Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Restoring the Chinook Indian Nation

Chinook Indians celebrate their Winter Gathering
(photo courtesy of the Chinook Nation website).

I'm trying to stay away from politics in this let's not call this political, let's call it righting a wrong. The Chinook Indians are iconic to the Pacific Northwest, they saved Lewis and Clark, we name our fish and winds after them, the names of our towns and rivers are often Chinookan words...yet there is NO Chinook Indian tribe in the Pacific least if you believe our federal government.

Happily on May 21, 2009 Washington Representative Brian Baird introduced legislation (the "Chinook Nation Restoration Act - H.R.2576 ) to restore official federal recognition to the Chinook tribe (

Detractors will say that there are no "real" Chinook Indians left today and that this is a cynical ploy to get federal benefits for a few undeserving people. Sadly, the detractors are often other Indian tribes who think they will lose something if the Chinook are re-constituted (like their exclusive casinos in certain areas). The ancient battlefields seem to have moved indoor to the halls of congress.

In my humble opinion there's plenty of actual evidence to support re-instating the Chinooks (learn more at if that's not enough, ask yourself if its better to give billions of dollars to failing banks and auto companies or a few million to some worthy people who are working hard to protect their culture. For me the answer is easy.

If you agree, please contact your U.S. representatives and tell them so. You can easily email your elected reps from

Friday, May 22, 2009

What to do...over the long weekend!

Visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse...close to Portland and Vancouver

Great for kids and adults too. This full scale, true to history re-creation of an Indian longhouse is located near Ridgefield, WA, just north of Vancouver.

This Weekend-May 23-24: Traditional Columbia River Foods. Learn about primary traditional foods of the Lower Columbia River, including acorns/hazelnuts, berries, camas and wapato, traditional food preparation techniques and other native plants that are important tribal foods. Greg Robinson and Greg Archuleta.

Get info:

See some The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival...Eugene, OR

The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival 2009 ( takes place in the Soreng Theater of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday through Saturday, May 19-23, 2009.

The TAC Festival is the only juried competition in the Americas, and one of the world’s leading competitions, for films relating to archaeology and cultural heritage. Films to be screened represent the best in the world in this genre. about a day trip to some of the archaeology gems of the Columbia Gorge?!

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center-Stevenson, WA

Start in Stevenson, WA, a short drive west of Portland/Vancouver at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center...a great small museum that does an excellent job of introducing you to the culture, history, and geology of the Columbia Gorge.

Get Info:

Here's what Fodor's, the famous travel guides say about the museum...

"The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center is dwarfed by the dramatic basalt cliffs that rise behind it. It's on the north bank of the Columbia River Gorge, 1 mi east of Bridge of the Gods on Highway 14. Exhibits illustrate the region's geology and history. Among the many artifacts are a Native American pit house, a fish wheel, and dip nets used for hunting salmon. Other items pertain to Lewis and Clark and other explorers, missionaries, pioneers, and soldiers who have passed through the gorge."

Read the whole review at:

Now that you have a solid background in the "what's up with the history of the Gorge"...

...head east to Columbia Hills State Park to see the ancient Indian rock art

Two of the many publicly viewable petroglyphs at Columbia Hills State Park

You can also fish, hike around, and have a nice picnic. There are two rock art areas featured at the park. The one above, with over 40 petroglyphs is available for viewing by the public whenever the park is open...its really worth seeing!

The second rock art area, also in the Horsethief Lake section of the Columbia Hills State Park is a National Historic Site. You have to plan ahead a bit to get on the guided tours of the pictographs and petroglyphs (Indian rock art) which are conducted at 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, April to October. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call the park office at (509) 767-1159.

The guided tour is incredible, but the other public rock art, combined with the lush, shady acres of park are well worth the trip even if the tour is full.

More info:

Between the Interpretive Center and the park you'll have a full day of fascinating experiences! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Archaeology Films, Otzi the Iceman, and a 47 million year-old relative...


TAC Festival 2009 takes place in the Soreng Theater of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday through Saturday, May 19-23, 2009.

Tickets are available through the Hult Center–ticket packages can be purchased only by calling the Hult Center Ticket Office at 541-682-5000. Ticket prices range from $5 per session for students to $30 for orchestra seats for the Zahi Hawass presentation. Most session prices are $12 each (in most cases for three films).

Online ticket orders for individual sessions can be made at (scroll down to bottom of that page for the link).

TAC Festival is the only juried competition in the Americas, and one of the world’s leading competitions, for films relating to archaeology and cultural heritage. Films to be screened represent the best in the world in this genre.


Dr. Angelo Fossati makes his presentation on Saturday, May 30. I've seen Angelo speak several times, as have many of you. He's always fascinating, humorous, and educational. Can't beat that! This is the big OAS event of the year...get your tickets now!

Full details and tickets at:

Russel Micnhimer and LeeAnn Johnston, multiple year recipients of Loring and Loring Grants from the OAS, will be conducting a rock art site location and recording expedition for about ten days around the 4th of July holiday.

They invite anyone who has an interest in rock art to join them. Plans include revisiting a number of sites with updated cameras to extend the completeness of their records and searching for sites that were not recorded by the Lorings.

Using a thesis by researcher Mary Ricks as a guide, they expect to locate many of the 30 non-Loring-recorded sites that she reported in the thesis in a two township sized area near the Nevada border.

The RARE will be a camping experience in very remote terrain. Interested parties may contact Russel at his home phone, 541-447-7329, his email address, or via his website, .

Three Oregon City museums have reopened after closing for more than a month due to financial issues.

"Our volunteers and supporters pushed through with a show of public support that moved CHP close to the $40,000 required for a match from the county," said Clackamas Heritage Partners board president, Dan Fowler. "It is because of the overwhelming support the community has given that this is possible."

Operations were suspended March 9 this year at End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Museum of the Oregon Territory, and the Stevens-Crawford House due to the economic downturn. For further information the public can call 503.657.9336 ext 114 or email

Longtime OAS member Ray Saunders is really into Civil War reenactment and, as such, belongs to the 1st Oregon Volunteer Infantry & 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, Company A. The group is a family oriented reenacting group dedicated to the preservation of American heritage through living history recreations. They have a number of great events coming up throughout the year.

You can see the schedule and get details at

Superintendent Tracy Fortmann has announced the launch of the Fort Vancouver podcast. This free audio program, available online via subscription or direct download, is designed to provide a personal, behind the scenes look at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This is also the first National Park Service podcast in the Pacific Northwest to be featured on iTunes, a podcatching client.

The first episode features a behind the scenes look at the park's historic weapons programs. In it, park ranger Bill DeBerry and park guide Doug Halsey detail the planning, activities and training behind the "boom" and "crack" of the park's popular musket, rifle, cannon, and howitzer firings. Additional episodes will be released each month.

The podcast can be accessed online through the park website or iTunes. The Park's website is found at:

Associated Press Writer

BERLIN – A 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a busty woman found in a German cave was unveiled Wednesday by archaeologists who believe it is the oldest known sculpture of the human form. The carving found in six fragments in Germany's Hohle Fels cave depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs and large, protruding breasts...

Read the whole story at:

From Times Online
May 19, 2009

A missing link in human evolution may have been filled by a remarkable fossil, which could be the common ancestor of all apes and monkeys, including our species.

Darwinius masillae, a small monkey-like creature that lived 47 million years ago, illuminates a critical chapter in the human story when the primate family tree split into two branches, one of which ultimately led to us...

Read the whole article:
Read more about the research:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, Rick Pettigrew, Russel Micnhimer, Dave Kaiser, Ray Saunders, Yahoo, and Times Online for some of the information in this posting)

Monday, May 18, 2009

...Who Knew?!

I Just read a very enlightening newspaper article that struck me as a perfect illustration of one of the major issues facing anyone concerned with preserving cultural or archaeological resources...the problem of "Who Knew?"
The image above is called a Yakima Star.
A common petroglyph in the Yakama
Indian cultural region.

In a nutshell, a developer building a road as part of a wind power project near Goldendale, WA is said to have disturbed a cultural site sacred to the Yakama Indians (read the whole story at

The developers say..."who knew?" and plead innocent by reason of "not knowing because there were no records of the site". Now they say they're trying their best to avoid damage.

The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation says "who knew?" and has no power to force an archaeological survey unless known sites are nearby and there's reason to suspect that there might be sites in a proposed project area.

Yakama Indian tribal elders say "we knew, but no one asked us".

And therein lies the problem...the people who KNOW [don't, won't, can't] share the information they have with people who NEED TO KNOW. Some barriers are cultural, some are bureaucratic, some are legal (or a lack of legal)...some are...well who knows, but they seem to be almost insurmountable.

I'm willing to bet that more cultural heritage is lost due to "who knew" than for almost any other reason!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On Disclosing Archaeological Site Locations and Mother Nature

This last week an OAS member that I'd never met sent me an email asking me to send him detailed site locations for rock art around Vancouver, WA so he could visit them and take pictures. He was terribly insulted when I very politely declined to provide the information he sought.

The (somewhat unpleasant) exchange prompted me to think about the responsibilities that all of us who volunteer for archaeology projects have.

At the top of my personal list is that we do not disclose the sensitive site location information that is entrusted to us when we participate in a project. In most cases the best way to protect a site is to keep its location private. There are a few cases, like Effigy Beach (see video at right) where the public traffic is so intense that we take a different protective strategy...but these are few and far between.

Here's a photo of what can happen when a bad person finds a site...

Temanawas Rock near Vancouver, WA is
covered with hundreds of pecked cupules.

...but occasionally there's good news...sometimes Mother Nature wins! Here's the same boulder the next Spring after it had been submerged in the Columbia River all Winter.

...all the offending paint is gone so the vandals were defeated this time...but please don't take the risk of telling anyone how to find an archaeology site that you've been privileged to visit!

Stepping off my soapbox for now...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Effigy Beach Video on OPB

I was just reminded by a friend that OPB's Oregon Field Guide TV program is re-running the Effigy Beach segment that was filmed in Vancouver, WA (and features Mike Taylor, your intrepid blogger ;-). Effigy Beach runs with another segment on Celilo Falls that is fascinating.

Mike Taylor examining
the Beaver Bowl during
the Oregon Field Guide
Effigy Beach program.
The Beaver Bowl is a
deeply carved effigy
boulder near Camas, WA.
It has a very large, deep
ceremonial bowl carved
into its back.

Effigy Beach is a rock art site along the Columbia River that contains several carved stone images. A couple of years ago the site was seriously damaged by a well-meaning landowner who decided to landscape right down onto the beach. Unfortunately he removed all the native vegetation that was protecting the carved boulders making them very susceptible to erosion and other damage.

The rock peaking from behind the tree in the
upper left of the photo is the intensively carved
zoomorphic (animal-like) effigy boulder in the
photo below.

We worked with the City of Vancouver and other local residents to contain the problem and prevent further damage. The video shows some of the interesting rock art and me giving the local residents a tour of the cultural resources on their property in a very successful effort to recruit them to watch over and protect it for future generations.

Check out the video at: (or on the link to the right).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Events! Clovis! Babylon! ...and more!

An incredible number of archeo-events coming up in the Northwest, including the Oregon Archaeological Society's Otzi event on May 30 (tickets are going fast!). The Archaeology Channel Film Festival starts next week in Eugene with a full slate of videos and Zahi Hawass, Egypt's Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities ( a very cool dude, I want a title like that). Our friend Dr. Dave Whitley has a hot new rock art book...and Babylon re-opens. More below...

Get your tickets now! Dr. Angelo Fossati makes his presentation on Saturday, May 30.
Presented by the Oregon Archeological Society.
Full details and tickets at:

Over the past couple of years OAS members have worked on a project to record and preserve the ancient rock art found in Cascadia Cave near Sweethome, Oregon. Cascadia Cave holds a wealth of petroglyphs including many bear paws.

Under the direction of Dr. Jim Keyser (former OAS President and USFS Regional Archaeologist) and with the support of Tony Farque (Archaeologist for the Sweet Home Ranger District, Willamette National Forest) the team worked hard over the recent Mothers Day weekend and has nearly completed recording the ancient images in the cave.

TAC Festival 2009 ( takes place in the Soreng Theater of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday through Saturday, May 19-23, 2009. Tickets are available through the Hult Center–ticket packages can be purchased only by calling the Hult Center Ticket Office at 541-682-5000. Ticket prices range from $5 per session for students to $30 for orchestra seats for the Zahi Hawass presentation. Most session prices are $12 each (in most cases for three films). Online ticket orders for individual sessions can be made at (scroll down to bottom of that page for the link).

TAC Festival is the only juried competition in the Americas, and one of the world’s leading competitions, for films relating to archaeology and cultural heritage. Films to be screened represent the best in the world in this genre.


CLACKAMAS: The Oregon Military Museum's 13th annual Armed Forces Day/Living History Day will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 16 at Camp Withycombe. Honoring veterans of all wars, the event includes military equipment, uniforms, campsites, and weapons.The Oregon Military Museum will be closed during the event because it is moving to another building on post. For information contact Steve Greenberg 503-774-4103
CRESWELL: The Creswell Area Historical Society will show the film "Restoration" as part of a program at 2:30 p.m. May 17 on the Kalapuya Indians. Tribal consultant Carol Logan and Lane Community College teacher Mark Harris will also make presentations. The free event takes place at the Cresswell Museum, Fifth Street and Oregon Avenue.
FAIRVIEW: The history of the Interurban Rail Line in Fairview will be presented at 2 p.m. May 17 at the Fairview Community Center, Third and Harrison streets. The line was started in 1872 by Ben Holladay and discontinued in 1958. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, contact or 503-261-8078.
PORTLAND: The Oregon Historical Society will host a Family Day Program on May 16. Activities will include an activity for younger children, a craft activity, and a "what is it?" table. For more information, visit
PORTLAND: The Architectural Heritage Center will host a lecture at 10 a.m. May 16 on "Portland*s Cast-Iron Building Heritage: Skidmore - Old Town". William J. Hawkins III, the author of The Grand Era of Cast Iron Architecture in Portland, Portland*s Historic New Market Theater, and Classic Houses of Portland, Oregon 1850 * 1950, will be the presenter. Pre-registration is required at or 503-231-7264. The center is scheduling walking tours of the Skidmore-Old Town area on June 18 and June 20.
SALEM: Mission Mill Museum will host its 25th Annual Sheep to Shawl from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 16. The event includes sheep-shearing, blacksmithing, spinning, Dutch oven cooking, weaving, quilting, and lace making. The Marion County Historical Society and A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village will also provide activities. Mission Mill Museum is a five acre, historical museum that preserves and interprets two homes from the 1841 Methodist Mission Station in Salem, the 1847 home of the Oregon Trail traveling John D. Boon Family, the oldest Presbyterian Church in the Pacific Northwest, and the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill established in 1889. For more information call 503-585-7012 or visit
TROUTDALE: Historian Stanley Clarke will lead a tour of Estacada area cemeteries. Organized by the Troutdale Historical Society, the tour bus will leave at 9 a.m. from the Barn Museum, 104 SE Kibling St. For information and registration, phone 503-661-2164.

Smith Rock State Park will host a living history encampment May 22-24 in conjunction with the state's sesquicentennial. Interpreters, reenactors and displays will portray the period after the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805-06 until Oregon's admission to the Union in 1859. Presenters will include former state archaeologist Le Gilsen Traveling Museum of Oregon Prehistory, members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs demonstrating traditional native crafts, Tom Laidlaw portraying trapper/explorer Peter Skene Ogden with the Engages de la Columbia and Hudson Bay Fur Company reenactors, and members of the Echoes in Time group demonstrating primitive skills and tool making. In addition, Eric Iseman and Lonny Johnson will portray the John Fremont and Kit Carson "Great Pathfinder" Expedition of 1843 with replica mountain howitzer, Bill Armstrong and members of the Oregon Trail Travelers group will demonstrate pioneer life styles of the wagon train era, the Oregon Territorial Stage Co. and members of the 1st Oregon Volunteers will portray cavalry and infantry units of the Central Oregon Indian War Era. The event requires the state park use fee. School groups are encouraged to attend on May 22. For further information please contact Paul Patton at 541 923 7551 Ext. 21


Mike Rondeau, of Rondeau Archaeological in Sacramento, has kindly shared with our OAS membership the below map of sites that he has documented with Clovis tools in Oregon. The map was created for the annual State of Jefferson Archaeological Society meeting earlier this month.


The SAA Council of Affiliated Societies is sponsoring a poster symposia at the 2010 SAA Meeting in St. Louis next year.* The symposia's working title is "Avocational Archeology Making a Difference: Who's Done It and Who's Doing IT". The Oregon Archaeological Society is going to enter one or two posters for the symposia featuring Oregonians. We would like suggestions from YOU about who should be on the posters and why.

The person can be living or dead, and we hope to feature 5-10 individuals with a brief biography and action photos. Contributions to any aspect of archaeology are what we're looking for. For example they could have made a difference in archaeology projects, stewardship, education, legislation, donations, writing, etc. For example, Malcom & Louise Loring for their contributions to Oregon Rock Art; Paul Lawson for his geology help on many field and lab projects; and the Auels for financial support to many archaeology activities. The person doesn't have to be an Oregon Archaeological Society member.

*The posters abstracts for the symposia must be completed by mid August, 2009 for the April 2010 Meeting.

I am also looking for people wishing to help with producing the Oregon posters, and be a presenter if you will be attending the SAA Meeting, as each poster must have a different presenter.

If you have suggestions of a person or want to help produce a poster, please contact Cathy Poetschat at

BOOK REVIEW (by blogcritcs): Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit by David S. Whitley

David S Whitley is clearly a man who has moved at the centre of prehistoric archaeology for decades. In Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit he takes us into that world: roughly half of the book is an account of the archaeological debates, quarrels and missteps that have marked the exploration and attempts at explanation of the cave art of prehistoric Europe and associated genres. On that he’s entertaining, anecdotal, and so far as I can tell a faithful guide...

Read the whole review at:

The New York Times
Published: May 2, 2009

BABYLON, Iraq — After decades of dictatorship and disrepair, Iraq is celebrating its renewed sovereignty over the Babylon archaeological site — by fighting over the place, over its past and future and, of course, over its spoils...

Read the whole story at: