Interpreting the Village
The written story we have of Fort Vancouver, passed to us by the white inhabitants, says little about the diverse population of people involved in the operation of the Fort.
Since most of the Company employees and their families were illiterate, first-hand accounts of the daily life and social organization of the village do not exist. Thus, the primary connection we have to these people is the physical space they inhabited.
The village itself helps fill the gaps in the historical record through archaeological excavations and analyses of the material culture from the village area. This information is necessary for park personnel to provide multiple perspectives of the history of Fort Vancouver.
The village is a background for visitors to connect with the an astounding diversity of people; adding the perspectives of the less-educated, lower class, non-British ethnicities to the story.
Furthermore, the National Park Service is actively engaged in discussion with local Hawaiian and Native American communities, as the site's knowledge and interpretive activities expand to incorporate the area of the village and its inhabitants.
Research in the village has led to an increasing understanding of the physical space and layout of the village, and also illuminates issues of social organization within it.
Past archaeological work has revealed the location of several structures in the village, four of which were dwellings for workers.
Excavations in the Summer of 2001 helped verify the location of the Lower Mill Road and the connecting north-south road. This excavation also revealed the location of a fifth dwelling along the north-south road, which will be the focus of Summer 2002 excavations as well.
Using the information gained through archaeological research, park personnel have reconstructed roads and fence lines as they would have been historically.
At the entrance to the village a wooden gate was erected in 2001-- a powerful physical symbol of the village and its relationship separate from Fort Vancouver.
Did You Know?
Did you know that Fort Vancouver National Historic Site hosts an annual Public History Field School, where graduate-level history students can gain practical field experience in historical interpretation? More...