Coming home to my own bed and my own coffee maker was great. I do miss the ravens cawing in the morning, though I’m sure fellow classmates would disagree. Looking back on the time I spent in Grand Ronde I came to a few conclusions. First of all I learned a ton. An understatement for sure, but accurate nonetheless. I learned about the area and community I was a part of for the duration of FMIA. The Grand Ronde Tribal Historic Preservation Office and wider community offered a wealth of knowledge about practice, place, person, and time. If you have read any of the other blog posts about the technology we encountered and learned how to use in the field you would know we had our work cut out for us.
Second conclusion-you can’t turn archaeology off in a person. A few days ago I finally came home and the next afternoon my brother and I went fishing out on the river. We hadn’t talked much while I was in Oregon so we were catching up, or mostly I was asking a million and one questions about the river and the fishing spot we were headed out to. Until finally, Kyle (my brother) turned around with a grin and said, “I am so happy they finally got you to stop questioning if a question is stupid to ask, now you ask all the questions.” We laughed and that’s when it hit me, I’ve always asked questions, not they are just more direct and come in a sequential pattern. As an archaeologist, how you approach a situation or discovery is critical. Asking good questions, in the right order may affect how you perceive the situation and decide on the next steps to take.
Third, not everyone is interested in archaeology. Yes, I know. Shock. Gasp. It’s alright. Since coming home I’ve explained what FMIA is and what we had done this summer multiple times. Coming from living and working with people who love archaeology to living with my family whose interests range from farming, carpentry, hairstyling to accounting has been a learning experience. I had to remember to explain archaeology in terms that connected with everyone’s different interests in order to make it relevant to how they see the world. Everyone is interested in something, my team and I happen to fall into the category of those who have archaeological interests. I got a one minuet explanation of what I did this summer down rather quickly. This was of course after a few conversations where my audience had glazed over eyes and a lost look to their person. Elevator speech down. Boom.
Lastly, I conclude with thanks. A massive thank you that will still fall short of how much the five weeks spent in Grand Ronde meant to me. FMIA was welcomed, fed, and granted permission to work on tribal property. We were research partners. I am immensely grateful to be a part of a field school where trust and relationships have been established. I know that this field school will have impact on how I conduct research in the future and it will all (hopefully) be community based.

Seeing With My Eyes

Sight. With a field of work that depends on the interpretations your eyes make, it’s relevant, right? Step back for a moment, think about the anomalies in life that make up what we see; the ways in which we recognize and can see differences in relief.

In the last three weeks I’ve learned that I see what I am looking for, but seeing what I am supposed to see as an archaeologist is difficult.

We’ve spent two weeks learning how to use a compass, operate a total station, a GHSS GPS receiver and even a GSSI Ground Penetrating Radar in order to produce detailed maps of both the surface of archaeological sites and their subsurface deposits. The newer technology provides scientific byways of acquiring knowledge of a site, but oral histories, stories and legend are other culturally rich ways of learning of place and practice. While learning how to use these newer technologies we’ve poured over maps and photos planning the best ways to study a place with as minimal impact as possible. All of these techniques are avenues of sight we are developing and learning how to use.

Using the total station paired with Field Genius, a mapping software program, we can see exactly where a point in space once we’ve measured it. Likewise, using Terrasync paired with a GNSS GPS receiver, we can see the lines, points, and polygons, we have created while recording a place. Learning how to use these tools has been an equivalent to drinking straight from a fire hose. More information you thing is possible to process, but the awesome thing about experiential learning is that you do process all of the information given to you. This may not happen in the lab, but in the field, jumping into surveying using these techniques, opened my eyes. No pun intended.

For example we left Grand Ronde, OR, for a field trip in the Willamette National Forest to assist the CTGR THPO and the U.S. Forest Service in a surface pedestrian survey. Our instructors had us line up two meters apart and look for anything that didn’t belong. Here’s that experiential learning coming into play as well as the problem of seeing what I’m supposed to see as an archaeologist and tribal historic preservationist. After a few frustrating hours of no finding anything. I finally found something: a rusty hatchet. By the style and wear I’m guessing it was Forest Service issued perhaps a year or two ago. The entire experience made me laugh. You know why? The hatchet didn’t belong. It was neither a representative of the recent occupation by an unauthorized gathering, nor related to the past practices of Mollala, Kalapuya, and Klamath peoples.

I realized I had become so focused on finding a particular thing; I was missing everything around me. The absence of something can tell you just as much about a place as the things present. I was looking for lithic debitage, expecting to find obsidian flakes or tools, but I was missing the bigger picture. Briece Edwards, Principal Archaeologist for the CTGR THPO, reiterate over and over, “that once you understand practice, you understand place.” I realized I wasn’t seeing the site as an active place with resources that still used today.

In that moment of discovery, the seeing of the sight became much more than surveying and mapping the mountain meadows around me. It became seeing for the first time how a place becomes and remains important. It is not only the objects found or holes dug that make a place or practice important, but also the viewsheds, the freshwater springs, the trees surrounding the meadows, and the visits to a place that leave no material traces.

This field trip was a way for me to begin the process of seeing place as living things that have history, artifacts, meaning but also their future. Surveying was a new skill that helped facilitate this. I couldn’t have learning this in a classroom or a lab. It was something I had to learn in the field; making mistakes in order to learn how to constantly adjust my focus so that I wouldn’t miss the bigger picture of a sight, and every sight is worth truly seeing.

Meet Kandice

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 8.05.39 AMKandice Joyner is a senior at the University of Washington. While in the city she is earning her Bachelors Degree in Anthropology with a focus in Archaeological Sciences and a minor in American Indian Studies. Kandice is a farm kid from the Okanogan Valley in North Central Washington. She grew up driving tractor, riding horses, and raising hay on her family farm. A country girl at heart she is in the outdoors as much as she can. You’ll find her by a campfire with friends or hiking the many trails in Washington.

The outdoors is a big part of why she loves what she studies, but it’s not the only thing. Kandice loves stories; she enjoys listening to people, hearing what they see, and how they interpret the world around us. Not all stories have happy endings, but they do have lessons. Even happy ending stories do.

Oral histories, myth, and beliefs are avenues in which we learn these lessons. The lessons and stories are becoming “validated” tools for reevaluating sites and landscapes, to bring more information about place and personhood. These stories and histories are just as important today as they ever have been. Kandice is passionate about how stories and people collide, especially the cause and effect of place, person, and story on each other. She is passionate about working with people to collectively write a better, multi-vocal story for our children’s children about the land, our people, and our world.

This is where her story and yours collide. She is here as a guest, a student, and hopefully soon a friend, during her stay at field school. The FMIA project was something she knew she wanted to be at while Prof. Gonzalez explained what it was in class last fall. Community based archaeology is the methodology she hopes and aims to work by after graduation.