Fort Vancouver Announces 2012 Speaker Series: "At the Door of No Return: The Worldwide Archaeology of the Colonial Period"

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News Release Date: June 11, 2012

Contact: Doug Wilson, (360) 921-5241

The colonial period transformed the world. The door of no return refers to the pathway by which Africans were enslaved and brought to faraway places in North America (and elsewhere). However, it is also a metaphor for the changes wrought by colonial contact on indigenous peoples, and even on the colonizers themselves. Experts in the field of archaeology will speak during the annual archaeology field school at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a program of the Northwest Cultural Resources Institute. Lectures in the series will address topics of the colonial past, including warfare, slavery, shipwrecks, and food traditions.

The lectures are open to the public. The field school is a joint undertaking of the Northwest Cultural Resources Institute at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (National Park Service), Portland State University, and Washington State University Vancouver. The Northwest Cultural Resources Institute is dedicated to facilitating cultural resource education and research activities in the region, through cooperative partnerships at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and at other Northwest National Parks. Fort Vancouver, the premier historical archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest, provides a dynamic place-based learning environment for public and academic programs.


All but the July 5 talk will be held at the new Auditorium of the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, located on the park road south of Officer's Row, just east of Evergreen Blvd. and East Reserve Street in Vancouver, WA. Directions: From I-5, take the Mill Plain Boulevard exit (Exit 1-C) and head east. Turn south onto Fort Vancouver Way. At the traffic circle, go east on Evergreen Boulevard and follow signs to the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. The July 5 lecture and an exhibit opening will be at the Clark County Historical Museum (in partnership with the Clark County Historical Society) at 1511 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington 98660.


Lectures at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center are free. The July 5 lecture requires admission to the Clark County Historical Museum (Clark County Historical Society members are free).


  • Thursday, June 28, 2012, 7:00 pm - Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman: Ranching, Rendering, and Regional Economies in the 18th-Century Pimeria Alta

Location: Fort Vancouver Visitor Center

Dr. Pavao-Zuckerman has a joint appointment at the University of Arizona between the School of Anthropology, where she is both Associate Director and Associate Professor, and in the Arizona State Museum where she is Associate Curator of Zooarchaeology. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Binghamton University and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Georgia in 2001. She is an historical zooarchaeologist who is interested in the impact of the introduction of Eurasian domesticated animals and European market economies on indigenous subsistence and economic systems. She is currently conducting research on the colonial experiences of indigenous peoples in southeastern and southwestern North America, including a Collaborative National Science Foundation grant for exploration of faunal exploitation strategies at the Lower Creek community of Apalachicola, Alabama. She is published in American Antiquity, the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, the Handbook of North American Indians, and recently co-authored The Zooarchaeology of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale and Pueblo Santa Catalina de Guale, St. Catherine's Island, Georgia.

About the talk: Spanish colonial missions were critical to the expansion of European economic institutions in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Native American labor in mission contexts was recruited in support of broader programs of colonialism, mercantilism, and resource extraction. Animals and animal products were often important commodities within colonial-period regional exchange networks and thus, zooarchaeological data is crucial to the reconstruction of local economic practices that linked Native labor the larger-scale economic processes. Zooarchaeological remains from two Spanish missions, in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, demonstrate that Native labor supported broader colonial economic processes through the production of animal products.

  • Thursday, July 5, 2012, 7:00 pm - Greg Archuleta: Traditional Foods of the Lower Columbia River Region (in partnership with the Clark County Historical Society)

Location: Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington

Greg Archuleta is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. He teaches tribal and community-based education classes on the culture, history and traditions of the Native people of Western Oregon and the lower Columbia River region. The classes include Native American ethno-botany, including traditional foods, Native art, carving, basketry and other traditional practices.

About the talk: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde member and educator, Greg Archuleta will speak about traditional foods of the lower Columbia River region, including acorns, hazelnuts, berries, camas and wapato. He will discuss food preparation techniques and other native plants that are important tribal foods. The talk will accompany the opening at 5 pm of the Washington State Historical Society's travelling exhibit at the Clark County Historical Museum titled A Taste of Native America: Washington's First Foods.

  • Thursday, July 12, 2012, 7:00 pm - Jacqueline Cheung and Eric Gleason: The Archaeology of Captain Jack's Stronghold

Location: Fort Vancouver Visitor Center

Jacqueline Cheung is an archaeologist with the National Park Service based out of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. During the past seven years with the Park Service, she has explored archaeological sites throughout the region, including Middle Village/Station Camp, John Day National Monument, Mt. Rainier, North Cascades and the Kam Wah Chung Museum. Prior to working with the Park Service, she worked for 20 years doing field work on a variety of sites in the northwest.

Eric Gleason is also an archaeologist with the National Park Service stationed at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. He grew up in Boring, Oregon, and attended Mt. Hood Community College and Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. His first archaeological excavation was in 1978 at 45-SA-11 near North Bonneville, Washington. The years following this excavation were spent working on a number of other archaeological projects throughout the western states. His interest in stereo photography was born in the Nebraska parlor of his Great Aunt, looking at stereo photographs taken from around the world.

About the talk: Captain Jack's Stronghold, located in Lava Beds National Monument, was the key battleground of the 1872-1873 Modoc War. A lightning strike in 2008 sparked a wildfire that burned the Stronghold and provided the opportunity to do a post-fire assessment and intensive survey of the site, including pedestrian survey and metal detector work by the 2010 NPS Public Archaeology field school. The first half of the presentation will discuss the archaeological techniques used to study fortifications and residential features of the Stronghold and the reinterpretation of the battle using associated artifacts. The second half of the presentation describes how historical stereoscopic photographs were used during the survey to identify features and examine changes to the landscape. This part of the program is projected in 3-D (3-D glasses will be provided).

  • Thursday, July 19, 2012, 7:00 pm - Scott Williams, The Beeswax Wreck, the "Mystery" Wreck of the North Oregon Coast

Location: Fort Vancouver Visitor Center

Scott Williams is the Manager of the Cultural Resources Program at the Washington State Department of Transportation, and a professional archaeologist with over 25 years of experience in the field. He is the Principal Investigator for the Beeswax Wreck Research Project, and has been leading the effort over the last six years to locate and identify the wreck.

About the talk: Two hundred years ago, a "mystery" wreck was noted on Nehalem Beach in North Oregon by fur traders, and since that time there has been much speculation regarding the origin, destination, and date of the wreck and the impact of the wreck on coastal Indian groups prior to the first recorded visits by Euro-American explorers and settlers. Scott Williams will present the latest results from the ongoing Beeswax Wreck Research Project, including information on the likely identity of the ship, when and why it wrecked, and the efforts to locate diagnostic remains of the wreck for positive identification. Come hear how the "mystery" is close to being solved!

  • Thursday, July 26, 2012, 7:00 pm - Christopher DeCorse, Elmina: African Europeans on the Coast of Ghana

Location: Fort Vancouver Visitor Center

Christopher DeCorse is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is an archaeologist with research interests in culture contact and change, material culture studies, and general anthropology. Dr. DeCorse has excavated at sites in the United States and the Caribbean, but with a primary area of research in the archaeology, ethnohistory, and ethnography of sub-Saharan Africa. He is interested in how archaeology can help us understand the transformations that occurred in Africa during the period of the Atlantic trade and he has excavated at sites in Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. His most recent archaeological research has focused on the African settlement at Elmina, Ghana, the site of the first and largest European trade post established in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. DeCorse's publications include Record of the Past: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology and Archaeology (Prentice Hall 2000), Anthropology: A Global Perspective, co-authored with Raymond Scupin (4th edition, Prentice Hall 2001), West Africa during the Atlantic Slave Trade: Archaeological Perspectives, edited (Leicester University Press 2001), and An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast (Smithsonian Institute Press 2001).

About the talk: Dr. Chris DeCorse will talk about his excavations at Elmina where thirty thousand slaves a year passed through the door of no return as they started a harrowing journey that led to an uncertain life in the Americas. Discover the story of the first European slave castle, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Background: The Fort Vancouver National Site brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Fort Vancouver National Site teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The park's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Vancouver , WA 98661


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