Support and Archeology
The Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) is dedicated to the
study, interpretation, and preservation of archeological resources
within the National Park System, particularly within the Midwest
Region of the National Park Service. The Midwest Region is
comprised of the thirteen states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas,
Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. Upon request,
MWAC provides its park support services to parks in other
regions of the National Park Service.
MWAC staff help NPS managers to protect, conserve, and interpret
archeological resources in parks. Activities that support
the archeological resource management needs of parks are coordinated
by the Park Archeology Program, which is comprised of three
teams: the Great Lakes Team, the Great Plains Team, and the
Archeological Information Management Team. The Great Lakes
and Great Plains teams conduct field investigations in parks
east and west, respectively, of the Mississippi River. The
Archeological Information Management Team organizes and maintains
databases that contain information resulting from archeological
field investigations conducted in parks.
Scroll down for details on activities carried out under the
Park Archeology Program or click below for examples of projects
MWAC has done in the Parks.
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
Trading Post Investigations: 1986-1988
Garden Coulee Site investigations:
Hopewell Culture National Historic Park
Hopeton Earthwork project:
Hopewell Archeology Newsletters:
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Archeology at the Battle
of the Little Bighorn
Voyageurs National Park
People of the Thick Fir Woods:
Bois Forte Chippewa Occupation
Archeology Program and related activities:
- Archeological inventory investigations. MWAC staff conduct
field investigations designed to increase baseline information
about archeological resources in parks. Inventory studies
are aimed at the identification and recordation of previously
unknown archeological resources, and/or evaluation of the
nature and significance of known resources. Also included
are assessments of site condition and preparation of parkwide
archeological overviews and assessments. Such studies are
part of the NPS Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program
(SAIP), a long-term effort to increase baseline knowledge
of archeological resources on NPS lands. In addition to
traditional methods of archeological survey and excavation,
inventory research often frequently employs techniques of
geophysical exploration such as magnetic field intensity
surveys, electrical resistivity surveys, and others.
- Data recovery investigations. MWAC staff conduct field
investigations designed to recover data from known sites
that are unavoidably threatened with damage or destruction
as a result of planned development or construction activities.
These are conducted in consultation with State Historic
Preservation Officer in the state where the investigation
takes place, and, depending on the nature of the development/construction
undertaking, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
- Professional review and advice. MWAC staff review a variety
of draft planning and management documents to insure that
the effects of proposed undertakings and management actions
on archeological resources are appropriately considered.
On occasion, MWAC staff also assist formal planning efforts
in which archeological resources are particularly relevant,
such as General Management Plan Studies and Special Resource
Studies. MWAC staff receive hundreds of queries each year
from park staff seeking information and recommendations
on a wide variety of archeological resource management issues.
- Archeological information database management. MWAC updates
and maintains the Archeological Sites Management Information
System (ASMIS) information for most Midwest Region parks.
ASMIS is a database that provides management information
about individual archeological sites in NPS units. MWAC
also compiles Cultural Sites Inventory (CSI) information
summaries for each park. The CSI incorporates information
based on ASMIS, Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) technology. These databases are
maintained by MWAC's Archeological Information Management
- Coordinatation of Archeological Resources Protection Act
(ARPA) permit applications. MWAC receives applications for
ARPA permits from persons who desire to conduct archeological
research in Midwest Region parks, and coordinates the review
of such applications by park managers and MWAC staff.
- Curation of park-related archeological collections and
archives. MWAC catalogs, stores, and cares for archeological
collections and related paper and magnetic records from
most parks in the Midwest Region and some parks in the Intermountain
Region as well. This activity is performed by the Collections
- MWAC staff interpret the results of archeological investigations
by presenting talks to school groups and civic organizations
and by writing interpretive publications aimed at lay audiences.
As requested by park staff, they also help plan public interpretation
efforts in individual parks.