BACKGROUND

The Salish Kootenai College indigenous Archaeological Field School is administered through the SKC tribal Historic Preservation Program in close consultation with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and the Tribal Heritage Resource Office.  Furthermore, we have been authorized by the Salish and Kootenai Cultural Committees to conduct limited archaeological investigations in the Salish and Kootenai tribes traditional homeland and on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  The purpose of these investigations is to recover archaeological and historical information that is deemed important by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe Mohegan tribal government and the Salish and Kootenai People.

This year we will investigate two sites within the historic homeland of the Salish and Kootenai nations: Ft. Connah site on the Flathead Indian Reservation and the Stuart-Menard Cabin Site at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site (a unit of the National Park Service).  These sites are potentially very important for our understanding of the history of western Montana. During the course of this fieldwork, we will: 1) contribute to the knowledge base of the Fort Connah Preservation Society and their efforts to accurately restore the 1846 Hudsons Bay trading Post; 2) determine the disposition of archaeological and historic resources at Grant-Kohrs Ranch in an area of a proposed new visitors center.

Our preliminary meetings and lectures will be held at Ft. Connah, the 1847 Hudsons Bay Trading Post located on the Flathead Indian Reservation.  Established by Scottish trader Angus McDonald, Ft. Connah was the last Hudsons Bay Trading Post constructed in what became the United States (at the time, western Montana was disputed territory between the US and Britain). The trading post and the McDonald family have played an important part in the life of the Native community, and particularly the Flathead community, ever since.

 

OBJECTIVES

There are a number of interrelated goals we hope to achieve with the 2014 SKC Indigenous Archaeological Field School.  Our main long-term objective is to better understand the lives of the Salish and Kootenai people throughout time, their residential, military, economic and political systems.  This information will be used to help develop strategies for long-term management, preservation or restoration of the Flathead Indian Homeland.  We also seek to generate information that will provide context for existing collections of materials excavated many years ago and now held by the various institutions including Salish Kootenai College, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, University of Montana, and many others institutions.

 

METHODS

The purpose of archaeological excavations is to reconstruct past human and environmental events and activities, not just to find objects.  Artifacts (portable, manufactured, used items), features (non-portable, human modified evidence) and geological strata are only a few of the data we analyze.  Careful excavation, recovery, identification, recording, as well as horizontal and vertical control improve ability to test hypotheses of past lifeways.

To maintain horizontal and vertical control of the site, excavations will be conducted in a grid system (horizontal control) and in regular layers (vertical control).  This system enables us to record provenance, control for variability in terrain and soil as well as aid in interpretation of the site.