THREE Questions: Jessica Yaquinto

12/20/2019 2:58 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

THREE Questions is a new blog series highlighting ACRA member firms and their experiences in the CRM industry.

ABOUT OUR MEMBER: Jessica Yaquinto is the Founder and Principal Investigator of Living Heritage Anthropology, LLC and President/CEO of the 501c3 non-profit Living Heritage Research Council, both based on Cortez, Colorado. She has been a cultural anthropologist and ethnographer primarily in the Greater Southwest and Great Basin for the past 13 years. Her past work includes numerous ethnographic and tribal consultation projects with more than 55 tribes, including projects funded by a variety of tribal, local, state, federal. and private entities. Jessica specializes in ethnographic overviews, Cultural Resource Management (CRM), cultural landscape studies, Traditional Cultural Property studies, Community-Based Participatory Research and Collaborative Ethnography, and ethnohistories. As a member of the ACRA Board of Directors, she holds the Small Firm Designated Board Seat.

When engaging a general audience, what stands out as the one thing people are most surprised to learn about your company or the CRM industry?

JY: Mostly people are surprised that working with tribes/traditional communities to preserve their heritage is a profession, period. I'd say that's a surprise for people both in and out of CRM. Living Heritage Anthropology only focuses on ethnographic research and tribal consultation assistance and we are all cultural anthropologists by training. Even with our cultural anthropology/ethnography focus, CRM colleagues, even those I have worked with for a long time, will regularly introduce me to others as an archaeologist. So we tend to surprise people in general I guess!

As far as the general public just learning that tribes still exist unfortunately is often a surprising point for people. Similarly another big surprise for clients is that funding needs to be included for paying for tribal representatives' time and expenses on projects. We would never ask a consultant in any other field to volunteer, so I'm not sure why people expect cultural consultants to work for free.

Do you have a favorite piece of personal experience that is your “go-to” for engaging clients and/or the public as to why CRM work is important?

JY: As an ethnographic/tribal consultation focused company the vast majority of our clients are from within the CRM world. Therefore, I find myself mostly advocating for tribal/community engagement (both ethnographic research and tribal consultation) within CRM rather than for CRM in general. Often this involves reminding clients that they are not meeting their NHPA requirements if they are not considering Traditional Cultural Properties and the only ways to identify TCPs are through ethnographic research, tribal consultation, or tribal monitors. TCPs by definition have to come from the community itself.

For both the public and clients though I think there is no better way for them to see the importance of CRM than to hear about in from the associated communities itself. Bringing a tribe or associated community to the table in much more impactful than anything I could say. This is one of the main reasons I co-host the Heritage Voices podcast on the Archaeology Podcast Network. That way people can hear directly from community members about their experiences with CRM, Anthropology, and Land Management. When you can hear the emotion in someone's voice, that's powerful.

We all know that most CRM staff believe in what we do, but how do you engage those under you in the business aspects of your firm? Do you find that an increased awareness of the challenges of running a business is related to professional satisfaction, employee retention, and/or project success?

JY: Living Heritage Anthropology is a very small company, so by extension everyone has been naturally engaged and interested in the business aspects because they affect everyone more directly. As a result, I do think that everyone is more engaged and personally invested. There's very much a sense of all coming together to build something together. Or in other words there's an understanding that we have to keep the ship running smoothly in order to serve the associated communities and our clients. So it'll be interesting to try to maintain that aspect as we continue to grow.

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