Assess & Re-adjust a Short Digital Story

I was first thinking of doing my digital short story on the gradiometer’s setup, use, and data analysis, but while filming the gradiometer, the team encountered a lot of issues. By accident I got the opportunity to film those problems and ultimately I decided that documenting how they assessed and re-adjusted to the situation was a better story, and relatable within any profession. “Assess and Re-adjust” tells the story of how the FMIA gradiometer team met challenges through the prospective of the survey leader, Alejandre Barrera.


Revisiting Fort Yamhill

Inspired by the idea of agriculturally managed landscapes also known as Food Forests, this video explores the possibility of Fort Yamhill as a Food Forest. This concept of landscape is to decolonize and prioritize indigenous perspectives in how the land managed and used. Digital Story by Tiauna Cabillan

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.”


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.

The Importance of Playing Games in an Archaeological Field School

Mychaela  slowly pulls a  two  of  diamonds  towards  her,  no attention drawn her way. That  was the last of the set of twos in the deck of cards. Now she has to signal to her partner,  Ian,  to win the game. Almost instantly  Ian yells “KEMP!” And the other team flings their cards on the table and shouts “How are you so  stealthy!?”

This example is somewhat  exaggerated,  but I want to give a  snapshot of our life in camp. Kemp is one of the many games that we play after dinner and on the weekend. The games we play  are important because they are a key component in building a functioning  archaeological  team. Through verbal and non verbal communication in the games  facilitate, we are able to learn about and bond with our teammates. For example, we know from this little short story that Mychaela is very stealthy (I don’t know how that’s going to help in the field but it could come in handy?). We use this knowledge of our teammates to learn how to communicate with one another. Games also serve another important role.  We are able to lower our inhibitions enough to not only to show those around us who we are as individuals, but to also to abandon the biases we might have about other people. Our own hesitation and the biases we hold color our perceptions and judgments and stand in the way of creating open communication. The type of learning and knowing that happens through games like Kemp or Werewolf or CatchPhrase helps to break down these barriers.

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The FMIA team playing CatchPhrase. Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

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Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

The reason I am writing about this today is because I have anxiety and these components allow for a comfortable space where I can speak out instead of freaking out. I had so many professors and teachers that did not know how to make a comfortable work space, which always led to a terrible experience, not to mention an unbelievable amount of attention on how I should ask a question rather than clarifying my confusion. That is why building a community through the use of games is so important to me and I hope this blog will influence others to try to make a safe work environment for their students.

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Photo by Tiauna Cabillan, FMIA student.

Indigenous Methods in Archaeology: Catch-and-Release

This video explores an intensive surface collection method that Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology is implementing in its assessments of tribal cultural resources on the Grand Ronde reservation. Referred to as the Catch-and-Release method, it maximizes our ability to collect relevant site data while minimizing ground impact. Catch and Release is designed as part of a low-impact archaeological methodology that attempts to reduce harm to both tribal cultural resources and the contemporary tribal community by integrating cultural protocols and values into our field practice.

The Molalla Encampment as a Food Forest

When ethnoecologist Dr. Joyce Lecompte-Mastenbrook came to visit FMIA at Grand Ronde, she led a wonderful plant walk around the edges of the Molalla Encampment Site and showed us all the edible plants that surround the site. I had no idea that so many edible and medicinal plants were so close to where we had been working for weeks. During the plant walk she mentioned that the Molalla site was a permaculture Food Forest, which are permanent agriculturally managed places where people have access to food. I became really interested in the concept of Food Forests.
According to the Permaculture Institute, Food Forests are designed to meet the needs of the community as well as produce a habitat beneficial for wildlife and increased ecological resilience and diversity. The website discussed how Food Forests are not necessarily “natural” but are specifically designed and managed. One of the goals of permaculture is to regenerate degraded landscapes to their former health. An example of permaculture put into practice is the Beacon Hill Food Forest in Seattle, Washington. Their goals are similar to that of the Permaculture Institute in that they want to rehabilitate the local ecosystem while bringing the community together to grow their own food. The Beacon Hill Food Forest strives to follow permaculture methods while planning to plant for the needs of the diverse community. It also hopes to combine native plants with a mixture of other edible gardening plants.
Nisqually tribal member and Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Billy Frank Jr. also discusses the idea of Food Forests in his article Every Forest Once a Food Forest on Northwest Treaty Tribes. He discusses that for indigenous people, “all of Western Washington was once a food forest.” He also writes about how projects like the Beacon Hill Food Forest in Seattle are important because they are trying to repair the landscape from a condition that doesn’t allow for natural food forests and first foods to thrive. He hopes these projects include plants that have long been used by indigenous communities.
The Molalla Encampment Site is similar to what Billy Frank Jr. describes. While it is a public place that is frequently used by campers attending Grand Ronde powwows, it is in a fairly natural area and produces a large variety of co-existing edible plants that need minimal management. With its meadow-like managed state, the site also provides a productive environment for plants and animals (Joyce Lecompte-Mastenbrook). Molalla also includes Indigenous plants as well as introduced plants. For example, the site has Indigenous plants like trailing blackberries, service berries, and native crab apples but also has introduced Himalayan blackberries and pear trees. It’s interesting to think about how long these plants have been growing around Molalla and who might have planted and used them in the past.
Working on the topic of edible and medicinal plants at the Molalla encampment showed me that every forest can be a Food Forest if you know what you’re looking for and how to use it. It has made me think even more about how resources are everywhere and occur naturally. I definitely will keep this in mind when looking at landscapes in the future.
Check out some of the edible/medicinal plants at the Molalla Encampment in the video below:

Works Cited
Beacon Food Forest
N.d. Beacon Food Forest Permaculture Project. Beacon Food Forest., accessed July 19, 2016.

Frank, Billy Jr
2016 Every Forest Once a Food Forest. Northwest Treaty Tribes: Protecting Natural Resources for Everyone., accessed July 19, 2016.

Lecompte-Mastenbrook, Joyce
2016 Molalla Encampment Site Plant Walk. Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology Field School.

Permaculture Institute
N.d. Permaculture Resources. Permaculture Institute., accessed July 19, 2016.

Fort Vancouver Visit

Whenever I talk to my family while at the field school they always ask me what I am doing and what I am learning about. If I tell them that we went on a field trip that day they always seem shocked like they thought we would always be working outdoors learning about archaeological methods and strategies of excavation. While a big part of the field school is learning about these techniques, a large part is also about when and how to use archaeology to both include and benefit the wider public. Recently, we visited Fort Vancouver to learn more about this approach to archaeology.

At Fort Vancouver we met a team of archaeologists and their students who were practicing public archaeology. They were doing work in what is believed to be a WWI Spruce Mill. They explained their excavation methods to us. I noticed a lot of similarities and differences between the excavations being done at the schoolhouse and the mill. For example, logistically our excavation techniques are very similar. Their units consist of 1 x 4 meter trenches and larger 3 x 3 meter open area excavations. While our project with the Grand Ronde THPO emphasizes low-impact methods, we are using similar open-area excavation units to investigate a privy at the Grand Ronde School.

While the techniques of excavation are similar, the communities for which we are doing this work are different. The archaeologists of Fort Vancouver do their work to educate the public, while the work being done at the schoolhouse is part of an indigenous approach to archaeology. Therefore, the work we do through FMIA is directly informed by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s needs and cultural values. This means that all of the knowledge that is gained from working at the schoolhouse site would not be possible unless the tribe, THPO, and the archeologists doing the work had a respected trustful relationship.

Fort Vancouver uses different methods to inform the public about what they are doing. All of their work is on display to the park’s visitors and they regularly host family fun activities. Both the open lab display, where there is a large window that allows people to observe the students processing artifacts, and excavations outside the fort allow anyone to walk by and see what the team is doing and ask questions.

I thought it was interesting that Fort Vancouver has a children’s dig. It was explained that the artifacts were organized within mock excavation units by time. As the children dig in these units they first encounter mostly trash. As they dig further they find older items like a grenade, representative of the fort’s history a US Army base, and finally a hearth associated with the early fort. They explained how after the children have dug up the artifacts, they are returned and not kept. I thought this was an effective way to get children and the community involved with archaeology, and to learn at a young age that archaeologists do not keep what they find. An important aspect of public archaeology is engaging the general public and letting them know what’s going on. Fort Vancouver does this by working with the local news to help spread the word about what they are doing.

It was nice to see archaeological work in a different setting, and to see the methods being used to include the community.

Expanding Our Sea of Islands

In Our Sea of Islands (1994), Epeli Hau’ofa proclaims that in the Pacific, we are not defined by the smallness of our islands, but the greatness of our ocean. The Pacific being a unifying trait that connects us all, an idea that departs from the western gaze of islands as isolated lands trapped by the ocean. Moana, our grandmother ocean is the one that breathes mana (spiritual force) into us and is the source for our many ways of life. It is through her that I connect our sea of islands to Turtle Island.

(ALL RIGHTS) July 2013. Canoe families representing Native American tribes from around the Pacific Northwest (including British Columbia, Alaska and Washington) travel from La Push to the Hoh River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula for the annual Canoe Journey. This year, canoeists paddled from their respective home villages and will finish at Point Grenville on the Quinalt Reservation. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann/TNC

(ALL RIGHTS) July 2013. Canoe pullers set out from LaPush on the northwest coast of Washington  Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann/TNC

In Tongan culture, we practice tauhi , which translates to nurishing space. This space is cultivated by shared ancestors or kin-like relationships that bonds us together. In order to sustain for generations to come, our traditions tell us to perform‘ofa (love), faka’apa’apa (respect), and fetokoni’aki (mutual assistance) for one another.

As I’m becoming more involved at Grand Ronde, I notice the ways that the community here views the ocean, as important and powerful. This similarity between our peoples is something I cannot ignore because we share the same ancestor, the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, I must nurture that space between us. During the Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology field school, I have chosen to explore fishing and voyaging traditions at Grand Ronde to connect Indigenous coastal peoples of the Northwest to Pacific peoples.

Canoe Journey is an inter-tribal voyage centered around healing and recovery of culture, traditional knowledge and spirituality. Contemporary practices like Canoe Journey help Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest maintain ties not only  to their ancestors, but Moana herself. Practice is situated in time and place informing traditional lifeways that connect people to places as well as ancestors. (time) and(space) are essential components that Pacific cultures are anchored within. ‘Ōkusitino Māhina, describes tā-vā theory as “the plural, cultural, collectivistic, holistic and circular nature of [Oceanic] thinking and practice about time and space” in which, “people are thought to walk forward into the past and walk backward into the future, both taking place in the present, where the past and future are constantly mediated in the ever-transforming present” (Māhina 2010:170). In Tongan culture, we view vaka (canoes) as vehicles of connection both to ancestors and the sea. In conversation and dialogue with Moana through vaka, features or places are thought of as ancestors themselves. Therefore, a genealogy is created through practice.

I would like to extend this understanding of navigating the ocean to link both Canoe Journey and the Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) Hōkūleʻa as indigenous seafaring practices that bind our peoples together. Past participants of Canoe Journey have also included Kanaka Maoli and Māori as well.

As Maui cast his hook to pull up Tonga into creation, my research culminates the in the production of Indigenous hooks in order to forge stronger ties between our peoples.



Hau’ofa, Epeli

1994. Our Sea of Islands. The Contemporary Pacific 6(2): 147-61.

‘Ōkusitino Māhina

  1. Tā, Vā, and Moana: Temporality, Spatiality, and Indigeneity. Pacific Studies 33(2): 168-202.

Rapport in Archaeology

I write this having just ate my second dinner for the night, full of salmon – The first salmon harvested by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde at Willamette Falls in over a hundred years, as they negotiate their hunting and fishing rights with an assortment of government agencies.

As I sat in the plank house, I couldn’t help but feel honored to be a part of a historic moment of healing and restoration. But opportunities such as these aren’t built from nothing. As part of the second year of the University of Washington’s field school, Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology (FMIA), I am able to benefit from a relationship built over several years between the university, the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), and members of the Grand Ronde community.

Guided by Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methods, the FMIA field school developed a research partnership with the THPO and members of the Grand Ronde community that contributes to the capacity of the THPO to care for tribal cultural resources on the Grand Ronde reservation. This partnership is based on the values of respect and reciprocity in order to cultivate a meaningful and lasting relationship between all parties. The viability of our research is assessed based on its potential contributions to everyone involved. While archaeology has a deep rooted colonial and extractive past, the CBPR framework (Atalay, 2012) encourages a long term positive exchange with indigenous communities. Who stands to benefit from our work as archaeologists, and how to involve the community, as well as their perspectives and ways of understanding are critically important.

Although the concept of building rapport in the field is not foreign to anthropology, its important in archaeology is often overlooked. Community-based and indigenous approaches to archaeology illustrate how forming long term, meaningful relationships with and to a community is a critical part of creating a respectful archaeological practice.

At this point, at the end of week five in the FMIA School, we have had opportunities to participate in important cultural practices fostered by the Grand Ronde community. We’ve taken a trip into the woods to harvest maple bark, an important resource for the manufacture of clothing.  The maple bark we were peeling, in this instance was going to be used to make maple bark skirts for the young dancers in the tribe. We learned how to peel the bark from the tree in a single piece, inserting our fingers between the bark and the trunk of the tree, and how to separate the flexible inner bark from he fragile outer bark that is prone to cracking and breaking.IMG_0100

IMG_0096We were also invited to the plank house for the opening ceremonies of the annual veterans powwow. This was our first time in the plank house, and as the tribe sang, danced, and pounded drums, learning how to act appropriately (what songs to stand for, and when to remove my hat) has largely been a crash course in mimicry. We’ve even been provided the opportunity to set up our field camp on the powwow grounds themselves.  These are opportunities grown out of the equitable relationship that the FMIA field school has built with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Experiencing culture as it is practiced, understanding it as living, gets us away from a reductionist history produced by Western science and archaeology that sees Indigenous cultures as timeless and stuck in the past. We’ve been provided the opportunity to experience Grand Ronde tribal culture as it is today, as a living, changing thing, not the static history of a textbook.

Experiences such as these, in addition to being fun, exciting, and a welcome break from the labors of field work, enlighten our perspectives and make us better archaeologists. Mutually beneficial, long term relationships aren’t just useful, they’re sustainable.

Works Cited

Atalay, Sonya (2012) Community-Based Archaeology: Research with, by, and for Indigenous and Local Communities. Berkeley: University of California Press.