Encyclopedia Article


An object, usually of everyday use, that was made by people in the past and discovered, often by anthropologists and archaeologists, closer to the present. Artifacts are usually examined for their historical significance and are believed to indicate how peoples of the past lived.

Because Native American tribes have been living in what are now the United States for thousands of years, artifacts from the ancestors of peoples with ancient but still living traditions have been found. This has led to controversy concerning anthropological and archaeological work, as the these surviving traditional communities perceive the work of anthropologists and archaeologists as desecrating objects and sites sacred to Native peoples.

Photo Credit: 

"Sifting for artifacts during Grand Canyon National Park's Archaeology Day, March 23, 2013" by Grand Canyon National Park is licensed under CC BY.