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Archaeology students working with Coeur d'Alene tribe hopes to uncover colonial history

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Posted at 10:43 AM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 12:43:51-04

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — 21 archaeology students from the University of Idaho, North Idaho College and UC Berkely are working with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, hoping to uncover new historical perspectives from the late 19th and early 20th centuries at Fort Sherman.

The project is led by U of I's Idaho Public Archaeology education project. The project aims to shed light on the military occupation of the American West, according to a news release, while also providing archaeology students accessible and inclusive field training.

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Jake Mathis, UC Berkeley undergraduate student from Marin County, California

The fieldwork includes geophysical surveys, archaeological testing and artifact analysis and is taking place until June 15 at North Idaho College by Yap-Keehn-Um Beach and near the Spokane River on the north end of campus.

“Fort Sherman is an ideal location to explore identity construction and negotiation in spaces of cultural meeting,” said Katrina Eichner, Ph.D., U of I assistant professor of anthropology. “It’s our hope that materials discovered here will allow for more diverse and nuanced understanding of the past.”

The military installation was established in 1878 on traditional Coeur d'Alene homeland known as Hnch'mqinkwe', according to the release.

“Stories of occupation in the West tend to focus on the roles of elite, white male military officers in hostile conflicts with Native American tribes,” said Eichner. “By focusing on this singular narrative, the stories and perspectives of a variety of historically marginalized groups are obscured in traditional heritage interpretations.”

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Kristina McDonough, University of Idaho graduate student from Boise, Idaho

Community members are able to observe the excavations through June 12 between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. or from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The research will result in a formal report given to the tribe, NIC and the U of I Bowers Archaeology Lab.