Archival Research

 

 

For my leaIMG_0143dership project I was in charge of doing archival research on the school house associated with the Confederation of Grand Ronde. For this project I went through the archives downloaded on a program called Laserfiche. I was able to find documents from 1863-1920 relating to different aspects of school life during the time period in which the agency school was in operation. I found documents on the people the school hired, stories written by people who attended and taught at the school, and official documents and communications between the US Secretary of Interior and the Grand Ronde BIA Superintendent.

Archival research is based upon people’s testimony and provides interesting information about practices we might not see in the archaeological record, like how the school ran and how it affected people’s’ experiences while attending the schoolhouse. I divided the letters into categories that provided a way for people to see the documents in a way that allows future researchers to answer questions about the school. I also categorized the documents into a section on stories people have about the school, materials found in and around the school, policies enacted by the school, and food.

Archival work is often the place that archaeologist start in order to come up with a project. To find a site archaeologists may look through maps and documents to discover its location and history. Archival work also provides a framework of what you may find in a site and provides context of an area. However, it does have its limitations. Only people who are literate can write, and often the only documents that are archived are ones that are deemed “important.” These documents are usually written by people in power who write about Native Americans in a negative light. So it is important to understand the context of the documents themselves, and to read them in light of the biases and prejudices of the documentary record. In doing archaeology alongside archival work, there is an added opportunity: you may be able to trace individuals’ and community traditions in a culturally restrictive atmosphere such as that of the schoolhouse setting.

I provided information on the food at the school based correspondence between the superintendent of the school and the US Secretary of Interior. Since we are excavating a privy we may be able to observe coprolites inside and compare the written documents with the archaeological record to answer research questions about the school. In one of the documents, a teacher mentions how she was having a problem with students skipping school to go berry picking and hunting game. It would be interesting to see if there is any evidence of berries or fauna remains inside the privy. Looking at the archaeological evidence along with archival records can help get a sense of how students helped keep traditions alive despite living in a culturally restrictive environment. Check out my blog post at https://wp.me/p61aD2-s8.

Works Cited

Lonner, A. C. “Department of the Interiors, Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to The Superintendent, Grande Ronde School, Oregon. 7 May 1901. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR. Finance 23825/1901 Reproduced at the National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle)

United States. Office of Indian Affairs Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863 G.P.O., [1863]

Food of the Agency School house between 1863-1905

This video outlines the food offered at the Agency School House according to the archival documents written about the time (1863-1905). It includes letters written to the Superintendent, Andrew Kershaw, reports written by Andrew Kershaw, and reports by C.M Sawtelle. If the video is paused you can see how food was being used and the importance it had on the interpretation of “civilizing” the Native Americans.

 

Works Cited
Accessed from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Archives using LaserFiche, July 2016.

J., M. S. “Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to Superintendent Indian School. 19 Feb. 1901. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR. Finance An.est. 1902. Reproduced at the national Archives-Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle)

Larrabee, C. J. “Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to Superintendent, Grande Ronde School, Oregon. 15 Apr. 1905. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR.

Lonner, A. C. “Department of the Indian Interior, Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to The Superintendent, U. S. Indian School, Grandronde, Oregon. 20 Aug. 1900. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR. Finance 38675/1900 Authy 66909 Reproduction at the National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle).

Lonner, A. C. “Department of The Interior Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to The Superintendent Grand Ronde School, Or. 13 June 1902. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR.

Lonner, A. C. “Department of the Interiors, Office of Indian Affairs.” Letter to The Superintendent, Grande Ronde School, Oregon. 7 May 1901. MS. Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Grand Ronde, OR. Finance 23825/1901 Reproduced at the National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle).

Kershaw, Andrew. Report Concerning Indians in Oregon, Report of Superintendent in Charge of Grande Ronde Agency. Rep. no. 352. Grande Ronde:, 1900. Print

United States. Office of Indian Affairs Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863 G.P.O., [1863]

United States. Office of Indian Affairs Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1902 Part I G.P.O., [1902]

United States. Office of Indian Affairs Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1905 Part I G.P.O., [1905]

Chinuk Wawa or English

 

When looking for the stories of the past there are many places to look. We can observe cultural material and try to figure out how they were used in the past. We can look at the writings of people in the past through historical archives. We can look at plants to understand past uses of places. We can also look at the the etymology of words. These words provide us with a narrative. In English, these words are often associated with introduced materials into our culture. Pizza is borrowed from Italy. Anime is borrowed from Japan. These words show a narrative of trade, not trade of just items, but trade of ideas and cultures.

Chinuk Wawa was the language franca of trade along the Columbia River. It was heavily influenced by all the languages of people who used it to communicate. Prior to European contact, the language was influenced by Kalapuyan, upper Chinook, Salishan, and many other languages. After contact with European and American explorers, traders, and settlers elements of French and English became incorporated into the language.

Most commonly, English and French words entered the vocabulary that were associated with each of those communities or were unique to the trading relationships established with them. For example, the Chinuk Wawa word for ship is ‘Ship’. This may be because ships were introduced to the Chinook by the British.
The word for book in Chinuk Wawa, is ‘buk’. Along with these words, these products—buk, K
hetəl (kettle)—entered into trade and the daily lives of Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest. By bringing the English word into the language it provides an element of metalanguage into the word.  For example, a kettle is associated with English culture that brings to light a narrative of kettles in the language.

Other words introduced or adapted into Chinook Wawa from English are gul (gold), hickchəm (Hankerchief), fitəl (fiddle), haws (house), shush (shoes), lishat (shirt), stakhins (stockings),  and Shakholat (chocolate).

The word bridge is another term and concept the Chinook people borrowed from English. Before contact with the Europeans, bridges weren’t present within the Chinook territories. In a story Vincent Mercier recorded an interview with John B. Hudson. Hudson says “Hílu uk ‘bástən ‘brích’ínatay uk tsəqw.” Which translates into “there was no such thing as what whites called a “bridge” going across the river. This demonstrates how the words came into being within the Chinuk language.

Language provides a different way for us to observe a culture. It allows us to see influences of others into a culture without having to excavate. Through language we can see how trade was used to change the Chinuk world and language. If you wish to learn the Chinuk Wawa language there is an app called “Chinuk Wawa.”

Bibliography:

A Thornton Media Production Chinuk Wawa App Thornton Media, Inc. Grande Ronde Departments of Land and Culture, 2014.  

Zenk, Henry B., Comp., Chinuk Wawa (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon) University of Washington Press, 2012.

About me

About me
Nathanael is a person who does things with archeology. He is an undergrad majoring in anthropology. His mother described him as a “pretty neat child.” His sister wrote on a Instagram “he is the best brother eva <sic>.” From humble beginnings a hero was born. Destined to save the world. Friends and acquaintances commemorate this day by wishing him a happy birthday on Facebook. He was born in the exotic lands of Thailand. Raised by parents he learned to talk, walk, and write papers teachers deemed above average with granting him an A+. He likes to think about smart people things like civil rights, minority empowerment, feminism, politics, morality, religion, and much more to trick people into thinking he is educated. He has a basic understanding of Thai, Isaan, Spanish, and English. In his free time he likes to do fancy things like watch documentaries, meditate, sleep, and learn languages.