by Katy TerBerg
Historical and archeological findings from Fort St. Joseph in Niles, Mich., are the focus of a new display appearing at Waldo Library. The display was designed by Professor of Anthropology Michael S. Nassaney’s public archeology seminar class (ANTH 5000).
The display project showcases artifacts from historical events in and around the Fort, including archaeological findings, from beads to coins, and information on the fur trade and the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project. The display is a venue to bring a piece of Fort St. Joseph to the WMU community.
“The purpose of this project was to give visitors to Waldo Library the opportunity to learn about archaeology and its contributions to our understanding of the past,” said Nassaney.
The display includes findings and interpretations of life in the 18th century on the edge of the French Empire. The rich historical context of the displays, said Nassaney, is only one benefit of the presentations. “The project also provides student testimonies of the the benefits of working on such a collaborative project.”
Nassaney stresses the importance of the displays in helping unlock the past. “Students will be able to learn about the history of the region, appreciate the interactions among diverse populations such as the French and native peoples,” said Nassaney. “They too can become part of a team that works to recover evidence of a daily life along the banks of the St. Joseph River at a long lost, but not forgotten, French fort.”
The Fort St. Joseph project was established by WMU archaeologists, under Nassaney’s direction in 1998, in conjunction with the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, and Support the Fort.
An annual open house in August, brings an average 3,000 visitors to the Fort for tours, reenactments, authentic products, and visits to an archeaological dig site. “The Project is a long-term, multidisciplinary, community service learning initiative that explores the fur trade and colonialism in southwest Michigan,” said Nassaney.