Greetings from a very hot Lowell, Idaho! We have completed the first week on the second field season of the Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project and have survived torrential rain, an unexpected high water level of the creek we need to cross, and intense heat. However, we have done a pretty exceptional job considering the challenges and made great progress.
This year we have two staff members besides myself (Stacey Camp) helping to direct the project. Laura Ng is our Assistant Field Director/Crew Chief, and she has worked at two former Japanese American incarceration sites: Amache (Granada) and Manzanar. She is writing her MA thesis on Manzanar and should be finishing up at the University of Massachusetts Boston soon. Jessica Goodwin is our Laboratory Field Manager/Crew Chief and is currently working on her MA at the University of Idaho. She worked with me on the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga Public Archaeology Project last summer, and is writing her thesis on the archaeology from that project. Kali Warren is our resident Laboratory Director for this summer and did an absolutely fabulous job organizing, cleaning, and loading equipment for us to take to Kooskia – this was a huge organizational job and she deserves lots of kudos for doing such a great job. Kyla Fitz-Gerald also served as a graduate student Crew Chief intern this summer and was a great help during the first week of the project. She made this great video of the first week of the project:
We also have two undergraduate interns – Kristen Tiede and Lawrence Shaw – joining us this summer on a Key Fund Grant through the University of Idaho’s College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.
Our first week was an adventure. The staff – Laura, Jessica, Kyla, and me (and Kali while we were in Moscow) – packed up the van last Monday and headed out to Kooskia on Monday afternoon. We got into Kooskia late in the evening and then spent the next day organizing equipment, unpacking, visiting the site, and doing a staff orientation. During our site visit it rained, and the creek water level was higher than it was last summer in 2010. This posed a challenge for getting across the creek. In addition, we discovered that the cable we had been using had disappeared, meaning that we had nothing to stabilize us while crossing the creek. This made me nervous, so we enlisted the help of a local who does horse treks and pack trains. He got a rope up for us, which solved part of the problem. The creek was also really cold when we arrived (since then it has warmed up), so we bought a wet suit to keep us warm when crossing.
Three Rivers Resort, which is where we are staying, was kind enough to loan us life jackets as another safety measure. The creek is not incredibly deep, but it is enough to make us worry just a little bit more than the summer of 2010. Our students helped blow up a boat and create a pulley system that allows us to move equipment across the creek with the boat. The boat might not make it to the end of the field season, but it
While the start to the field season was a little rough, once we got everything set up we were able to start work on time and begin to re-establish the grid system we used in 2010.
We conducted another surface survey of a landscape we studied in 2010, which is still in progress because of the size of the site and extent of the archaeological deposits. We are hoping to be done with it on Friday or Saturday of this coming week.
We also opened up our first excavation unit of the season and are planning to open up more this coming week (week 2).
We have 12 anthropology students coming from the College of Western Idaho this week, along with their department chair, Dr. Nikki Gorrell, to help with our project. We have had a number of volunteers stay with us this past week, too, including Melissa’s mom, Hanako (she is an Interpretive Specialist at the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site in Boise), and Brianna, a high school student from Northern California.
I also conducted a surface survey and collection of artifact’s in the creek, which involved a lot of water and a number of insect bites. Here are some of the discoveries from that survey.
This week has gone by very quickly thanks to the great staff, volunteers, and students we have on this year’s project. We are so thankful for everyone’s support in this project and for this field season up and running. It is really a pleasure to be back at this important, historical site and work to get it back on the map of American memory.