Monday, June 23, 2008

Archaeology Course Begins Today

Feather News

A unique opportunity exists for tribal members to study archaeology on the Mohegan Reservation and even receive college credits from a state university for the course.

Tribal members and non-tribal students will learn side-by-side in a six-week course that will include time spent both in the classroom and out in the field on the Mohegan Reservation. In its 14th year, this year’s field portion of the course will include excavating the foundation of a Mohegan home that possibly dates back to just before the Revolutionary War and a second site believed to be occupied by Mohegans during the middle of the 18th century.

What better way to get a feel for how your ancestors lived and how Mohegans evolved over time. The six-week course is taught by the Mohegan Tribe’s Archaeologist, Dr. Jeff Bendremer. Students will also interact with the Tribe’s dedicated archaeology staff, an informed group that has spent much time excavating Mohegan sites and studying the Tribe’s history. The class begins on June 23rd and ends on August 4th.

The exciting news for Mohegans is that there may still be room in the course for new students. Your participation will not only be worth 6 college credits from Eastern Connecticut State University – if you choose - but will contribute to the Tribe’s efforts to better understand Mohegan life-ways, trade, warfare, belief systems, subsistence and economics.

You will also have the opportunity to examine many artifacts recovered from past excavations, including pottery, pipes, wampum beads and projectile points (arrowheads). Part of this collection has come from archaeologists who have dug on Mohegan homelands a half-century ago and earlier. Also recovered by the Tribe recently are letters sent by some of these archaeologists to each other and to museum officials that describe Mohegan artifacts they came across or were looking for.

“Besides learning excavation techniques and the broad expanse of Mohegan history, the program concentrates on exploring the relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans, both past and present, through a Native American lecture series. Professionals, scholars and dignitaries from mostly local tribes speak to the students about their various areas of expertise,” the course description states.

This year’s course will mark the 14th year of what is called the Eastern Connecticut State University Archaeological Field School, making it one of the oldest field collaborations with an Indian tribal government, according to the Tribe. Each project is authorized by the Mohegan Council of Elders and operates under the supervision of the Mohegan Cultural and Community Programs Department.

Dr. Bendremer worked on the Mohegan Reservation as a volunteer for five years, beginning in 1994, and was hired by the tribe in 1999. Before that, Dr. Bendremer had worked with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and has participated in numerous excavations of Indian sites in Connecticut. Tribal and non-tribal archaeologists that are part of the Mohegan archaeology department’s staff will impart their knowledge of the Mohegan culture and experiences digging at various sites on the Reservation.

The course starts today so call 1-800-MOHEGAN this morning and ask for Dr. Jeff Bendremer to find out how to sign up or call Jeff another time to find out about other archaeology courses and workshops in the future.

While students learn they are also contributing to the Tribe’s need for manpower in excavating sites on the Reservation.