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.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Claire's Adventures in Public Outreach and Excavation
Hi! My name is Claire Utrecht and I’m
a student of Western Michigan University currently in Niles for my first field
season at the Fort St. Joseph site. I’m actually doing something a little
different than most of the students here – I alternate between working in the
field and doing public outreach activities like passing out flyers around Main
Street, organizing things in our living space, and trying to help with things
for our upcoming Open House (only 2.5 weeks away!), so I have a mix of things
to tell you about.
This is a picture of the small seed bead I mentioned above!
was the only day this week I actually got to spend in the field due to
receiving a different assignment. But it was a good day, and in fact it was the
first day I found something in the unit that I share with my pit partners Joey
and Diana. Just a tiny white seed bead – but we were all pretty excited to have
found anything, and I was glad I noticed it in the dirt before it accidentally went
Since then, Joey and Diana have found a great variety of other
artifacts, including but not limited to, some animal teeth, lead shot, and
possibly a ring (to be determined).
I took this photograph of Joey and Diana excavating our unit!
spent the rest of the week working with another student, Sarah, on two projects
for the Open House. We are trying to put together a script for site tours, and also
designate which artifacts will be incorporated into the display cases. Putting
the script together has proven to be more difficult than I think we both
anticipated since there is such an abundance of information about the fort
available, and beyond even that, we’d like to include some other points of
interest near the site as well. So trying to get everything in order in a way
that the public will enjoy has been a challenge for us; but we feel up to the
As mentioned previously, we are
trying with the help of our fellow students to decide which artifacts will be displayed
at the Open House. Yesterday morning since it was raining, we were lucky enough
to have everyone gathered and had the opportunity to get their input on what
should be displayed for each community group that we’d like to represent as our
theme of this year’s Open House is community partnerships. So essentially, we
have five different groups from the local community for which we want to find
artifacts that are in some way relevant to that group, and arrange them to look
professional in a couple of nice cases. Some groups are apparently more
difficult to choose artifacts for than others, but with over 300,000 artifacts
having already been found at the site throughout the years, I know we’ll find
something that everyone can enjoy. Can’t wait to see you all