Monday, November 16, 2015

MHAC 2015

The Mill City Museum could not have been a more apropos setting for this year’s Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference (MHAC) which was held on October 10-11, 2015. The conference was first held in 2005, envisioned by the senior editor of Le Journal, and has been hosted annually throughout the Midwest region ever since. With approximately 50 people in attendance, this year’s meeting was a resounding success for all those who attended.
Many of the themes for this year’s presiding; war and conflict, industry, immigration, and exploitation, were visible both in the museum’s content, and in the keynote address presented Friday night by Dr. Paul Shackle. His focus centered on the excavations and community involved with the site of the Lattimer Massacre. The Lattimer coal mine near Hazleton Pennsylvania was the site of a peaceful protest that turned tragic when 19 strikers were shot by the local sheriff and his posse.

Photo credit: Jeremy Nienow
Saturday Morning began with two rounds of “Ignite” style presentations (see appendix E for a full list of presentations and authors); each speaker was provided five minutes to discuss his or her topic. The themes for these talks expanded upon what was started by Paul Shackle the night before. Warfare and conflict was the topic of the first set of presentations, the focus being primarily on Fort Snelling and the Dakota Conflict. Industry, immigration, and exploitation were the concentrations for the second round of talks. After the presentations, a period of time was allocated so that attendees could tour the museum and surrounding area. After lunch the conference resumed with a session entitled “Knowledge Caf├ęs” which coincided with specific time set for poster displays. This portion divided those attending into groups of approximately six per table, and the speakers from the morning sessions sat one to a table. After a brief period of time, the speakers rotated which facilitated further conversation about the topics presented; the commitment to intimate discussion is a hallmark of this conference. The conference concluded with a few words from Dr. Michael Nassaney hailing the success of this conference and calling for volunteers to host next year’s gathering.