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Contact: Kimm Fox-Middleton, 360-816-6243
Contact: Aaron Ochoa, 360-816-6233
VANCOUVER, WA - Superintendent Tracy Fortmann has announced that the Fort Vancouver Village Grand Opening Celebration will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, 2010. This free event will be held at the site of the historic Village, located to the west of the reconstructed stockade at Fort Vancouver and north of the Land Bridge.
The event will coincide with the first day of the annual Brigade Encampment special event, and will officially open the new trails and replica employee houses in the Village area.
The event is family-friendly, and will include staff and volunteers in costume who will interpret the life of Hudson’s Bay Company employees in the Village’s two furnished houses. In addition, archaeologists will demonstrate field techniques and show how archaeology aids in public understanding of the site’s rich history.
The opening will be based around an informal talking circle ceremony, where members of the public, descendents of residents of the Village, and tribal representatives will be encouraged to share words of tribute, praise and blessing.
Prior to the event, at 9:00 a.m. costumed re-enactors portraying returning 1840’s fur brigadiers will be arriving at the park’s Columbia River waterfront and walking to the Village to start the 10:00 a.m. festivities. The public is welcome to join these “engages” across the Land Bridge or park at the fort parking lot (1001 E. Fifth St.) and walk to the Village event site.
The Fort Vancouver Employee Village was the home for many hundreds of Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) employees, their families, and visiting traders and travelers during the period of 1829 to 1860.
"Between 1829-1845, historical documents indicate that it was the most densely populated multi-cultural settlement in the Pacific Northwest," explained Fortmann, "with residents representing people from Europe, ancestors from 26 federally recognized Native American Tribes –spanning the continent from the Iroquois nation to Native Hawai’ian Islanders –and those of multi-ethnic origin, the Métis."
Ten years ago, the field that sits ¼ mile west of the reconstructed Fort Vancouver was a neglected, overgrown patch of blackberries and vagrant camps, with no way for the visiting public to access the site, and with little active interpretation.
Since then, the NPS partnered with the Confluence Project and the City of Vancouver and others to construct the Land Bridge, a pedestrian overpass over SR-14, reconnecting the Columbia River waterfront with the Employee Village.
In addition, the NPS has reconstructed two of the approximately 60 structures that once made up the Village, and has developed a number of interpretive programs for the area – including curriculum based education programs for area students.
The reconstructed houses are of the same architectural style as represented by historic images, accounts, and archaeological data. In addition, new wood fence lines have been added around these houses, reflecting an aspect of the historical landscape that is portrayed on some of the historical images of the Village.
The opening ceremony will also serve as the kick-off event for the annual Brigade Encampment, a two day event scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on June 19 & 20, 2010.
Complete with NPS re-enactors and volunteers portraying the lifeways of HBC fur brigade employees after their return from a nine-month fur trapping expedition, the Brigade Encampment will also feature youth programs developed through the park’s new Young Engage and Dame School living history immersion programs.
These programs will be set up away from the circle ceremony, and the visiting public will be allowed to walk through these re-enactment camps, as well as observe the circle ceremony.
More information about the history of the Village is available on the park’s website at: www.nps.gov/fova/historyculture/the-village.htm