I absolutely love camping and archaeology, so it was not a difficult decision for me to sign on to the FMIA trip to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. When I left I was full of excitement about what we would learn and accomplish through this experience, though I was not exactly sure what to expect when I would arrive. As a student of anthropology focusing on archaeology for the last two years at the University of Washington (UW), I have learned a lot about ethics, theory, and methodology within classroom and lab settings, however, I had yet to apply any of what I have learned in the field. I truly believe there is no greater way to obtain knowledge than through application, and what I have taken from my experience living, learning, and working in Grand Ronde went above and beyond my expectations.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am very interested in landscape management past, present, and future. As it turned out, that interest was shared by Dave Harrelson, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, who was so kind as to provide additional related materials for me, such as The Role of Indigenous Burning in Land Management (Kimmerer and Lake, 2001) and Preserving Native American Places (Cook, 2015), in addition to a wide variety of readings related directly to the Grand Ronde Community, including Eirik Thorsgard’s (2010) Digging for My Ancestors’ Things, references which I am continuing to learn from and enjoy now that I am back home in Bremerton, WA. Dave has a deep love for and a wealth of knowledge regarding forests and forestry practices, having spent a large part of his life working in the logging industry and as a US Forest Service Fire Fighter, and I am forever grateful that he was willing to put his time and effort into providing these resources to help further my education.
A great deal of knowledge regarding human perceptions of and connections to landscapes was also bestowed upon me thanks to Briece Edwards, Principle Archaeologist for the tribe, concepts which he shows a greatly nuanced understanding, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent some time picking his brain about the subject. I feel that I have come away with a heightened awareness of not only the meanings of landscapes, but also how those meanings fluctuate across time, space, and both individual and shared experiences. Briece led many field trips over our five week stay, providing us with additional knowledge about the local area, serving to expand how we conceptualize both past and present associations between the land and the peoples indigenous to the Willamette Valley. The importance of understanding variable world views cannot be understated when practicing an indigenous archaeology and I feel that this was a deeply fundamental part of our education.
When I initially signed onto the FMIA summer trip, I knew that I would be in good hands with Professor Sara Gonzales, who I have been fortunate enough to have learned from while attending classes at UW. She is a wonderful teacher and overall charismatic person, and served us all well through our education and fulfilling so many of our basic needs back at camp. She is very knowledgeable about indigenous archaeology practices and methodology, and cares very much about the communities that she serves, both indigenous and archaeological. Sara and her assistant, UW graduate student Ian Kretzler taught us to utilize a wide variety of associated technologies, more than I could have dreamed of when I signed on. We were very fortunate to have had full access to GPS, GPR, drone imaging, Total Stations, and Tough-books for processing in addition to our shovels, trowels, augers, and screening stations. Ian was also a pleasure to work with and learn from, he proved himself to be incredibly knowledgeable, and was also a blast to have at camp in the after hours where as a group we played a wide variety of games to pass the time. We were also incredibly fortunate to have had such amazing meals prepared for us each day by Alistair, Lloyd, and their amazing kitchen staff, who put a great deal of thought and care into each and every one. Over a five week period, we never had the same dinner twice! In addition to the meals, they were absolutely wonderful folks to visit with when picking food up each day.
I couldn’t have hoped for a better team to be involved with than those who made up the FMIA 2015 field school. Each and every individual maintained a positive attitude and each came with their own unique skill-sets and interests. I feel that I learned something valuable from each person involved, and I am grateful for the friendships resulting from our trip to Grand Ronde. If given another opportunity to relive this experience, I would do it all over without hesitation.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall and Frank Kanawha Lake
2001 The Role of Indigenous Burning in Land Management. In Journal of Forestry. November: Pp. 36-41
2010 Digging for My Ancestors’ Things. In Being and Becoming Indigenous Archaeologists George Nicholas, ed. Walnut Creek, Left Coast Press.
Cook, William J.
2015 Preserving Native American Places: A Guide to Federal Laws and Policies that Help
Protect Cultural Resources and Sacred Sites. National Trust for Historic Preservation