FMIA 2015: An Experience I Will Forever Cherish

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 year501s 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 Man076agement (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 Archae500ologist 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 w502ell 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 gre434at 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
Thorsgard, Eirik
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

Digging for an Answer

In light of all the new technologies available to archaeologists today, augering may seem to be a fairly dated technology. So why choose the laborious task of augering over the array of other methods and technologies at hand?

There are actually a variety of reasons that augering continues to be useful as an archaeological method. For example, it is particularly useful in low-visibility areas such as forests, where aerial photo and surface survey opportunities may be limited. Augering also gives us the ability to cover a wide area in a short time while revealing what is happening below ground level.

In order to attempt locating a known, though yet unidentified site of an Umpqua encampment dated to the mid-late 1800’s, we have enlisted the use of augering to help verify its location and test the validity of a map created by Lt. WB Hazen of the reservation in 1856. While many land features changed since Hazen created the map, the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) has used a combination of LiDAR and GIS imagery to pinpoint specific landforms where the encampment was likely to have been.

There are many who feel that augering is fairly invasive archaeological method, as it does churn up earth, and thus carries the potential for damage to a site and its artifacts or features. As a field project focused on minimally invasive techniques, why include augering as a methodological choice? This is a question that archaeologists must face in all of our chosen survey strategies and is often one of the most difficult to defend.

While augering does come with a certain set of downfalls, it ultimately helps decrease the need for larger excavations or test-trenches being dug, as augering gives us a quick snapshot of what is happening below the surface and allows us to move on from areas of low interest with as little damage as possible with the technologies currently at hand. Used in conjunction with the images and maps of the Umpqua encampment study area we were able to further narrow the area of our auger survey and use it as an alternative to other more invasive methods of site testing.

The augering method we have chosen for this particular location entails the use of as 20 centimeter (cm) diameter auger used to create test-holes 1 meter (m) deep from the surface. Every 20cm of depth from the surface, the soil picked up in the auger body is visually examined, the sample is contained, and further examination in a lab setting will follow. Lab based examination is done in order to detect inclusions such as small artifacts as well as faunal and floral remains that may not be readily visible to us in the field.

Each test hole is a minimum of 10m apart, covering a total area of about 60m x 100m. Once we have completed creating these test-holes, they will be mapped using Trimble GNSS Receivers in order to preserve the site-survey information. This information will serve to prevent needless augering of the same area in the future if the site remains unidentifiable once our initial survey is complete. If the site is identified through augering as hoped, we will have avoided enlisting the use of more invasive methodologies as previously described.

Last, and most importantly, this work will help to answer a variety of questions posed by the THPO regarding the historic Umpqua encampment site, such as where it is located, what activities took place there, and the ways in which Umpqua peoples relocated to the reservation began to make a new home and community for themselves. Answering the questions posed by the community most affected by archaeological research is the ultimate goal of all Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR), and one that we hope to meet in every aspect of the work that we do.

About Jessi

My name is Jessica Boggs and I am an undergraduate at the University of Washington majoring in Archaeological Science. I am currently in my senior year and plan to continue my education within UW’s post-graduate Anthropology program. My interests include Pacific Northwest history and prehistory, specifically the effects that climate change and coastal geomorphology has had on local landscapes and human settlement, and the relevance of past anthropogenic landscapes in relation to current and future management processes involving forests, fish, and wildlife.

In addition to archaeological research, the existing wealth of knowledge preserved through tribal oral histories passed from generation to generation since time immemorial, has proven highly beneficial in planning for various aspects of landscape management, and an array of other topics.

I chose to enroll in the FMIA because it takes place in the Pacific Northwest region, and is a collaborative community based program with and for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. This environment offers a unique opportunity to learn archaeological research methods using a collaborative model, and places us in a position to work directly with and for the CTGR Tribal Historic Preservation Office.