Fritz Riddell


Francis A. Riddell points out a buried archaeological feature in the bank of San Mateo Creek, San Onofre State Beach.  (Photo by John Foster, 1981)

Francis A. “Fritz” Riddell   (1921-2002) was the first professional archaeologist hired by the State of California.  He became curator of the State Indian Museum in 1956, and the State Archaeologist in 1960.  Many of the policies and programs in use today to preserve California’s cultural resources were developed by Fritz Riddell.

We remember Fritz and his life-long dedication to archaeology and Native Californians.  In many ways our work described in these pages is a continuation of the heritage preservation effort started by Fritz Riddell.

On the occasion of his 25th year anniversary with State Parks, the following was written of Fritz:

“You have earned the respect of your peers and of Departmental levels of management through your steadfast commitment to the preservation and effective professional management of cultural resources in the State Park System.

Down through the years you have been an unquestioned champion of Native Americans in California and of resources related to Native Americans.  Most significant has been your unswerving dedication to the cause of justice for Native Americans and to the preservation of the remaining evidence of Native American societies wherever they are found in California.”

Russell W. Cahill
March 5, 1980