When we think archaeology, we inevitably picture ancient ruins of great temples and massive stone buildings. Architecture, in a word. But those only select examples of the types of architecture that was common in the past. Peoples from various parts of the world used materials that did not always weather well, and so structures would be lost as time moved on. Though the buildings did not always remain, signs of human residence can be found during with careful research, use of technologies like GPR, and sometimes with excavation. This relationship between architecture and archaeology is what drew my interest for my final project, and while at Grand Ronde I decided to focus on how modern architecture and historical structures were both important to archaeologists, and to the community.
My focus revolved around two main structures, the search for the Molalla settlement by Cosper Creek, and Achaf-Hammi, the first plank house to be built on reservation land since the 1850’s. Through research I learned that issues such as resettlement and land tenure issues would have had a huge impact on what types of structures could be built on reservation land. Buildings do far more than offer shelter from the elements. In fact, buildings are often where culture, story, traditions and language are learned, experienced, and passed on. Therefore, it is not hard to realize how disrupting architectural traditions of a group of people can be an effective way to disrupt the flow of knowledge from one generation to the next.
At the same time, the impermanence of the structures built in the past would make the search for the exact location of old encampments difficult. This was the case with the search for the Molalla encampment, though maps and GPR images both pointed towards a particular area, the exact location has proven to be elusive.
The exploration on how different structures in different times would have been important to the community and story of Grand Ronde taught me about the importance and role of architecture, archeology and the stories the community passes forward in telling the complete history of a place.