After taking part in the Rosebud Battlefield Archaeological Field School during the 2012 season as a volunteer, I knew I had to bring fellow teachers to the site to share my passion for the history of this place and the amazing knowledge to be gained from the archaeological research. That same summer I received training to facilitate Project Archaeology teacher workshops. I found my inspiration! Rosebud Battlefield offered a unique and exciting opportunity for teachers to investigate archaeology at a current archaeological site and learn how to incorporate the study of archaeology into their classroom. Ten teachers from Montana and Wyoming signed up for a week-long adventure which included two days of instruction in the award-winning curriculum Project Archaeology Investigating Shelter, followed by two days of field survey work under the supervision of professional archaeologist, Chris Merritt.
Teachers were excited and prepared to apply their knowledge of archaeology gained from the lesson activities to a real archaeological site. We explored three prominent features at the Rosebud Battlefield State Park: a buffalo jump with rock art, the historic Kobold homestead, and finally the battlefield. We had a surprise visit from world-renowned rock art expert and archaeologist, Dr. James Keyser which was a treat for our prehistoric enthusiasts. Teachers observed, mapped, and classified artifacts from the Kobold family historic dump site. Once the information was recorded, teachers debated whether information about the Kobold family could be gleaned from their dump site and whether it should be studied, preserved and protected.
The next day in the field, Chris gave a tour of the battle site, pointing out warrior and soldier positions based on artifacts recovered in previous field seasons. He weaved the story of the battle into the landscape as we hiked across the battlefield to Crook’s Hill. Once at the top of Crook’s Hill we could observe the entire battlefield and visualize the movements of the military and warriors as they fought. Teachers learned how to conduct a pedestrian survey using metal detectors and record battle features such as rifle pits. Overall, the experience for the teachers was hands-on, engaging, and worthwhile!
Why teach archaeology?
Studying the past gives us a rare chance to examine our place in time and forge links with the human continuum. Everyone can touch the past, but sadly our opportunities are disappearing. The number of sites that have not been disturbed or looted is dwindling at an alarming rate. Rosebud Battlefield is among the sites that have experienced looting and is still subject to damage in the future due to interest in the land for natural gas extraction. Through Project Archaeology and visiting archaeological sites, educators can help the schoolchildren of today know and experience America’s rich cultural heritage as the adults of tomorrow.
Written by: Courtney Agenten, Project Archaeology Special Projects Coordinator & 2012 Rosebud Field School Student