Missouri State University
Sociology and Anthropology Blog

Tough Talks…

Amber Williams
Lyle Foster

If you haven’t been to one of Mr. Foster’s Tough Talk Luncheons this fall of 2015, you must drop whatever you have planned this Wednesday or Thursday and immediately join us. It is a delightful yet honest gathering of many culturally diverse MSU students and professors all coming together to discuss the tougher parts of the social problems our nation faces. Topics have ranged from mildly tough, like the day we discussed cultural conflicts on the bench in the Major League Baseball, to very tough, like the time we discussed what Ferguson has really taught us. If I have learned anything from attending these talks, it is that honest conversations about race and social problems are both difficult and vital.

Now, here’s a tough admission…

As a white student, I thought it was important to attend. I think Black Lives Matter is a very important movement, yet I always worry about saying the wrong thing. Unlike with other social issues, I don’t speak up about racial inequality in class discussions. This bothers me. I am a sociology major because I want to fight all kinds of inequality, but how can I do that if I am scared to be a part of the conversation?

Just as I feared, at my third Tough Talk, I did say the wrong thing. I upset someone and it felt horrible. I meant well, but for me, being white means that I am not always going to know the wrong thing to say is wrong until it is out of my mouth. This is an unavoidable fact. A much bigger unavoidable fact is that by choosing not to take part in tough discussions, I am part of the problem. And so, I will continue to attend. I will still be there at these Tough Talks with open ears and an open heart.
Please, no matter your gender, age, or race, come join us any Wednesday or Thursday afternoon through the end of November. Bring a lunch, a friend, your past, and your perspective. Never be scared of anything tough.


Given the events at Mizzou and Yale regarding race, the November talk schedule has been UPDATED to focus on these issues!

Wednesday, November 11th @ 12:15p.m., STRO 409 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Thursday, November 12th @ 12:30p.m., STRO 350 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Wednesday, November 18th @ 12:15p.m., STRO 409 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Thursday, November 19th @ 12:30p.m., STRO 350 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

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Archaeology at the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield

The Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society is sponsoring a presentation by Dr. William G. Piston, a Professor of History, on “Archaeology and the Wilson’s Creek Civil War Battlefield: Challenges and Opportunities” on Wednesday, November 4, at 7:00 pm at the Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough. The public is invited.

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Stout’s work featured in 2015 Mind’s Eye

Congratulations to Dr. Mike Stout! His incredible work and activism will be featured in the 2015 issue of Mind’s Eye, Missouri State University’s research publication. This story will also be featured on Missouri State’s research website and the Missouri State homepage.

Read the story on Mind’s Eye.

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Searching for the Trail of Tears in Southwest Missouri

Dr. Neal Lopinot, Director of MSU’s Center for Archaeological Research, will give a presentation on the route of the Trail of Tears through this area as well as the nomination of two sites to the National Register of Historic Places. The talk will be at the Center, located at 622 S. Kimbrough, at 7pm Wednesday October 7, and is sponsored by the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society. The public is invited.

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Summer Field School at Valles Caldera National Preserve by Laura Bruns

From June 8th until July 7th, 2015, I participated in the field school sponsored by Missouri State University in the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP). The VCNP is located outside of Jemez Springs, New Mexico. The main objective of the field school was to introduce students to the varied archaeological methods that are used during a pedestrian survey, site conditions assessment, and shovel testing. The field school also included several field trips that introduced students to the different archaeological site types, Southwestern archaeology and the state of New Mexico in general.

The majority of the field school was spent conducting a pedestrian survey in the VCNP. The survey area was almost completely forested and ended at the Jemez River which flowed at the foot of a mountain. Needless to say, we had some beautiful views on our cookie and lunch breaks. However, the area also has an abundance of downed trees along with large boulders. Lesson one in our field school was learning to hike over or around these while trying to keep on our transects (those are imaginary lines that we follow as we look at the ground) and not lose our compasses (which I did when I tripped over a limb). In some cases, the forest was so dense that the only way to keep tabs on the people to your right or left was to literally stop and listen for them. Overall, we found eleven sites while surveying. These were mainly large artifact scatters consisting of obsidian. We did find several historic artifacts and features that included metal cans, bottle caps, a 4×4 trail, telephone wire with insulators, and a campfire ring.

The last section of the field school consisted of completing shovel testing at two of the previously recorded sites along with a site conditions assessment at a third. For all three of these we had to bring equipment out to the field with us. This included shovels, screens, tarps, paperwork and clipboards, trowels, measuring tapes, meter sticks, whisk brooms, dustpans, flags, string line, etc. In the case of the site conditions assessment, we also had to trek out to the site with the total station and stadia rod. Since we were not allowed to collect any of the artifacts due to the National Parks System’s policy of non-collection, all the artifacts had to be analyzed out in the field. We also had to replace them based on which level we found them in while back filling the holes and trenches. Excavation for the site conditions assessment also included a stipulation that we could only excavate 0.01 percent of the total site. This meant that our three excavation units were 25cm x 25cm or 25cm x 50cm versus the usual units that are 1×1 meters or 2×2 meters.

The field trips were planned to give us students an insight into Southwest archaeology and in jobs available in cultural resource management. We took several trips with the VCNP archaeology crew including a rockshelter tour that was held up by a hailstorm while we were in one of the rockshelters. We also got to visit several sites within the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) lands with the LANL CRM crew. On our own, we visited Chaco Canyon, Bandelier National Monument, and Taos Pueblo among other sites. However, the best part of the field school had to be seeing Jurassic World in Los Alamos. Only a bunch of anthropologists would belly laugh at “I was trained by the Navy, not the Navajo!”.





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