Thursday, May 30, 2013
Visitors to the site
Archaeology is not all finding artifacts and features and figuring out the past. A large part of the discipline is getting the word out about what you do find. Scholarly articles, classroom visits, public lectures, museum exhibits, tidbits on Facebook - are all good ways that the Alutiiq Museum uses to get the word out about its archaeological discoveries. Through the Community Archaeology Program the museum also shows the public what archaeology is all about by letting them participate in the excavations - we also give a lot of site tours.
But it's not often that you get to give a site tour to a Senator. Yesterday Lisa Murkowski - Alaska's Senator - visited our site. Some members of the Old Harbor Native Corporation (OHNC) board came along for the tour too. OHNC is paying for project. I was very proud to show off all that we have learned so far at the 2 sites. I think they were impressed that we had learned so much about Alutiiq history at 2 seemingly insignificant sites. I emphasized that in the past archaeologists have focused on excavating the big village sites and that the seasonal sites where they processed fish or lived at for just a few months of the year have received little attention. Very little is known about those aspects of the prehistoric Alutiiq seasonal round.
I told them that in all likelihood these sites would never have been excavated unless threatened by the new Old Harbor airport extension. Federal law requires that such sites get studied before they are destroyed. Lisa and the members of the OHNC board seemed genuinely interested in all that we had learned at the two sites. They even had suggestions for other subsistence activities that might have taken place at the sites. I really appreciated the opportunity to show our politicians and the people who pay for such work that studying these sites is worth the cost.
Lisa told me that she took an archaeology class in college and that for a short while she was interested in anthropology as a career. I replied that she seemed to have done pretty well for herself in a different field. Patrick