct the initial assessment in June 1996 (Larson 1996). This assessment described what was known about the archaeological site and cemetery and detailed the previous archaeological work that had been done there. Most insightful was the information from the project associated with the original construction of the wastewater plant in 1977, in which archaeologists from Western Washington University recovered 40 burials (9 complete and 31 partial) in the portion of a Native American cemetery within the wastewater plant boundaries and 20 burials outside the boundary (Grabert, Cressman, and Wolverton 1978). According to Lummi Tribal members, a white fence once surrounded the cemetery with graves marked with crosses. The human remains were eventually returned to the Lummi Tribe for reburial (Larson 1996:6). Larson attempted to tie the previous excavations to the current plant location, and to assess the degree of disturbance of different site areas.
The Larson report commented that the Lummi believe that parts of individuals and entire individuals were still buried at the site and indicated their preference for no further disturbance (Larson 1996:6). Larson suggested that the site was eligible for listing on the National Register because the site had potential to address research questions important to regional prehistory, and because it possessed important cultural heritage values to members of the Lummi Indian Nation (Larson 1996:10). Larson provided recommendations for archaeological mitigation and monitoring in different types of cultural deposits, in areas where the deposits could not be avoided during future construction.
On December 15, 1997, The Washington State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Agency (Rural Development) that it would need to evaluate the site for National Register eligibility and prepare a memorandum of agreement or programmatic agreement to mitigate adverse effects resulting from construction activities.
In April 1998, the City of Blaine awarded a contract to Golder Associates (Golder), an international group of earth engineering and environmental science consulting companies, to consult with affected parties, prepare a treatment plan, submit a draft programmatic agreement to affected parties, and execute the treatment plan (Golder 1998). The Golder work was designed and directed by Gordon C. Tucker, an archaeologist from Golder’s Denver Office. Tucker had completed his B.A. degree in anthropology at Western Washington University in 1972, but had conducted almost all of his cultural resource work outside of the Pacific Northwest since that time. He had virtually no experience with Northwest Coast archaeology, shell middens, human remains, consultation, or with Native Americans. The contract was for $14,500 for tribal consultation and $41,000 for the mitigation of 45WH17; funding for construction monitoring was estimated at $450/day and a contract modification would be submitted at the appropriate time.
Based upon the information provided in the Larson report (1996), Golder obtained a consensus determination of eligibility for 45WH17 on May 11, 1998 (Whitlam 1998). Golder conducted geophysical studies at the site on May 11-13, 1998; these studies “clearly delineated the location and depths of compacted fill deposits, located target anomalies, and identified utility lines” (Tucker 1999a:1). Golder then started preparing a draft Programmatic Agreement, which Rural Development circulated to the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer, the City of Blaine, and “interested parties.
The next draft of the Programmatic Agreement was renamed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and became the legal document guiding the cultural resource work at the Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant. The MOA outlined the mitigative actions agreed to by the three signatories in order to address the adverse effects of the wastewater treatment facility expansion on site 45WH17. The MOA was signed by Rural Development on January 19, 1999; the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer on January 26, 1999; and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on February 3, 1999 (Rural Development 1999).
An important aspect of developing the MOA was consulting with the Lummi. The intent of Rural Development was for the Lummi and the City of Blaine to be concurring parties to the MOA. Golder was to conduct the face-to-face consultation with affected parties, primarily the Lummi. Consultation with the Lummi, however, did not result in the Lummi actively participating in the development of the MOA as was hoped. Eventually, the Lummi signed the earlier draft, referred to as the Programmatic Agreement, but this was after the Rural Development had decided to proceed with the MOA without the Lummi as a signatory (Andrew 1999).
The key parts of the final MOA were 1) preparation and implementation of a treatment plan, which outlined mitigation of adverse effects on 45WH17; 2) preparation and implementation of a site protection plan, which called for monitoring during construction, regular reporting, and actions to be taken if previously unidentified archaeological properties were discovered during construction; 3) guidelines on curation, which outlined the role of the Lummi in disposition of cultural materials; 4) handling of Native American human remains, which required consultation with the Lummi Tribe if any human remains were encountered, and referred to the dispute resolution process contained in the MOA if objections were raised; 5) professional qualifications, which required supervisors to meet or exceed the Secretary of Interior’s Professional Qualifications/Standards (Federal Register 48 :44738-44739]; and 6) dispute resolution, which outlined the process that would be used if any of the parties could not agree on a particular action.
The Treatment Plan (Golder 1999) was included as an attachment to the MOA (Rural Development 1999). This was a substantive document over forty pages in length, with an attached 20-page appendix detailing the results of the geophysical investigations, which had been completed in May 1998. The Treatment Plan provided a description of the Project, environmental setting, and cultural setting extracted mainly from the initial assessment prepared by Larson Anthropological Archaeological Services (Larson 1996). Research issues to be addressed during the archaeological investigations were presented in five paragraphs, the most substantive being the following:
Further archaeological investigations at the site will, therefore, focus upon its role in a regional and subsistence pattern which may have some temporal persistence. From a scientific standpoint, there is still much to be learned from the site. According to the ethnographic/ethnohistoric record, this area was a major village site; however, to date, researchers have been unable to locate or analyze any structural remains that may be associated with previous occupations. Investigating a house feature at this site would provide insights into house construction and social organization [Golder 1999:23].Another focus was to locate human remains that might be present andImplement the most expeditious and culturally sensitive procedures to protect them from further harm. At the very least, such procedures will include ongoing and close consultation with the Lummi [Golder 1999:23].
Final research issues identified were the need to monitor construction activities to “help insure that unanticipated discoveries are properly documented and evaluated” and the need for a protection plan to ensure that protocols for treatments of cultural resources in the protected area have been established (Golder 1999:23).
The Treatment Plan then identified methods to be used throughout the project. Key points in each section relevant to this report are provided below:
Š Phase 1 Consultation: Consultation with the Lummi was recognized as paramount because the site might be considered a traditional cultural property and because it was likely to contain more human burials. The plan was to approach consultation in three steps: introductory meetings, discussions and then collaboration, which “incorporates the consultation required during on-site excavations” (Golder 1999:23). The MOA would be executed after the consultations.Š Phase 2: Field Investigations: Using information gained from the earlier geophysical investigations, archaeological investigations would involve two aspects. First, two intersecting backhoe trenches would be excavated, one 25 meters long and the other 7 meters long, to “clarify the stratigraphic relationships between disturbed fill and undisturbed deposits and to characterize the composition of the fill” (Golder 1999:27). Backhoe excavations would be monitored by at least one professional archaeologist and stratigraphic profiles along one wall of each trench would be drawn and photographed.The second aspect of the archaeological mitigation was to excavate up to twenty 1 m by 1 m excavation units where the backhoe trenching indicated would be most appropriate. Methods would involve standard archaeological techniques; shovels would be used in low density units.In the event that human remains were encountered during the backhoe or hand excavations, “all work will temporarily cease around those remains. RD, the Lummi, SHPO, and City will immediately be contacted and the agreed-upon procedures for the treatment of these remains will be implemented (Section 5.6)” (Golder 1999:23).Š Phase 3: Construction Monitoring. The purpose of the construction monitoring was to ensure that significant cultural materials were recognized and properly documented if encountered during construction. If cultural materials were identified, construction work in the area would cease and the find exposed and mapped in plan view by the archaeologist. Features and structural remains would be bisected, one-half removed, and sketched and photographed. “If the find consists of human remains of any sort, the RD, Lummi, SHPO, and City will be contacted immediately and the remains will be treated according to established protocol (Section 5.6)” (Golder 1999:29).Š Phase 4: Laboratory Analysis. This section contained one paragraph on artifacts, one on dating, one on osteological remains and twelve on faunal remains. Human remains would be treated as follows:
Analyses of human osteological remains, if recognized in the fill, will be completed in situ. This method will have the added advantage of not removing the burials from the general site area and avoiding excessive handling of the remains, thus preventing unnecessary damage to fragile elements. Where permissible, standard osteological measurements will be completed on all elements. Gender analysis and age determinations will be undertaken using both quantitative and qualitative analyses. Remains will also be closely examined for various bone and tooth pathologies. The remains will be exhumed from the ground and transported to a secure City facility and held there until their final destination is determined. All human remains will be handled with the utmost respect and sensitivity [Golder 1999:23].
Š Phase 5: Reporting. Archaeological investigations would be documented in several reports, as described below:
Upon completion of fieldwork [i.e., the backhoe trenching and 20 excavation units], a preliminary report will be prepared that describes the results of the geophysical and archaeological investigations. All interested parties will review this report, and if accepted, then approval will be sought for the pre-loading to commence.
A final, more detailed report would then be prepared conforming in style and content to the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for Archaeological Documentation. Results of the construction monitoring would be incorporated into the final report [Golder 1999:35].
Š Treatment of Human Remains. Human remains had been found at Site 45WH17 previously and procedures were developed in case any remains were found during the archaeological investigations or construction monitoring. Rural Development initiated consultation with the Lummi early on with the expectation of receiving explicit guidelines on the treatment and disposition of human remains, but little guidance was obtained. The signatories of the MOA made the following commitment:
Should human remains be encountered at the site, all work within the immediate vicinity of the remains should cease. RD, the Lummi, SHPO, and City shall be notified immediately. Treatment and removal of the uncovered remains will proceed expeditiously with care and dignity [Golder 1999:38].
Š Site Protection Plan. The Site Protection Plan consisted of three paragraphs focusing on measures the City of Blaine should take once the new Treatment Plan became operational. The Plan directed the City to obtain the services of a professional archaeologist whenever ground-disturbing activities were needed. If human remains were ever encountered, work would stop and the City would contact the designated Lummi representative (Golder 1999:38-39).Š Curation. The plan was to curate collections and records at Western Washington University. “Final disposition of any human remains will be determined upon consultation between RD and the Lummi” (Golder 1999:39).
With the MOA in place, the Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion was ready to begin. First, the archaeological mitigation work would be performed. Then, after the results were disseminated in a preliminary report and approved by the signatories, pre-loading could begin (pre-loading is a construction term which apparently means bringing in fill prior to construction to help compact the underlying sediments). Finally, once actual construction began, archaeological monitors would be present to document any cultural items encountered and take the appropriate measures should human remains be unearthed.
On February 8, 1999, the archaeological mitigation fieldwork commenced. According to the preliminary letter report filed three days after the excavations were completed, the archaeological work began with the City of Blaine excavating four trenches (Tucker 1999a). Three trenches were excavated to the top of shell midden deposits (2 meters from the present ground surface) and two were excavated through the shell midden to natural deposits (3.4 meters from present ground surface); trench lengths were not provided. “The information gained from these trenches helped determine the vertical and horizontal relationships of the intact cultural deposits and guided the placement of the archaeological excavation units” (Tucker 1999a:1). Golder then excavated twenty 1 m by 1 m units in three blocks across the site, along with one more trench by the time the mitigation work ended on February 19, 1999 (see Figure 3 in Appendix A). The three blocks were described as follows:
Construction began in early July 1999, following the pre-loading, which occurred in the spring. A two-man team, supervised by Gordon Tucker, was on hand to monitor for archaeological deposits and human remains. Two Lummi monitors were supposed to be part of the team, but the City of Blaine refused to provide the required $14,000 cost, citing budgetary constraints. As a result, there was no ongoing Lummi participation.
The following account of construction monitoring from July 6 to August 2, 1999, is based on the transcribed field notes of Gordon Tucker (Tucker 1999b). Construction monitoring commenced on July 6, 1999. Several bones were recovered the first day, one of which was thought might be human. On July 7, another bone was recovered that was also thought could be human. A steaming pit was also encountered and recorded as an archaeological feature. More bones and archaeological materials were recovered on July 8. On July 9, confirmed human remains were apparently encountered: “Recovered quite a few bones, most skeletal elements represented” (Tucker 1999b: 84). They took the weekend off, then on July 12, the archaeologists continued “finding human bones in an area of about 2-3-m, surrounding the original FS (AM)-6 find” (Tucker 1999b: 85). The excavation in this area ended at noon. Little work occurred on July 13.
On July 14, Grant Stuart, City of Blaine, came by expressing concern about the time being wasted when construction was shut down. Tucker agreed to scale back from two archaeologists to one archaeologist when little or no digging was going on, but for the main excavation, two archaeologists would still be needed. This was because “we’ll be excavating in a complex shell midden with human remains. There is no way one archaeologist can handle it alone” (Tucker 1999b:86).
Work for the archaeologists did not resume until July 19. On July 20, several bones were again encountered that were possibly human. More bones and various cultural items were recovered on July 21 and July 22.
Major construction excavation began on July 26, 1999. That day, Burials A, B, C, D, E, and F were recorded. These burials, represented by a varying number of skeletal elements, sometimes in association with historic debris, were thought to have originated in disturbed fill. On July 27, Burials G, H and I were recorded, Burial I being “relatively in situ” (Tucker 1999b:93). On July 28, Burial I was “disinterred.” Feature A, a small firepit, was recovered, as were Burials J, K, L, M, N, and O. The bones were boxed up into six boxes and taken away (Tucker 1999b:96).
On July 29, Burials P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z were recovered. Most of these burials were represented by “scattered bones.” Burials X and Y were more or less intact individuals; “Burial X left in place (what hasn’t already been excavated) until Monday.” On August 2, Burial X was “exposed completely.” Burials AA and BB were recovered, and Feature B, a small firepit was recovered. Burial BB was a fully articulated individual, possibly “a pregnant female who died with child in utero” (Tucker 1999b:100).
No mention of communication with the Lummi or any of the MOA signatories is found in Tucker’s field notes. In his March 31, 2002, deposition, Tucker indicated he had left a telephone voice mail message with Theresa Pouley, Lummi Attorney, on the first day human remains were discovered (Tucker 2002:4). Pouley, however, has stated that she never received the message, though she did talk to Tucker on July 12 about the fact that the City of Blaine would not pay for Lummi monitors (Pauley 2001:92). No other attempts were made to contact the Lummi, and no attempts were made to notify the signatories of the MOA, as mandated by the MOA and the Treatment Plan.
On August 2, 1999, Tucker returned to his office in Colorado with the human remains that had been recovered to date. Andrew Mason, another Golder archaeologist who had assisted Tucker earlier in the project, replaced him that day. On August 3, Al Scott Johnnie, Lummi, came by the Treatment Plant and observed human remains. He discussed the situation with Andrew Mason, learning that many more human remains had been uncovered and were on their way to Denver (Mason 2001:186). The Lummi reported the situation to the SHPO and on August 6 the work at the construction site was stopped. The Washington SHPO terminated the MOA on August 6, 1999, in a letter which stated the following:
We have received the faxes from the Lummi Nation, Golder Associates, and your agency regarding the excavation and removal of more than 28 burials from the project site during the period between July 26 through August 2. These actions were taken in direct violation of the stipulations in the Memorandum of Agreement and the attached Treatment Plan.
We are extremely disturbed by the fact these Native American burials were excavated and removed from the state without any notification or consultation with the Lummi Nation, our Office, or your Agency despite a signed agreement that called for such actions. The MOA explicitly called for treating the human remains with respect. Transferring a sovereign nation’s ancestors to Denver without their consent or knowledge does not fall under that definition. Further, under state law these actions were taken in violation of RCW 27.44.030 and 27.44.040 [Brooks 1999].
On August 6, Lummi representatives flew to Denver, Colorado, and took possession of the remains.
A Brief Review of the Case History
In late 1999 the Association of Washington Archaeologists filed a complaint against Dr. Tucker with the RPA Grievance Coordinator alleging numerous violations of the Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance. The Lummi Tribe filed a similar complaint in the Spring of 2000. The initial complaints were not immediately dealt with and the respective parties raised the issue with the RPA again in early 2002. In March 2002, the Board of Directors of the RPA appointed Hester Davis as Interim Grievance Coordinator to consider this matter. Dr. Michael Moratto and Dr. Melvin Aikins were named as Grievance Committee members. Their investigation into the complaints took place between April and July 2002. The Committee concluded that Dr. Tucker had violated several sections of the RPA Code of Conduct and the Standards of Research, and submitted a Complaint against Dr. Tucker to the Standards Board. The Standards Board received the Grievance Committee’s Complaint on 8 August 2002. Notice of the Complaint was provided to Dr. Tucker on 6 September 2002 and a Hearing scheduled for February 2003. The hearing was postponed at the request of Dr. Tucker; the postponement agreement agreed to by all parties stipulated that Dr. Tucker accept a voluntary suspension of his Register accreditation pending the hearing, and waive any argument concerning the Register’s delay in proceeding with the case. The hearing was rescheduled for July 2003. Prior to the hearing date, Dr. Tucker submitted his resignation from the RPA and indicated he would not attend the Hearing. The Grievance Coordinator provided the Standards Board members with copies of all evidence in the case, and a conference call with the Coordinator and the Board members was held on 23 July 2003. The Board rendered its Decision in this matter in October 2003.
The Board reviewed 36 documents provided by the Grievance Coordinator (see attached list of documents submitted to the Board). Regrettably, Dr. Tucker declined the opportunity to present additional evidence to the Board. The Board took Dr. Tucker’s situation into account in its deliberations but feels that the evidence cited below is more than sufficient to support its findings.
Overview of the Facts
The information provided to the Board identifies three fundamental problems with this project and its implementation. While each of these problems reflects the influence of multiple factors, including budget constraints, they are issues for which the Board agrees Dr. Tucker had primary responsibility. These problems crosscut each of the alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance discussed below. This review of the project’s problems is presented to establish the context for the following discussion of the allegations.
First, and most important, the Treatment Plan (mitigation plan) proposed for the Semiahmoo site was seriously inadequate. Dr. Tucker knew the site was a deeply stratified (up to 20 feet thick in places) shell midden with features and burials. The Plan called for the excavation of only 20 1x1 m units within the impact area, sampling less than 0.5% of the project area. In addition, only 10 days were allocated for a crew of six to conduct these excavations, in addition to monitoring two backhoe trenches. Although a geophysical investigation was conducted prior to the excavations, many of the identified anomalies were not subsequently archaeologically investigated nor was the interpreted base of disturbed deposits confirmed across the majority of the project area. Finally, the Lummi Tribe had made clear it was very concerned not only with intact burials but also with any and all fragmentary human remains. The Plan provided no opportunity to locate and identify these remains within the direct impact area not examined in the excavation units. During the monitoring phase of the project, burials were being excavated and removed in less than an hour, clearly indicating that insufficient time had been allocated in the Plan and budget for this aspect of the project.
The Board strongly feels that the Treatment Plan was grossly insufficient to mitigate the impact of the wastewater plant expansion across the site. This site had been deemed eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and the geophysical survey had indicated that intact deposits were present across much, if not most, of the project area. The limited excavations do not provide an archaeologically meaningful sample of the information contained within the impact area, nor do they come close to addressing and mitigating the Lummi Tribe’s concerns. A sizable portion of this significant site was destroyed without adequate documentation.
A second problem was the absence of experienced personnel. Neither Dr. Tucker, nor any of the crew, had experience excavating shell middens. This limitation is reflected by the shortcomings inherent in the Treatment Plan and budget (see above), and may also have limited recognition of culturally significant features and stratigraphy in the field. Of greater importance was the absence of any personnel trained in human osteology. Previous investigations at the site had recovered numerous burials and fragmentary human remains and the Treatment Plan anticipated they would be encountered during this project. During the monitoring phase of the project in particular, the necessity of recognizing fragmentary remains in backhoe trench excavations was critical. As the Lummi Tribe’s concerns and the Treatment Plan made clear, human remains were to be identified and analyzed in situ, yet there was no one on the crew with the requisite skills or knowledge.
The Board feels that the absence of a trained osteologist was a fatal error in the implementation of the project. Given that one of the principal goals was the identification and recovery of human remains, the lack of a project member with the necessary skills is difficult to understand. As subsequent work demonstrated, numerous human remains were found in the backdirt excavated from the site indicating their presence throughout the construction area.
The third problem was the limited consultation with the Lummi Tribe. The Semiahmoo site is a historically documented village of the Lummi Tribe with a known cemetery; the Tribe has a direct and unquestionable association with and interest in this site. The responsible federal agency, USDA Rural Development, directed the City of Blaine and their archaeological consultant Golder and Associates (Dr. Tucker’s employer) to consult with the Lummi on all aspects of the project. As the project was being developed, a number of discussions were held between Golder Associates personnel and the Tribe. However, at the onset of the fieldwork, the Tribe had not yet provided a protocol for handling human remains, nor had they signed the Memorandum of Agreement. Despite this, the recovery of human remains during the onset of the mitigation phase of the excavations established a working procedure between Dr. Tucker and the Tribe that continued through this phase. During the monitoring phase of the project however, Dr. Tucker allowed this procedure to collapse. After an initial attempt (telephone voice mail message) to contact the Lummi, Dr. Tucker made no further efforts throughout the monitoring phase to contact the Tribe, despite the recovery of over two dozen burials and numerous fragmentary human remains. Dr. Tucker subsequently removed the human remains to another state without discussing this transfer with the Lummi or the State Historic Preservation Officer.
The Board strongly feels that it is incumbent upon the archaeologist in charge to make and maintain the necessary consultations with the appropriate Indian tribe. Although communication with the Lummi may not have been easy, the recovery of numerous human remains required Dr. Tucker to find a means of consulting with them. The Treatment Plan not only outlined a three-stage consultation plan which was not fully followed (in part because the Lummi Tribe did not act within the necessary time frame), but stated that when human remains are found, the Federal Agency, State Historic Preservation Office, and the Lummi Tribe will be contacted. Dr. Tucker did not make these contacts nor did he delegate this responsibility to a project staff member.
The original complaints by the Association of Washington Archaeologists and the Lummi Tribe jointly cited 10 alleged violations of the RPA Code of Conduct and eight alleged violations of the RPA Standards of Research Performance. The Grievance Committee investigation concluded that there was no evidence to support three alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and five alleged violations of the Standards of Research Performance, and the Standards Board concurs in this assessment. The Standards Board did find evidence to support seven alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and three alleged violations of the Standards of Research Performance. In addition, the Standards Board identified two additional violations of the Code of Conduct and one additional violation of the Standards of Research Performance. A total of nine violations of the Code of Conduct and four violations of the Standards of Research Performance are documented. Each of the unsupported and supported allegations is discussed below.
Code of Conduct:
I.1.1e: An archaeologist shall support and comply with the terms of the UNESCO convention on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property, as adopted by the General Conference, 1 November 1970, Paris.
The Standards Board concluded that the UNESCO Convention is not applicable to this project and thus this section was not violated.
I.1.2c: An archaeologist shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation about archaeological matters.
The Standards Board concluded there was no evidence Dr. Tucker engaged in any of these activities during this project.
II.2.1f: An archaeologist shall know and comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, and regulations applicable to her/his archaeological research and activities.
The Board concluded there was no evidence Dr. Tucker violated any laws during this project.
Standards of Research Performance:
I.1.2: The archaeologist must inform herself/himself of relevant previous research.
The Board concluded there was not a violation of this section. Dr. Tucker had clearly read the reports on previous work at the site and incorporated that information into the Treatment Plan.
I.1.5: The archaeologist must comply with all legal requirements, including without limitation, obtaining all necessary governmental permits and necessary permission from landowners or other persons.
The Board concluded Dr. Tucker did not violate this section. It was the responsibility of the Federal Agency involved in the project to address these requirements; the Memorandum of Agreement satisfied all necessary permissions.
III.3.3. The methods employed in data collection must be fully and accurately described. Significant stratigraphic and/or associational relationships among artifacts, other specimens, and cultural and environmental features must also be fully and accurately recorded.
The Board concluded Dr. Tucker did not violate this section. The notes available for inspection meet minimum standards of data collection.
IV: During accessioning, analysis, and storage of specimens and records in the laboratory, the archaeologist must take precautions to ensure that correlations between the specimens and the field records are maintained, so that provenience relationships and the like are not confused or obscured.
The Board concluded Dr. Tucker did not violate this section. Copies of field notes provided to the Board indicate provenience control was maintained over the field collections. An allegation stated that mold had been observed on animal bones associated with bags of human remains, however the evidence is unclear. Dr. Tucker stated that mold was not present when the remains were turned over to the Lummi and an unknown period of time had occurred between then and the analysis of the remains when mold was discovered.
VI: The archaeologist has a responsibility for appropriate dissemination of the results of her/his research to the appropriate constituencies with reasonable dispatch.
The Board concluded Dr. Tucker did not violate this section. The Treatment Plan required the submission of a preliminary report at the end of the mitigation phase of the fieldwork. A short letter report summarizing the results of the fieldwork was accepted by the Federal Agency and other parties as the required report. The final report was to include the results of the mitigation and monitoring phases of the project. With the termination of the project and Dr. Tucker’s resignation from Golder Associates, Inc. employment, the Board believes that his personal responsibility for the final report ended.
Code of Conduct
I.1.1b An archaeologist shall actively support conservation of the archaeological resource base.
In this circumstance, “conservation” is construed to include the preservation of data within a site when physical preservation is not possible. As a result of the inadequate Treatment and Monitoring Plans, there was insufficient time and personnel to recover a meaningful sample of the relevant data from this National Register eligible site. As a result, much of the site was destroyed without proper scientific documentation. The Board feels it was Dr. Tucker’s responsibility to insist upon a level of effort commensurate with the site and its potential, and failing that, to decline to participate in a poorly funded and inadequate research project. The Board believes Dr. Tucker violated this section.
I.1.1c An archaeologist shall be sensitive to, and respect the legitimate concerns of groups, whose culture histories are the subjects of archaeological investigations.
The Treatment Plan specified three stages of consultation with the Lummi Tribe to determine the appropriate manner for handling human remains found at the site. Dr. Tucker was not directly responsible for conducting these discussions and they did not proceed through all the outlined stages, however, as project Principal Investigator, he bore the ultimate responsibility for executing the Plan as specified in the Memorandum of Agreement. Despite the lack of an agreed upon strategy for dealing with human remains, Dr. Tucker made appropriate efforts as the fieldwork began. When the first human remain was encountered during the mitigation fieldwork, he contacted the Lummi the following day and immediately repatriated the specimen. At that time, an agreement on how future discoveries of human remains would be handled was reached. At the conclusion of each day during the mitigation project, Dr. Tucker faxed a summary of that day’s activity to the Tribe. One other human remain was identified during the mitigation project and the Lummi notified; they did not respond to this notification.
During the monitoring phase of the project, this system collapsed. Human remains were identified during the first few days of the monitoring. Dr. Tucker states he left a telephone voice mail message with Theresa Pouley, Lummi Tribal attorney, on the first day human remains were found; Theresa Pouley does not remember receiving the message. Despite the recovery of 27 additional burials and concentrations of human remains over the next several weeks, Dr. Tucker made no further effort to contact the Lummi. Furthermore, once the monitoring was completed, he drove the remains to another state, passing within a few miles of the Lummi Tribal reservation as he did so, without ever consulting the Tribe.
The Board acknowledges the difficulties Dr. Tucker and Golder Associates personnel had in communicating with the Lummi and obtaining timely responses from them. Yet this difficulty in no way absolves Dr. Tucker for his lack of effort in trying to communicate with the Tribe. It is not clear under the Memorandum of Agreement which agency was responsible for notifying the Lummi, however, the Board feels that it is ultimately Dr. Tucker’s responsibility to ensure that someone was notifying them. Dr. Tucker did not notify the Federal Agency and the State Historic Preservation Office during the monitoring project as required under the MOA, so those agencies could not have notified the Tribe. Given the recovery of numerous burials, it was absolutely imperative that the Lummi be contacted and arrangements made to properly handle the remains. This project represents a significant failure to consider the legitimate concerns of the Lummi Tribe. Dr. Tucker’s failure to communicate with the Tribe concerning his findings and proposed actions, or to ensure that someone was notifying them of these issues, constitutes a serious violation of this section.
I.1.2a An archaeologist shall not engage in any illegal or unethical conduct involving archaeological matters or knowingly permit the use of his/her name in support of any illegal or unethical activity involving archaeological matters.
The allegation was that the removal of the human remains across state lines violated the terms of the MOA and Washington State law. The Grievance Committee did not find any evidence indicating this action was illegal. Golder Associates was not a party to the MOA and therefore Dr. Tucker, as its employee, did not legally violate the MOA.
Dr. Tucker wrote the Treatment Plan required by the MOA. The budget prepared by Tucker and Golder Associates was in response to the amount of money the City of Blaine made available for the archaeological work. This sum was clearly inadequate and inappropriate for mitigating the impact on this site. Tailoring a project to meet funding constraints that do not allow for the necessary archaeological work to be undertaken is unethical. The Board believes that by designing and placing his name on a Plan lacking critical elements (including sufficient funding) minimally necessary to adequately mitigate the impact upon this site, Dr. Tucker ethically violated this section.
I.1.2b An archaeologist shall not give professional opinion, make a public report, or give legal testimony involving archaeological matters without being as thoroughly informed as might reasonably be expected.
In this case, the Treatment Plan prepared by Dr. Tucker represents his professional opinion. The issue is not whether Dr. Tucker had read the previous research (he clearly had as noted in the unsupported allegation I.1.2 above), but whether he had made appropriate use of that information. It is the Board’s opinion that thorough consideration of the earlier research could not have resulted in a professional opinion that two weeks of excavation and monitoring by two archaeologists during construction were adequate at a deeply stratified site containing features and burials. In addition, the lack of experience in digging shell middens, and identifying and recovering human remains contributed to the development of an uninformed Treatment Plan. There is no evidence that Dr. Tucker spoke with archaeologists experienced in shell midden excavations or consulted research reports beyond that reported for the Semiahmoo site. The Board believes that Dr. Tucker violated this section by not being as informed as was necessary for this particular site.
I.1.2d An archaeologist shall not undertake any research that affects the archaeological resource base for which she/he is not qualified.
Dr. Tucker met the standards for a professional archaeologist promulgated by the National Park Service and the Register of Professional Archaeologists. These standards however, are not adequate benchmarks for determining whether an individual is sufficiently trained and experienced to serve as a Principal Investigator in the investigation of any and all types of sites. In this case, Dr. Tucker had no prior experience excavating stratified shell middens, or in the excavation and in situ analysis of human remains. When an archaeologist lacks the requisite experience and/or skills, it is their responsibility to the archaeological record to ensure that individuals with the appropriate knowledge are present during the project. There is little evidence that Dr. Tucker made any serious efforts to overcome these limitations during the development of the project plans. The Board believes that because Dr. Tucker was not fully qualified to undertake this project and he failed to insist that Golder Associates hire individuals with the relevant skill, a violation of this section occurred.
II.2.1h An archeologist shall honor and comply with the spirit and letter of the Register of Professional Archaeologist’s Disciplinary Procedures.
In joining the Register of Professional Archaeologists, Dr. Tucker agreed to submit to disciplinary procedures should that event occur. By resigning prior to an impending Hearing, he violated that agreement. The Board believes Dr. Tucker violated this section.
III.3.1b An archaeologist shall refuse to comply with any request or demands of an employer or client which conflicts with the Code and Standards.
Golder Associates and Dr. Tucker accepted the financial limitations given by the City of Blaine without any apparent discussion with the City that this level of funding was seriously inadequate to mitigate the adverse affect upon the site. It is a reasonable inference that the limited Treatment Plan is a direct reflection of client and management pressures to keep costs down. As a result, the Board believes that the client’s priorities were placed above those of the archaeological resource or the Lummi Tribe. The Board believes these actions constitute a serious violation of this section by Dr. Tucker.
III.3.1c An archaeologist shall recommend to employers or clients the employment of other archaeologists or other expert consultants upon encountering archaeological problems beyond her/his experience.
Dr. Tucker had no experience excavating stratified shell middens, working with Native American Tribes, or in identifying and analyzing human remains. Each of these areas was prominent in the Treatment Plan developed by Dr. Tucker. Other Golder personnel with experience in Native American consultation initially handled consultation with the Lummi Tribe, and it is reasonable to expect that Dr. Tucker would insist on employing individuals experienced in shell midden excavation and human osteology. This need is particularly evident when the Treatment Plan states that human remains will be analyzed in situ; exactly how Dr. Tucker anticipated undertaking this analysis in the field was never addressed in the documents available to the Board. The Board believes that once numerous human remains began appearing during the monitoring project, Dr. Tucker should have insisted to Golder Associates that an experienced osteologist be made immediately available. By planning a research project that did not ensure that individuals with the requisite experience would be available, and by participating in field activities for which he was not experienced, Dr. Tucker violated this section.
III.3.2e An archaeologist shall not recommend or participate in any research which does not comply with the requirements of the Standards of Research Performance.
The Board finds that Dr. Tucker violated several sections of the Standards of Research Performance as discussed below. By not complying with the requirements of the Standards, Dr. Tucker is in violation of this section.
Standards of Research Performance
I.1.1 The archaeologist must assess the adequacy of her/his qualifications for the demands of the project, and minimize inadequacies by acquiring additional expertise, by bringing in associates with the needed qualifications, or by modifying the scope of the project.
This issue has been addressed in the Code of Conduct Sections I.1.2d and II.3.1c above. Although Dr. Tucker did initially note to Golder personnel that a person knowledgeable in human remains might be useful on the crew, when this suggestion was not followed up he made no additional efforts to argue for this expertise. For the reasons discussed in the previous sections, the Board believes Dr. Tucker violated this section.
I.1.3. The archaeologist must develop a scientific plan of research which specifies the objectives of the project, takes into account previous relevant research, employs a suitable methodology, and provides for economical use of the resource base (whether such base consists of an excavation site or of specimens) consistent with the objectives of the project.
The Treatment Plan research design briefly mentions locating a structure for insights into house construction and social organization, and chronological issues as research themes. Much more discussion is given to possible analyses of faunal remains recovered at the site. There is no discussion of other research avenues (lithic technology, environmental adaptation, resource procurement and commodity exchange systems) noted by previous researchers at the site. Furthermore, there is no discussion of research themes related to the human remains recovered at the site. Even given the limited questions addressed in the Plan, the proposed mitigation excavations were severely inadequate given the documented data potential of the site. There is no mention of how a structure would be identified, much less documented, when the only excavation strategy was a series of 1x1 m units. The Plan also does not provide sufficient documentation explaining how the Lummi Tribe’s concerns about the discovery and identification of fragmentary human remains across the entire project area would be addressed The proposed research design and excavation strategy does not begin to represent an “economical use of the resource base,” nor does it come close to addressing the concerns of the Lummi Tribe. The Board believes there is a serious violation of this section.
I.1.4. The archeologist must ensure the availability of adequate and competent staff and support facilities to carry the project to completion, and of adequate curatorial facilities for specimens and records.
The issue of adequate and competent staff during the field project has been addressed under the Code of Conduct Sections I.1.2d and II.3.1c, and the Standards of Research Performance Section I.1.1 above.
The Treatment Plan indicates the collection and records will be curated at Western Washington University but Dr. Tucker did not arrange this with University officials prior to beginning the fieldwork. Dr. Tucker did initiate discussions about curation after the mitigation project was completed.
For the reasons cited in the previous sections, the Board believes Dr. Tucker violated this section.
II. In conducting research, the archaeologist must follow her/his scientific plan of research, except to the extent that unforeseen circumstances warrant its modification.
Dr. Tucker did follow the research design outlined in the Treatment Plan, with one critical exception. The Plan states “Analysis of human osteological remains, if recognized in the fill, will be completed in situ” with standard osteological measurements, gender analysis and age determinations completed on all elements. There is no evidence that any of these analyses were conducted in the field. The failure to follow the Plan almost certainly reflects the lack of expertise by Dr. Tucker or any member of his crew to conduct these analyses. In the evidence presented to the Board, there is no indication that Dr. Tucker felt “unforeseen circumstances” had necessitated a change in strategy, on the contrary, the monitoring project proceeded largely as proposed in the Monitoring Plan. The Board believes Dr. Tucker violated this section.
The original complaints filed against Dr. Tucker concerning his actions at the Semiahmoo site (45WH17) cited 10 possible violations of the Register of Professional Archaeologists Code of Conduct and eight possible violations of the Standards of Research Performance. The Grievance Committee investigation identified seven potential violations of the Code of Conduct and three potential violations of the Standards of Research Performance. The Standards Board review of the evidence presented to it finds that Dr. Tucker violated nine sections of the Code of Conduct (I.1.1b, I.1.1c, I.1.2a, I.1.2b, I.1.2d, II.2.1h, III.3.1b, III.3.1c and III.3.2e) and four sections of the Standards of Research Performance (I.1.1, I.1.3, I.1.4 and II).
The history of events at the Semiahmoo site reveals that many individuals and entities, including the City of Blaine, the State Historic Preservation Office, the USDA Rural Development, the Lummi Tribe, and Golder Associates, contributed to this unfortunate situation. Some factors were beyond the control of Golder Associates and its employee, Dr. Gordon Tucker. The archaeological investigation of the Semiahmoo site however, was the responsibility of Dr. Tucker and he bears primary accountability for the development of the Treatment and Monitoring Plans and conducting the fieldwork.
The Standards Board finds Dr. Tucker violated nine sections of the RPA Code of Conduct and four sections of the Standards of Research Performance. These violations involve three major issues:
1) that Dr. Tucker developed a Treatment Plan and conducted an excavation that was grossly inadequate for a stratified shell midden up to 20 feet thick with numerous features and burials known to be present. This situation came about, in part, because of Dr. Tucker’s lack of experience with shell midden excavations, a commitment by Golder Associates to keep the project costs within the inadequate limits specified by the City of Blaine, and the failure by Dr. Tucker to comprehend the results of previous investigations at the site and what they portended for future investigations. The Treatment Plan resulted in the excavation of only 0.5% of the site within the impact area, a sample that is seriously inadequate for a site of this complexity, depth and significance.
2) that Dr. Tucker failed to insist upon having adequately trained personnel at the site to accomplish the goals stated in the Treatment Plan. The Treatment Plan and the concerns of the Lummi Tribe made it clear that identification of fragmentary human remains, as well as the in situ analysis of human remains, was a principal goal of the project. There was no one on the crew who had the requisite skills to accomplish this goal.
3) that Dr. Tucker failed to adequately and consistently consult with the Lummi Tribe, or to ensure that someone was keeping them informed of events at the site. This failure is especially evident during the monitoring phase of the project when numerous burials and human remains were identified but other than one message left on a telephone voice mail, no attempts were made to inform the Lummi of these finds. The human remains were removed from the state without any consultation with the Lummi. While the Memorandum of Agreement is unclear as to which party to the MOA was technically responsible for contacting the Lummi, there is no doubt that it was ultimately Dr. Tucker’s responsibility to ensure that the Tribe received all the necessary information.
The Standards Board believes these issues get at the heart of what the Register of Professional Archaeologists represents. An RPA should act to preserve, or when necessary, conserve the information inherent in the archaeological record and do so in a way that provides for the maximum benefit to all interested parties. This did not happen in this case. The Board believes this case represents an egregious violation of the RPA Code of Conduct and Standards of Research Performance. Consequently, it is the Decision of the Standards Board that Dr. Gordon C. Tucker, Jr., be expelled from the Register of Professional Archaeologists.
Andrew, Laurel A.
1999 Letter of Lummi Indian Tribe. United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development.
1999 Letter to Richard Butler, USDA Rural Development. State of Washington, Department of Trade and Economic Development, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
Golder Associates, Inc.
1998 Memorandum from Gordon C. Tucker to William Duffy, City of Blaine, “Cultural Resource Assessment of Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade and Expansion Project”. Golder Associates, Inc., Lakewood, CO.
1999 Treatment Plan for City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant. Golder Associates, Inc., Lakewood CO.
Grabert, Garland F., Jackie A. Cressman, and Anne Wolverton
1978 Prehistoric Archaeology at Semiahmoo Spit, Washington: A Report on Salvage Archaeology at 45WH17. Reports in Archaeology 8, Department of Anthropology, Western Washington University, Bellingham.
1996 City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant Cultural Resource Assessment. Larson Anthropological and Archaeological Services.
2001 Deposition of Andrew Mason. Lummi Nation vs. Golder Associates, No. C01-1003L.
Pouley, Theresa M.
2001 Deposition of Theresa M. Pouley. Lummi Nation vs. Golder Associates, No. C01-1003L.
1999 Memorandum of Agreement, City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Tucker, Gordon C.
1999a Letter to USDA Rural Development, “Archaeological Investigations at Site 45WH17, City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant.” Golder Associates, Inc., Lakewood, CO.
1999b Transcribed field notes of Gordon C. Tucker from City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant Construction Monitoring.
2002 Deposition of Gordon C. Tucker. Lummi Nation vs. Golder Associates, No. C01-1003L.
Whitlam, Robert G.
1998 Letter to Richard A. Baker, USDA Rural Development, May 11, 1998. State of Washington, Department of Trade and Economic Development, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.
Inventory of Documents Reviewed by the Standards Board
1. Attachment C: City of Blaine, Washington, Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion and Upgrade; Plan to Mitigate Adverse Effects to Archaeological Site 45WH17 Through Intensive Data Recovery, January 1999
2. Proposed Archaeological Monitoring Plan for Site 45WH17, April 29, 1999.
3. Map of site and location of archaeological excavations, June 2001.
4. Attachment B: City of Blaine, Washington, Wastewater Treatment Plant Cultural Resources Assessement by Larson Anthropological and Archaeological Services, 1996.
5. Transcript of deposition of Dr. Gordon Tucker, September 17, 2001.
6. Amended Report of Inventory of Ancestral Remains Removed from 45WH17, Summer of 1999, by Sarah Campbell, Joan Stevenson and Alyson Rollins, Department of Anthropology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, June 8, 2001.
7. Xeroxes of photographs of the site taken in 1999 and 2002.
8. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for site 45WH17, May 6, 1998.
9. Expert Opinion on Gordon Tucker’s Performance in Providing Professional Archaeological Services during the Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant Project, by Dr. Darby C. Stapp, July 2003.
10. Preliminary Report on Archaeolgoical Investigations at Site 45WH17, City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Plant, February 22, 1999.
11. Letter from Andrew Mason, Golder Associates, to Al Scott Johnnie, Lummi Indian Nation, August 13, 1999.
12. Xeroxes of Gordon Tucker’s and Andrew Mason’s field notebooks, specimen logs from the mitigation and monitoring fieldwork, and photographs taken during the monitoring project.
13. Transcript of deposition of Dr. Sarah Campbell, March 7, 2003.
14. Copies of daily faxes sent by Dr. Tucker to Teresa Pouley, Lummi Nation, during the mitigation project, February 1999.
15. Deposition of Teresa M. Pouley, September 26, 2001.
16. Deposition of Al Scott Johnnie, September 25, 2001.
17. Deposition of Andrew Mason, October 3, 2001.
18. Copies of emails between Gordon Tucker and Golder Associates staff dealing with the consultation efforts and the development of the Treatment Plan, 1998.
19. Copies of nine newspaper articles from the Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Weekly from 1999 and 2002.
20. Notes by Dr. Michael Moratto of his interview with Dr. Gordon Tucker, June 2, 2002.
21. Resume of Dr. Gordon Tucker, dated January 1, 2002.
22. Summary Sequence of Events from 1999 to 2002, compiled by Isaac Blum and Mary Rossi, April 16, 2002.
23. Declaration of Gordon Tucker, dated March 31, 2002, and accompanying exhibits.
24. Deposition of Rebecca Balcom, September 28, 2001.
25. Letter from Lummi Tribal attorney Theresa Pouley to USDA, January 20, 1999.
26. Letter from Whatcom County Executive to Tim Ballew, Lummi Indian Business Council, March 16, 1999.
27. Copy of Record of Pre-construction Conference and accompanying notes, June 28, 1999.
28. Lummi Indian Nation complaint to the RPA against Dr. Gordon Tucker, May 26, 2000.
29. Resolution 99-87 of the Lummi Indian Business Council concerning the Lummi Nation’s Response to Semiahmoo Desecration
30. Letter from Richard Baker, USDA Rural Development, to Anthony Mortillaro, City of Blaine, concerning procedures to follow in the event of finding human remains, August 5, 1999.
31. Letter from Allyson Brooks, State Historic Preservation Officer, to Richard Baker, USDA Rural Development, concerning termination of the Memorandum of Agreement for the City of Blaine Wastewater Treatment Facility project, August 6, 1999.
32. Copy of letter from Michael Trow, Attorney, to Mary McBride, USDA Rural Development State Director, concerning Memorandum of Agreement for project, August 10, 1999.
33. Report on Remains Recovered During the Initial Field Testing at Blaine WWTP in February of 1999, by Alyson Rollins, August 9, 2001.
34. Report of the Recovery Effort at 3908 Holtzheimer Road (A le’le), Final Draft, prepared by Dr. Sarah Campbell, Dr. Joan Stevenson, Isaac Blum and Alyson Rollins, November 14, 2000.
35. Summary of Activities Related to the Semiahmoo Repatriation, Recovery and Reinterment Effort at Si’ke (45WH17), 1999-2002, prepared by Isaac Blum, Alyson Rollins, and Mary Rossi, revised April 24, 2002.
36. Memorandum from Gordon Tucker to William Duffy, City of Blaine, concerning acitivities already completed at the project site and those remaining to be completed, April 1, 1998.
 Dr. Darby Stapp, RPA, Director of the Hanford Cultural Resources Laboratory wrote the Project History section, as part of his Expert Opinion report submitted to the Grievance Committee and is reproduced here with his permission.