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!
                  Monday 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 into backfill. 

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!

                  I’ve 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 task.

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 there!

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