Consistent with BARA's founding mission, to monitor the welfare and well-being of Native American groups in Arizona, the CRS program focuses on the national need to assure the preservation of Native American cultures and languages. A long history of misguided policy-making and disregard for native cultures in this country created marginalized and dependent peoples with severe economic disadvantages and little control over their own destiny. Federal legislation, such as the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, has attempted to redress the situation and establish new policy paths that emphasize tribal empowerment and cultural respect.
BARA has contributed to these new directions by developing standard procedures that assure the full participation of Native American tribes in the process of identifying and controlling their comprehensive cultural resource inventories. In this program, BARA researchers facilitate the interaction of tribes with government and private agencies.
Through the use of ethnography and archaeology, BARA professionals have assisted communities to reconstruct their cultural histories, made geographical information systems (GIS) technologies available to tribes wanting to identify and maintain their cultural landscapes, and have worked to address language shift through the development of dictionaries and the promotion of language literacy on reservations.
This program also has contributed to the development of cultural resource theory within applied anthropology and has generated genuine, mutually respectful, and productive partnerships between the University and Native American tribes. One of BARA's most consistently supported research programs, Cultural Resources Studies has received long-term funding from tribes, the National Park Service, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Reclamation, and many other entities.