Fort St. Joseph offers lectures and open house

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News
Photo of visitors listening to a presentation at the Fort St. Joseph archaeological site.

Visitors listen to a presentation at the 2016 open house.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, sponsored by Western Michigan University and the city of Niles, is hosting a summer lecture series and open house.

The Summer Lecture Series is an opportunity for the public to engage in several interactive and educational programs that focus on this year's theme, "Community Partnerships: Building Meaningful Connections Through Archaeology 2017 Archaeology." The annual four-part lecture series begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, at the Niles District Library, 620 East Main St., Niles, and continues on Wednesdays through Aug. 2 at the same location.

Lecture series topics and speakers

  • July 12, "Conversations and Collaborations; Objectives, and Obligations: Building and Sustaining Meaningful University—Community Partnerships in Context," Dr. Jonathan Bush, WMU professor of English.
  • July 19, "Braiding Knowledge: Community-Based Archaeology with Turkish and Native American Communities," Dr. Sonya Atalay, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
  • July 26, "Negotiating Multiple Communities Surrounding (Literally and Figuratively) the Stone Street Recovery and Repatriation Project in Downtown Flint, Mich.," Dr. Beverley Smith, associate professor of anthropology, at the University of Michigan- Flint.
  • Aug. 2, "Archaeology and Communities, Past and Present," Dr. Dean Anderson, Michigan State archaeologist.
Photo of a woman demonstrating a skill at the Fort St. Joseph archaeological site.

A women demonstrates a skill at the 2016 open house.

The Fort St. Joseph project also will host its free open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6, at the corner of Fort and Bond Streets in Niles. Attendees can meet WMU archaeologists working at the archaeological site, observe period demonstrations at the Living History Village, explore the active site, participate in children's activities and crafts, view recently uncovered artifacts, listen to period music and participate in period dance, and learn more about the importance of the St. Joseph River past and present.

About Fort St. Joseph

First established as a mission in the 1680s by French Jesuits, the fort was one of the earliest European settlements in the western Great Lakes region. It was an important part of a chain of settlements that facilitated the fur trade between Native Americans and the French, and took on the roles of garrison and trading post during the first half of the 18th century.

WMU's Department of Anthropology pinpointed the fort's location during an initial survey in 1998. Excavations began in earnest there in 2002, when WMU began conducting its annual archaeological field school at the fort site.

Since then, faculty researchers and students at the University have continued working to uncover and interpret the fort's physical remains.

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