Missouri State University
Sociology and Anthropology Blog

Bear on a Bison Kill by Lance Estep

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For my last summer (2016) as a student at MSU, I wanted to broaden my archaeological skills and experience. I decided to apply for a PIT (Passport in Time) position with the Forest Service in the Oglala National Grasslands, to conduct site research and interpretation for Hudson Meng (25SX115), in NW Nebraska. The purpose – to participate in their public education in archaeology program. Hudson estep-pic3Meng, hereby referred to as 25SX115, is an important paleo period site. It is situated at the cusp of the High Plains, in the middle of the Nebraska Badlands, within eyeshot of numerous buttes and the Black Hills. The site is unique, in that it has served as an oasis in a rather desert like environment since the early Holocence period. As part of the Fossil Free
way, it was a stop for prehistoric lifeforms from at least the middle Miocene, as nearby fossil evidence of; Entelodont, Hyenadon, Columbian mammoths, Smilidon, etc. have shown. But the particular extinct fauna represented at 25SX115 are hundreds of evolving Bison Antiquus. These beasts were once Bison Latifrons, and had a 7ft. horn span. As Bison A., they sto
od up to 9 ft. at the shoulder, but were leaner and downsizing to the buffalo we know today as Bison bison.

I did several things in this project. First, I joined Gene Gade, president of the Vore Buffalo Jump Committee, as well as Wyoming state archaeologist, Dr. Greg Pierce, aestep-pic2nd asst. state archaeologist, Marcia Peterson, for a week- long field survey of the Vore Buffalo Jump in (Sundance) Beulah, Wyoming. With over 44,000 bones, this site was active ca. 1500 – 1800 and shows 22 distinctive bone layers. A four story drop into a 200 foot- wide sinkhole was utilized in a drive approx. every 13 years by the Lakota Sioux, Kiowa, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Pawnee. We recorded dozens of rock cairns or dead men, which were used in gaps where bison could escape during drives. Cloth and brush was tied on them to blow in the wind, and they were spaced out evenly.

From the Vore Buffalo Jump survey it was back to 25SX115 for 3 more weeks. At 25SX115, I did guided tours every day. The rangers were all very hospitable. I really enjoyed working with the exhibits and interacting with the public to present their local history, and explain how archaeology works. I gave atlatl demonstrations which was always fun, and I made some new friends. When there were days off I took advantage of the local sights and sounds including Devil’s Tower, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, the Trailside Museum, and Fort Robinson.

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2016 Archaeology Field School by Sarah Reid

Students had such a good time they decided to get a group tattoo!
Students had such a good time they decided to get a group tattoo!
Rainbow over Jemez Historic Site, across the street from where we stayed
Rainbow over Jemez Historic Site, across the street from where we stayed
Behind the scenes tour at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Behind the scenes tour at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
Travis Kern and Megan Atkinson digging a shovel test
Travis Kern and Megan Atkinson digging a shovel test

The Missouri State-Vallles Caldera Archaeological Field School returned for a second season from June 6th to July 7th, 2016. It was a continuation of the previous summer’s collaboration with the Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. The field school provided students with an introduction to archaeological methods and Southwestern archaeology and cultures. They also met with an array of professional archaeologists to learn about their careers.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve is a beautiful location to do fieldwork, and at nearly 9000 feet above sea level it stays cool when the rest of New Mexico is sweltering. Before it became public land in 2000, the Caldera had most recently been a ranch with a variety of owners stretching back to the 1800s. We began our field work by digging a series of shovel test pits in a grid around the old ranch headquarters. We were trying to find out how widely spread archaeological remains were so the Preserve could avoid putting a road through the site as they try to expand visitor access to the Preserve.

We also did a pedestrian survey to find and record new sites on the lower slopes of one of the obsidian-covered mountains. During both the survey and excavation portions of the field school we found prehistoric stone tools and historic glass and metal artifacts. My favorite artifacts were a pile of Prince Albert tobacco tins from the 1950s found at what we determined had been a logging camp.

We didn’t spend all our time working. We had several fieldtrips to nearby cultural and historical sites, including Chaco Canyon, Los Alamos, Taos Pueblo, and museums in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We even got to have a behind the scenes tour at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.

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Meadows’ Summer Research on Code Talkers

Code Talkers Association President Nuchi Nashoba and Dr. Bill Meadows
Code Talkers Association President Nuchi Nashoba and Dr. Bill Meadows
Medal Recipient Joseph Day and Dr. Meadows Pose for Picture
Medal Recipient Joseph Day and Dr. Meadows Pose for Picture

Dr. William Meadows reviews his summer research interviewing Native Americans and giving talks about his research across the southwest.

This summer, Dr. William Meadows conducted fieldwork with the Laguna, Hopi, Navajo, and Choctaw Tribes in New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma. On July 29, Dr. Meadows served as the keynote speaker for the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony at Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico. The event was held to recognize Mr. Joseph R. Day Sr., a Laguna Code Talker who served with fourteen other natives from several tribes in a radio net of eight bomb groups, under the 5th Bomb Command in the 5th Army Air Corps, in the Pacific Theater of WW II. Day was linked by radio to Mr. Paul Histia of Acoma Pueblo, both being Keres speakers. The V Army Air Corps ran bombing missions throughout the South Pacific, New Guinea, Taiwan, Okinawa, China, and Japan. On September 4, Dr. Meadows reported on his research and findings over the last year on the Choctaw Code Talkers, including a one-hour power-point presentation to the Choctaw Code Talkers Association at the annual Choctaw Nation Fair in Tuskahoma, Oklahoma. Dr. Meadows is continuing to work with over thirty Native American communities in documenting their code talkers of WW I and II and the related aspects of military service and cultural ceremonies in each. His research, congressional testimony and publications contributed to the passage of the Code Talker Recognition Act of 2008, awarding Congressional Gold and Silver medals to each tribe and all Native Americans who served as code talkers.

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Exhibit on Human Origins to be at Library Center May 9-June 2.

The Library Center is hosting a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian entitled “Exploring Human Origins: What Does it Mean to be Human?” from May 9-June 2. Dr. Richard Potts, a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian, will give a lecture on Monday, May 9 from 7-9 pm in the Library Center auditorium. Dr. Suzanne Walker-Pacheco from Missouri State and Dr. Erin Kenny from Drury will be leading discussions on subsequent days. See the attached story for a link to events.

http://www.news-leader.com/story/entertainment/things-to-do/2016/05/03/library-exhibit-explore-human-origins/83835642/

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Osage Sites and Archaeology

Larry Grantham from the Missouri Department of Transportation will give a presentation entitled “Osage Sites and Archaeology: Cultural Change in the 17th-19th Centuries,” which will trace the Osage from “first contact” until 1825 when they left Missouri, at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, May 4, at the Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough. The presentation is part of the monthly meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society, but the public is invited.

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Student Anthropology Conference Thursday

The 18th Annual Student Anthropology Conference STAC will be held Thursday, April 14, beginning at 3:30 pm in Strong Hall 001. Students will be giving presentations on their research projects. Come out and support your friends peers, and fellow anthropology enthusiasts! Snacks and refreshments will be provided between sessions.

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