Field School: Indigenous Collaboration, First Foods, and Cultural Resource Management at Indian Creek

Field School: Indigenous Collaboration, First Foods, and Cultural Resource Management at Indian Creek

This summer of 2023 I will be one of the instructors/project team in the field school that is developed in partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Washington State University Department of Anthropology, and Far Western Anthropological Research Group. It is located in the Kalispel homelands in Pend Oreille County, Washington State. The Kalispel’s Indian Creek Forest is a deeply special landscape that is a center of education and recreation, as well as a center point for the Tribe’s environmental management and ecological restoration efforts, as detailed in a recent feature by Sustainable Northwest.

The project’s aim is to develop a collaborative research model that incorporates Tribal values and needs, while also training students to work for and with Indigenous communities, to better understand the context of their work. In addition to learning about Tribal history and culture, the research helps to document Kalispel land use and foodways at the Indian Creek site through the excavation of numerous earth oven features containing fire-cracked rock. Initial radiocarbon dating of cores at these features suggests that they were used over a span of 5000 years.

The 2023 field school is bound by three prevailing themes:

1) emphasizing “decolonized” approaches to archaeological method and theory that promote ethical collaboration with descendant communities;

2) exploring questions about historical ecology, “first foods”, diet, health, food sovereignty, and family decision making and cooperation through an archaeological understanding of earth oven technologies and traditions, landscape use and Traditional Ecological Knowledge;

3) training students in CRM policies and practice, which is not only necessary for a career in archaeology in countries like the US, but is directly applicable to other heritage and resource management professions, both nationally and internationally.

The fieldwork has been featured in the news, such as in the KHQ News, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane Public Radio, KREM News, WSU Insider, and KIRO 7 News.