Archaeology Lecture Series 2011

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Date: June 1, 2011
Contact: Doug Wilson, 360-921-5241


2011 Public Archaeology Lecture Series

VANCOUVER, WA -- 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.

The talks are open to the public and will address topics of diversity, race, ethnicity, and public engagement at archaeological sites from western boomtowns, fur trade forts in the Midwest, and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation.  

Seating for these lectures is limited, and is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 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, Washington State University Vancouver, and the Fort Vancouver National Trust.  

Directions: All of the talks will be held in the Tex Rankin Theater at Pearson Air Museum, a National Park Service facility operated through partnership by the Fort Vancouver National Trust and located at 1115 E 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661.  

From I-5 take the Mill Plain Blvd. exit going east. Turn right onto Fort Vancouver Way, then left onto East 5th Street. 

Program Dates

Thursday, June 16, 2011, 7:00 pm – Peter Lape: Getting the Public to Care about Archaeology: Lessons Learned from Seattle and Southeast Asia  

Peter Lape (Ph.D., Brown University, 2000) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, at the University of Washington. His research is currently focused on Neolithic Island Southeast Asia, but he also works on museum archaeology, cultural resource management practice and archaeology education projects in the Puget Sound area. He has curated a number of archaeology museum exhibits at the Burke Museum and in museums in Indonesia, and is currently developing the Waterlines Project, an exploration of Seattle’s changing landscapes.  

About the talk: The majority of people find archaeology interesting and support archaeologists’ research and stewardship goals. However, all too often, archaeologists squander this public support by keeping their work secret or through misguided public outreach efforts. This talk will present Dr. Lape’s attempts to share archaeology with various publics in Seattle, and in the Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor Leste. The focus will be on mistakes he has made, and lessons we can learn from them. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 7:00 pm – Kelly Dixon: Saloon Archaeology in Virginia City, Nevada   

Kelly J. Dixon (Ph.D., University of Nevada, 2002) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at The University of Montana. Her archaeological research has examined Donner Party encampments (“Men, Women, and Children, Starving!”American Antiquity, 2010 75[3]; and An Archaeology of Desperation, 2011, University of Oklahoma Press), as well as excavations of saloons in Virginia City, Nevada. Her book, Boomtown Saloons: Archaeology and History in Virginia City (2005) features insights gathered from the ruins of an African American saloon, as well as several other drinking establishments. In Montana, Dr. Dixon is mentoring Ph.D., M.A., and Undergraduate students working at various sites, such as the mining ghost town of Coloma, historic forts (Fort Missoula and Fort Owen), and Overseas Chinese communities. Dixon is currently preparing a long-term research project in Luxor, Egypt.

About the talk: Virginia City is a dynamic, “living” ghost town, with Victorian-era architecture sprawled along the rugged, high desert slope of Mount Davidson in northern Nevada’s Virginia Range. The extant, ornate buildings reveal the gold and silver mining wealth produced by the surrounding Comstock Mining District. Over the past several decades, archaeologists and historians have teamed up to study the built and buried resources of this region—and the story of saloon archaeology in Virginia City represents one of those ventures. The physical traces of a handful of saloons present an opportunity to examine snapshots of life in a dynamic urban setting in the mining West. Indeed, saloons of the “Wild West” provided places for leisure and diversion from the hard labor associated with mining activities. Yet each drinking house had a unique story, revealing a more nuanced view of the economic and cultural diversity of Virginia City’s saloon scene, and reminding us of the ways in which the mining boomtown experience hold meaning and became different things for different people.

Thursday, July 14, 2010, 7:00 pm – Michael Nassaney: The Archaeology of the Fur Trade at Fort St. Joseph   

Michael S. Nassaney (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 1992) is a Professor of Anthropology at Western Michigan University (WMU). He has been involving community groups in Michigan archaeology since 1996. He directs the 36th annual WMU archaeological field school, one of the longest running programs in the Midwest. He is the principal investigator of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, an interdisciplinary program in community service learning that examines the history and archaeology of the fur trade and colonialism through excavation and public interpretation  at the site of Fort St. Joseph in Niles, Michigan. The project received the 2003 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation and the Historical Society of Michigan’s State History Award in the Educational Programs category in 2007. In 2011 the project was the winner of the Archaeological Institute of America's first Online Excavation Outreach Contest. In 2008 Nassaney was re-elected to serve a second three-year term as Secretary of the Society for Historical Archaeology, the world’s largest group of archaeologists devoted to the study of the recent past (A. D. 1400-present). He is also editor of Le Journal, the quarterly publication of the Center for French Colonial Studies and the book series, The American Experience in Archaeological Perspective (University Press of Florida). Among his recent publications is the co-edited volume, Archaeology and Community Service Learning (Society for Historical Archaeology and University Press of Florida).  

About the talk: When Western Michigan University archaeologists were invited to assist in locating a lost French fort along the banks of the St. Joseph River in Niles, Michigan, they unknowingly embarked on a long-term, multidisciplinary project to explore the importance of the fur trade and colonialism in the past and in the present. Subsequent investigations, under the auspices of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, have revealed artifact deposits, features, and architectural remains that provide insight into eighteenth-century daily life and identity formation at the edge of the Empire. Since the project's inception in 1998, public involvement has been central to the way the project is conceived and put into practice. I'll discuss some of the project outcomes for the community, and for our understanding of cultural interactions between Native peoples and their French allies.


Thursday, July 21, 2011, 7:00 pm – Lori Lee: Historical Archaeology of Memory, Race, and Landscape at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest  

Lori Lee is the Archaeology Lab Supervisor at Poplar Forest, the historic plantation established by Thomas Jefferson. Ms. Lee is completing her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Syracuse University. Her work in historical archaeology focuses on the materiality of slavery and race in the nineteenth century.  

About the talk: Ms. Lee’s talk will discuss the connections between documents, material culture, and narratives through an historical archaeological investigation of landscape, memory, and race at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation in central Virginia. Poplar Forest is an historic plantation established by Thomas Jefferson. The role of memory in constructing the physical and social landscapes formed from a system of institutionalized, race-based slavery in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries will be explored. The significance of these landscapes as frames of reference for representing these memories today is also examined.  


Background: 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.

The Vancouver National Historic Reserve 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 park partners 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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