The Project Archaeology team in Iowa has been working all year on a new shelter investigation for the Investigating Shelter curriculum – a Midwestern Wickiup. This project was led by Project Archaeology coordinator Lynn Alex and funded with a Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP). REAP is supported by the state of Iowa, providing funding to public and private partners for natural and cultural resource projects, including water quality, wildlife habitat, soil conservation, parks, trails, historic preservation and more.
The investigation is based on a feature at the historic Meskwaki site known as the Bell Site (47WN9) in east Central Wisconsin. Wickiups were used by many woodland dwelling peoples in the central and eastern parts of the country so this investigation should be useful for educators throughout this region. We were able to partner with members of the Meskwaki community in Iowa to add the descendant voice to the lessons. Many Meskwaki still build wickiups near their modern homes today so we were able to get photos of a wickiup being built at the Meskwaki Pow Wow for use with the lessons. It is very interesting to see how the investigation connects prehistoric, historic and modern communities.
We have been lucky to have several groups of educators pilot the draft for the investigation and offer comments and constructive criticisms. We worked with classroom teachers at a workshop offered in June in Glenwood, Iowa and with the preK-12 culture education teachers at the Meskwaki Settlement School in Tama County.
We were also able to pilot the curriculum with environmental educators in mini workshops at the Midwest Environmental Educators Conference (MEEC) in Coralville, Iowa and at Wickiup Hill Outdoor Education Center in Toddville, Iowa. Environmental educators are looking for more ways to include human cultures in their programing and have been enthusiastic about the authentic information and activities offered by project archaeology. This is a relatively new audience for us and we worked with these educators to find ways to adapt the curriculum to the more active, outdoor activities, and time-limited sessions that characterize their programs.
At their suggestion we expanded the geographic section of the curriculum to include more information about native plants and some of the uses that Native Americans had for them.
Another special resource that both classroom teachers and environmental education folks are enthusiastic about is the Wacochachi Talking Paper. This is a pen and ink drawing made by a Meskwaki man, Wacoshachi, and given to Colonel Davenport in the early 1800s. The drawing, which is now housed at the State Historical Society, shows over 100 different types of animals that once lived throughout the Midwest and were important resources for the people who lived there.
It is interesting to see how many species that were so important were later extirpated from the region. We have included images of this drawing and activities built around it with the curriculum. Children like examining the pictures and trying to see how many animals they can identify. Using this unique resource offers a new avenue for discussion of the changing environment and how intimately familiar the people who lived in the area were with all of the creatures of their environment.
The curriculum will be officially launched in January 2014. Be on the lookout for it! I hope everyone gets an opportunity to take a look at the wickiup curriculum and introduce it into your programing. Many thanks to all of the people who have reviewed and commented on it along the way: Iowa PA Master Teachers Danise Shannon and Diane Moritz, Environmental Educators Gail Barrels (Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center) and Jan Shuttleworth (Education Coordinator, Iowa Lakeside Laboratory), Jeffery Behm (University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and, of course, Jeanie Moe and Crystal Alegria (Project Archaeology National Office).
But wait – there is more news from Iowa. Lynn Alex, who has been an important member of the Project Archaeology leadership team for many years retired from her position as Education and Outreach director at the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist in June. Fortunately, she still remains involved in Project Archaeology as an advisor and is willing to offer her assistance to anyone working to develop a program in their area. Happily, I would also like to introduce Elizabeth Reetz who has stepped into the Education and Outreach position. Elizabeth has a background in both archaeology and environmental education and has worked closely with Native American students in Minnesota. Elizabeth was not even in Iowa a month before she was assisting with the PA workshops at MEEC and Wickiup Hill. We look forward to continuing with our involvement in Project Archaeology as we go forward into 2014!
by Cherie Haury-Artz, Iowa Project Archaeology