Diggin’ my tribal history

I am a Native American tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Since I can remember my father has tried to enhance my knowledge of my Native American heritage. He would take me to pow-wows, teach me traditional beadwork and show me how to cook classic Native American foods. When I was younger I loved engaging in these activities, but around sixteen years old I began separating myself from the culture. Like most teenagers, I began concentrating more on school, friends and social activities. When I was eighteen I moved to San Diego for College to pursue an archaeology degree. I took all of the offered archaeology courses, but quickly ran out of classes due to the schools lacking archaeology program. I decided to go back home to Portland and enroll in Portland State University’s archaeology program. I have now been at PSU for 2 years and will be graduating in the Fall of 2015. Moving back to Portland has not only allowed me to enhance my skills in archaeology but has allowed me to reconnect with my cultural ties. Through the means of random luck, I got in touch with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) at Grand Ronde. I had the opportunity to meet up with all of the members of the THPO office, one of which was a prestigious archaeologist. They informed me about an indigenous archaeology field school that was taking place on the Grand Ronde tribal land. Once I heard about the field school I could hardly believe that I would have the opportunity to practice archaeology on my own tribal land. I felt as though this was a chance to finally piece together the two things that I am most passionate about in my life. I am now four weeks into the archaeology field school and I could not be happier. I have had the privilege of learning about the Grand Ronde tribes post treaty history and how that has shaped them as a tribe today. I learned about their society, modern culture, and traditional practices. Having the opportunity to be physically present on the tribal grounds has given me a feeling of comfort. I have been wanted to reconnect with my cultural heritage, but felt like archaeology was something that was more important to pursue. Being a part of this field school has not only allowed me to embrace and learn more about my Native American heritage, but has given me the chance to apply archaeological concepts to my own tribe and community of people.