Far Western Receives 2017 Governor’s Historic Preservation Award

Far Western receives one of the coveted 2017 Governor’s Historic Preservation Awards for their work at archaeological site CA-SBA-1703, resulting in the document Salvaging the Past: A Case Study in Archaeological Inquiry. The California Office of Historic Preservation and State Parks and Recreation identified the document as an “excellent model for this kind of documentation and sharing of important resources.”

The report, authored by Allika Ruby and Patricia Mikkelsen, was a collaborative effort. Supporting authors included Philip Kaijankoski, Eric Wohlgemuth, Angela Arpaia, Lucas Martindale Johnson, Andrew Ugan, William Hildebrandt, John R. Johnson, and Nathan Stevens. Terry Joslin with the California Department of Transportation was involved throughout, as were Barbareño Chumash representatives who monitored all excavation work—Gilbert Unzueta, Isa Folkes, and David Dias.

Project Background

Salvaging the Past: A Case Study in Archaeological Inquiry 

The Las Vegas and San Pedro Creeks Capacity Improvements Project involved culvert replacement for flood control along US Route 101 near the city of Goleta, Santa Barbara County. A huge box culvert lay in a rechanneled drainage, stretching under railroad tracks, multi-lane Route 101, and an off-ramp. There were also two known sites either side of the highway, in a very urban environment, one occupied early in time—CA-SBA-1703—the other a named ethnographic village—S’axpilil’s (SBA-60). The sites are just north of Goleta Slough at the confluence of two creeks, an area with archaeological evidence shoring focused settlement for thousands of years.

Far Western was tasked with conducting salvage data recovery operations, within time, budget, weather, and safety constraints. The theme of the work became site persistence—

How could any intact cultural deposits survive in such an environment?

Through experience and skill, geoarchaeologist Phil Kaijankoski identified intact versus disturbed deposits. We then quickly developed a work plan to recover maximum information in a hectic environment using appropriate and diverse field techniques.

Back at the lab, we analyzed and interpreted the data, focusing on the identification of discrete temporal components. We had to determine if the deposit was associated with SBA-60 or SBA-1703; it was geographically right in-between. Geoarchaeologist Kaijankoski noted that the newly identified deposit lay on an ancient fan, as did SBA-1703, whereas SBA-60 sat on a youthful floodplain. Initial dating and artifact analyses confirmed the site deposit on the western slope was clearly associated with the older occupation at SBA-1703, dated to around 3700-2400 cal BP. A few Late Period artifacts, especially in the mixed eastern slope, indicated some overlap between the two sites.

Whistle with Asphaltum-embedded Shell. Post-900 cal BP.  Click image to view in 3D!

Public Outreach Efforts

Given diverse, abundant artifacts, along with intact features, Far Western was able to undertake in-depth analyses and focus on addressing current avenues of research. The data presentation was geared to students of cultural resource management as the project highlighted the persistence of intact cultural resources in highly disturbed environment, and innovative methods to retrieve, analyze, and document findings.

The project presented such an important learning opportunity, that Far Western felt obligated to share it as much as possible, in a format that was readable, educational, and exciting. Therefore, a visually appealing document specifically geared to archaeology students focusing on cultural resources management and contract archaeology was created.

It includes:

  • perspectives on site preservation in an urban environment
  • excavation strategies adapting to special conditions
  • local and regional environmental reconstruction focusing on Goleta Slough
  • relevance to biological, geological, archaeological, and 
  • environmental studies
  • complex kinship studies based on mission records that connect Chumash individuals from the village of S’axpilil’s to Chumash rancherias
  • innovative field techniques that adjust for conditions and findings and emphasize the importance of temporal components
  • an in-depth study of geoarchaeology, noting the importance of a study of soils and soil transitions, is important to geologists and archaeologists.

Study questions were also prepared, relating to important aspects of the field work and research. Far Western provided the report and study questions to seven regional institutions to be incorporated into lesson plans; they have already been used in several classroom settings, with positive feedback.

Another key component of the project was the presence of the local Native American community. The monitors were provided copies of the case study; each encouraged the use of Salvaging the Past in archaeology classrooms. The ethnographic studies of Dr. John R. Johnson for this project emphasize the larger social network that existed at the time. This information is only available from extensive mission record studies.

 
 
 

Creating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming

Creating Vya: The Dream of Dry Farming in Long Valley, Nevada describes the rise and fall of the community of Vya with additional information on Northern Paiute lifeways, early explorers, cattle ranching, and the failed Long Valley Water Project. The book includes numerous photographs by John L. Henry.

Flip through the interactive booklet below, or view this booklet and others on our Public Outreach Projects page!

By Erich Obermayr Historic Insight with Sharon A. Waechter Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc.

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Now Available Online! “Life on the River” by Hildebrandt and Darcangelo

Life on the River Cover

Instructors often request Life on the River – The Archaeology of an Early Native American Culture for use in their classrooms only to find out that it is now out of print.

With permission from Heyday Books, Life on the River, by Far Western authors William Hildebrandt and Michael Darcangelo, is now available online for instructors, students, and others curious about Sacramento Valley archaeology.

Life on the River

Part of the Crew for the Shasta County
2005 Field Season.

The book describes archaeological techniques and discoveries found at a Shasta County site, located on the Upper Sacramento River. It details Wintu lifeways just before and during the arrival of Europeans.

Click HERE to open the PDF!

You can also find the book under our Public Outreach and Interpretation page, along with other Far Western outreach projects, PDFs, and videos.

Read the first page…

LifeOnTheRiver

Chapter I: Introduction

During the summer of 2005, thirty-six acres along the Sacramento River were subdivided into six residential lots. The land lies in Shasta County, about six miles south of Redding, California, within the original homeland of the Wintu Indians. One of the prime lots contained an archaeological site officially registered as CA-SHA-1043 and subsequently given the Wintu name “Kum Bay Xerel” (Shady Oak Village; Figure 1). After several failed attempts to develop construction plans that could avoid the site, the landowner decided that the project should move forward, but only after an archaeological excavation. The excavations were carried out by the authors of this publication and other members of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group, with help from several Wintu tribal members and professional volunteers from throughout northern California…read more!

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About Archaeology

What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of human history through the physical remains of the past. In the western United States, archaeology focuses on the history of Native American groups who have lived here for thousands of years and on early non-Native explorers, traders, miners, and settlers who arrived only 200 to 300 years ago. All people and cultures have left behind traces of their lives: stone tools, rock art, cooking vessels, and house foundations. By carefully studying artifacts and features scattered across the land, and by consulting with living descendants, archaeologists try to answer questions about past human behavior and to preserve the remnants of traditional and historical ways of life for all to remember and enjoy.

You might be surprised to learn that archaeologists are at work every day throughout the United States. Thanks to our country’s commitment to our environment and our national heritage, we have laws to protect archaeological sites and artifacts on all public lands. Since Far Western’s founding in 1979, we have worked with state, federal and local agencies, Native American tribes, and private companies to meet the requirements of these laws, and at the same time to provide important historical, cultural, and scientific information to other scholars and to the public.

Learn more about archaeology by visiting our Public Outreach and Interpretation projects, viewing our Featured Projects, or watching some of our videos below.

Looking for Pieces of the PuzzleLooking for Pieces of the Puzzle is a seven-minute video of archaeologists at work along State Route 49, in the Sierra Nevada foothills of western Tuolumne County, California.

UC Davis Project to Honor Native AmericansUC Davis contracted with Far Western to prepare a plan to honor Native Americans, particularly the local Patwin people. Far Western designed 11 installations on the university campus. The largest is a contemplative garden in the UC Davis Arboretum.

UC Davis Project to Honor Native AmericansBreaking New Ground is a video by Phil Gross. Produced by Kelly McGuire, the 32-minute film is about Native American participation in archaeological projects. The film has been sent to more than 250 native tribes and as many agency archaeologists.