Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Resources of the St. Joseph River

My name is Samantha Sprague, and like my fellow classmates that have posted before me, I am a WMU student and a part of Anthropology in the Community for the Spring 2016 semester. I am a Biology Major and Anthropology Major at the moment, but plan to change to being an Anthropology Major and Biology Minor.  Our class has been tasked with creating panels to expand the education and interest in the history of the archaeological site of Fort St. Joseph. Topics including transportation, industry, native uses, modern uses and the resources that are provided by the river. Knowledge on these topics has been acquired through speaking with community members, going through historical documents and maps, and through extensive research on our part.

Natives gathering rice
            My partner, Anne, and I are working on the importance of the vast resources that are provided by the St. Joseph River and their importance to both the Natives that once lived in the area as well as to the settlers who came and stayed at the fort. While there are many river resources we could bring up, we have focused our study down to plants and animals that have left archaeological evidence at the fort and surrounding area. These include plants such as wild rice and cattails, to animals such as lake sturgeon, muskrat, beaver, clams and aquatic birds. So far through our research Anne and I have found that these resources were important as both a source of food but also in the fur trade between the settlers and the Natives and was important in creating bonds between these two groups. The river was and still is an important resource for the people living around it.  We are still doing some research, but for the most part, our class is beginning to wrap things up and prepare our panels for August!

-Samantha Sprague

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