This blog includes updates from the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project sponsored by Western Michigan University in partnership with the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, Support the Fort, Inc. and other community groups. The Project is dedicated to archaeological research, education, community service learning, and intensive public outreach. The Principal investigator of the Project is Dr. Michael Nassaney.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Baby Bye Bye Bye
Hanging out before the Open House
weekend the Fort St. Joseph crew held our annual Open House, an opportunity for
people from the community and anyone else who’s interested in the fort to come
out and learn all about the dig. There were also re-enactors, men and women who
not only dressed up in period garb but also slept in tents in Riverfront Park,
fired cannons, and prepared period food. It was an action-packed weekend full
of plenty to do, and 1800 people came out over the two-day period to enjoy the
activities and learn about everything we’d been doing on the site for the past
Jordan welcoming guests to Feature 14
a bit skittish around strangers, I found that I had a BLAST this weekend. It
was really exciting when I was down on the site itself and answering questions
about our units and the fireplace that we’d uncovered for the public to see.
Everyone who walked by was incredibly interested, and even though I probably
talked quite a few ears off, I think that everyone who stopped by enjoyed the
experience as much as I did. And that really surprised me. I’d heard the
numbers from Dr. Nassaney – 2,000 visitors at the highest – and it was hard to
believe. Not that many people I knew really cared about archaeology. I was
happy to be proven wrong by everyone who came out this weekend to check out the
site and all of the great work we’ve been doing.
Captain Leah Sparrow
the Open House itself was incredible, I have to admit that one of my favorite
parts of the weekend was the night we spent with the re-enactors. Leah and I
headed over to the camp Saturday afternoon and were greeted with friendly
smiles and a variety of drinks to choose from. One of the re-enactors, Stefan,
showed us his British redcoat, and it wasn’t long before the both of us had
costumes of our own. Leah and I made dashing voyageurs (though Leah
looked more like she’d just stepped off the set of Pirates of the Caribbean
5). When the rest of the gang arrived, they too got all dressed up, and soon we
were just as home in the camp as the real re-enactors were. We had a huge feast
of period food laid out for us with meat pie, banana bread, potatoes and ham,
and all sorts of delicious dishes. Then we were given the opportunity to work
off our meal in some authentic period dancing, which to me still seems very
similar to a square dance, which is the sort of stuff we learn in high school
in upstate New York. Anyway, we had a blast with the dances (even if we got
lost a lot) and the night got even more exciting when we participated in some
tomahawk throwing. It turned out that a few of the girls were naturals, though
almost everyone sunk their tomahawk once, including Dr. Nassaney himself.
Though I didn’t get to throw much, I did get to fire a replica of an 18th
century musket, thanks to a very cool re-enactor named Ramone. Sue got quite a
few shots off too, and she sure looked cool!
our fun time with the re-enactors and the Open House weekend ended, as did
today, our last day in the field doing archaeological work. Tomorrow we finish
backfilling our units and packing up the site and the house where we’ve been
living for the duration of the field season. And then, once all that’s done,
we’re back to Kalamazoo.
It’s been a
wild ride, and I just want to thank the whole Niles community for being so
awesome; and here’s to all of those families who came out last weekend to learn
more about archaeology and the old French fort that’s been the focus of excavation
for the past ten plus years. Thanks for everything!