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Indiana University Bloomington
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Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences
One Discipline, Four Fields

Archaeological Field School in Montana & Wyoming

Exploring Historical and Social Landscapes of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

JUNE 10- JULY 22, 2016

Information Packet


We are celebrating our TENTH (10th!!) YEAR at Bighorn Archaeology, with our 2016 cooperative program in archaeological field methods in the beautiful Absaroka Mountain range of Wyoming. This field school is a holistic, field-based program in the Northwestern Plains and Middle Rocky Mountains, with a special emphasis on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. If you like camping, hiking, and archaeology, this field school is for you!

Laura L. ScheiberThis course will be taught by Laura L. Scheiber at Indiana University.

We will begin with a Pre-Session in which we will orient you to the project.  Students will visit local museums and archaeological sites, discuss issues relevant to cultural heritage in the West, and learn how to use specialized equipment.  During the middle of the first session, you will also have the opportunity to attend the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s annual Indian Pow Wow (June 18-19).

Sessions 1 will be held at the Heart Mountain Nature Conservancy, located outside Cody, Wyoming. Section 2 will each be held in the Shoshone National Forest, just east of Yellowstone National Park.  Students will be introduced to archaeological survey, GPS, mapping, artifact identification, excavation, and site recording.  Students will map features at large Native American campsites and record extensive associated lithic artifact scatters.  In session two, they will also document sites on the border of the Washakie Wilderness that were impacted by forest fires in 2011.  The wilderness area base camps for the second session will require students to pack their personal gear several miles over mountainous country of up to 9,000 feet above sea level.  A certified outfitter and pack string will deliver all field equipment and supplies to the camp.  Students should be prepared to spend the majority of the session hiking and recording archaeological sites in the basins and mountains of northwestern Wyoming. 

RegulatorsThis program affords few luxuries in a potentially harsh but stunning environment with amazing archaeology.  All students must participate in a USDA Forest Service sponsored “Bear Awareness” training program and carry bear spray at all times.  Grizzly bears and potential bear encounters are a fact of camp life.  Be prepared to walk several miles every day, possibly crossing up and down mountains, through heavily wooded areas, and across cold mountain streams.

Due to weather-related circumstances outside our control, we may be unable to access certain project areas.  The schedule is always flexible.

Follow us on Facebook for more information: Bighorn Archaeology Field School


  • PRE-SESSION: June 10 - June 12
  • SESSION 1: June 14-June 19, June 22-July 1
  • SESSION 2: July 6-July 22


IU Summer credit hour fees (6 credits)
Indiana residents undergrads: ($282.00 x 6) = $1,692.00
Non-residents undergraduates: ($993.13 x 6) = 5,958.78
Indiana residents graduate students: ($341.51 x 6) = $2,049.06
Non-residents graduate students: ($1,053.94x 6) = $6,323.64

Field school fees
Covers food, some transportation, field supplies = $905.00

Total for IU Undergraduates (Indiana residents) = $2,597.00

Note: The fees for this class are non-refundable. If you withdraw from the class, you will not receive a reimbursement of the course fees.


Be prepared to budget additional funds for travel to Wyoming, food during road trips and during the break, and equipment for six weeks of outdoor living.



The Mary Suzanne Savage award is available to Anthropology majors at Indiana University. It provides up to $1,000 for fees and equipment related to an archaeological field experience. Applications are due March 11th. Please contact academic advisor Jody Ferguson for more information.

The Friends of Anthropology award is also newly available to Anthropology majors at Indiana University. It provides up to $1,000 for fees and equipment related to an field experience from any subfield, including archaeology. Applications are due March 11th. Please contact academic advisor Jody Ferguson for more information. Students can only receive one of the Anthropology department awards.

Pre-Professional Experience Internship Grants ($3,000) are available through the Hutton Honors College (minimum of 3.4 overall GPA and a 3.7 in major) for juniors and seniors. . Freshman and Sophomores can apply for a Research Partnership Award ($1,000) (minimum of 3.4 overall GPA) .
Applications for both awards are due March 11th and require a letter of support from Dr. Scheiber – plan accordingly and contact Dr. Scheiber well in advance (by March 1st)!! Student interns will be required to assist with project-related activities during the field school and after it ends.

The Archaeological Institute of America also offers the Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship for juniors, seniors, and first year graduate students ($1,000). Applications are due March 1st. Two recommendation letters are required.

Students who participate in the field school will also receive priority in paid internships the following academic year.



Blue Team excavating at Two EagleStudents need to provide their own transportation to and from the field school (and fairly split gas costs when traveling together). If driving, they will convoy to Wyoming together with the support staff. A University vehicle and several personal vehicles will be traveling together to the field site. Students will meet at the parking lot in front of Franklin Hall (corner of Indiana and Kirkwood) at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 7th. The distance between Bloomington and the project area is approximately 1,500 miles, so students should plan to stay overnight for two nights on the way there. Students will minimize costs by staying at campgrounds on the way out to Wyoming (typically students have stayed overnight at Onawa, IA and Devil’s Tower, WY). Students often decide not to stop overnight on the return trip home. Students should plan to provide their own meals on the trip there and back, and during the session breaks. Our intent is to get students back to Bloomington no later than July 25th. Students should not expect to leave to return to Bloomington before the morning of July 23rd. Estimated cost there and back: $50 camping fees plus food for up to six travel days (budget about $50). Students are welcome to fly directly into the Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming (COD). You must arrive no later than June 9th. Students are responsible for getting themselves to and from the project area before the start of every session. Travel might occur the evening before the session starts.



Students will be camping throughout the field school and should plan their equipment accordingly. Kitchen facilities and food are provided during the field sessions, but students need to provide personal gear (including a tent) and should be prepared for six weeks of field living. Summer in the mountains is unpredictable and may vary from extremely hot to rainy to cold and snowy, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 100 degrees F (sometimes on the same day). Be prepared for ANY weather conditions.

During the field school, students should expect to camp and be outside in rugged conditions. Lectures and demonstrations will be conducted as needed. We will sometimes not have access to refrigerators and electricity. During session 2, we will set up a canvas wall tent for our kitchen and cook with camp stoves or over camp fires. Students will not have access to flush toilets. Because of the presence of bears and other wildlife, we need to be careful about camping, food preparation, and food storage during the entire field school. The last session will require more logistical planning to get all of our gear and equipment into the mountains.

Students will be living in remote locations, often without access to electricity, email, or phone lines. Cell phone reception is limited or unavailable, especially during the 2nd session. We will transmit our location every night to the forest archaeologist. We can set up a solar shower, but there will often be days when you are unable to take a shower. Weather dependent, students will be able to bathe in the creeks and rivers. If you have body piercings, you may consider taking them out or preparing ahead for extra hygiene measures.

During the field sessions, meals are served communally. Students will take turns preparing meals based upon previously planned menus. Plan on rotating kitchen duties every three days. Students should be prepared to put up their tents and take them down often, especially during the breaks. Living in your tent for an entire field session represents an extreme use of your tent and will take its toll on your tent. DO NOT PLAN TO USE A CHEAP TENT! IT WILL FAIL YOU!



This field project is located in the middle of countless natural and cultural wonders.  Weather permitting, we will plan several fieldtrips during the field school.  Possible visits include the Crow Reservation, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Irma Hotel, the Buffalo Bill Dam Interpretive Center, Chief Plenty Coup State Park, Heart Mountain, Spirit Mountain Cave, Thermopolis Hot Springs, Cedar Mountain, the Southfork Valley, Weatherman Draw, Legend Rock State Historic Park, Medicine Lodge Creek State Historic Park, the Dubois Museum, the Bighorn Sheep Interpretive center, and Old Trail Town.



The project director, field assistants, and field school students will be based out of Cody, Wyoming, during the pre-session and between sessions.   Students can spend days off exploring Yellowstone National Park or hiking and camping in the nearby Bighorn, Beartooth, or Absaroka Mountains.  Cody is a major summer tourist destination.  Popular activities and destinations include river rafting down the Shoshone River, attending the Cody Nite Rodeo, and seeing the sights of the "Old West." Students will be on a break during Independence Day. Cody offers many attractions and festivities during the week of the 4th of July, including the Stampede Rodeo, three parades, a craft fair, and street dances.

Green Team Mapping at Two EagleThe field school will pay for camping fees to stay at the Ponderosa campground in downtown Cody over the breaks.  Students need to provide their own food during the breaks (group meal planning is also encouraged). Everything is centrally located, and students can walk to stores, restaurants, and museums from the campground.  Students who do not stay in the campground after the sign up period is over need to reimburse the field school at a rate to be determined by the project director!  Keep the project director apprised of your whereabouts during the break.

Student should also plan to provide assistance to the project director during the session breaks by helping with tasks such as purchasing food or preparing equipment for field sessions.  Travel to the field site will generally take 1-5 hours. 


Students should budget for expenses over the session breaks before arriving in the field. The following information may give you a better idea of potential expenses:

  • During the breaks, students will stay in Cody, Wyoming, which offers amenities such as group tent camping rates, showers, electrical outlets, wireless internet, and laundry facilities within walking distance of downtown Cody, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Wal-Mart, coffee shops, and numerous restaurants.  Laundry is coin-operated and estimated at around $3-5 per load. You can purchase laundry supplies, such as detergent, as a group.
  • Cody is a tourist town and you WILL want to shop. The Ponderosa Campground is across the street from Sierra Trading Post (a.k.a. outdoor equipment heaven), and students in the past have picked up anything from new tents to hiking socks there.
  • Dining in Cody ranges from relatively inexpensive mom-and-pop restaurants to higher-priced steakhouses. Be prepared to feed yourselves every day between sessions (estimated at nine full days). We estimate that students will probably reasonably spend $5-10 for breakfast, $5-10 for lunch, and $10-20 for dinner for each day during the break, which would equal between $20-40 per day, plus incidentals at Wal-Mart and Sierra Trading Post. A charcoal grill is also available to check out from the field school director for those that would like to cook for themselves over the break. It is best to plan with the rest of the group so that everyone has access to grills if they want them. Estimated food cost: $300-$400.
  • River rafting trips in the Cody area cost between $30 and $40.
  • You may decide to coordinate travel and camping in Yellowstone National Park during a break.  There is a park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle. Campground fees generally range from $15-26 per site per night.
  • Don’t underestimate the lure of gas station drinks and snacks when on the road!

** Please keep in mind that you must bring home any purchases you make or goods you acquire during the field school that cannot fit into your packs. Space in vehicles is generally limited.



You will be working and staying in small rural western communities during the field school.  Students are representatives of Indiana University at all times.  Please act accordingly.  Misconduct or endangerment to oneself or others will not be tolerated.  Should such a situation present itself, you will be asked to leave, and you will be required to make your own travel arrangements home. Please be respectful of the perspectives of the project director and field school personnel – they may have insights into what is inappropriate behavior that you have not considered.

We will be living and working in close quarters with one another for an extended period of time and in difficult conditions.  This means that everyone must be aware of how their behavior affects the rest of the group.  We need to be considerate, tolerant, and above all flexible to insure that this is a positive field experience for everyone involved.



The field personnel will do everything possible to assist the students with their medical needs.  Occasionally students get sick or injured during the field school, either during the sessions or between sessions.  Recent examples include colds, tonsillitis, insect bites, blisters, cuts, and sprained ankles. The project director will advise students as to whether they need to stay at camp for the day due to illness or injury.  Some situations may require a trip to urgent care and medical clearance will be required before they can return to field work.  Several support staff are trained in first aid and Emergency Medical Services.

Students are required to consult with the project director if they are injured, even if they do not think it is a safety concern (for instance, even a small cut can become dangerous in the wilderness if not treated properly).



Students will be given a written syllabus for the field school when they arrive in Wyoming, along with associated readings that they are expected to read.  If you would like a head start on any of the articles or want suggestions for books that will prepare you for the class, please email the instructor.  One of the first assignments is to purchase and to read the novel The Morning River by W. Michael Gear.  You must read the entire novel by the time you arrive in Wyoming and be ready to discuss.



Students should expect to dress for a variety of weather conditions that they might encounter every day as well as a variety of guests and community members who might visit unexpectedly. They should also consider proper professional attire. Although you might be spending all day in the blazing sun, you shouldn’t expect to dress like you would at the beach. Close-toed shoes or boots are required during work hours at ALL times. Sandals might be appropriate around camp or when crossing rivers, but never when chopping wood or in rattlesnake country. Please keep your skin covered as much as possible. Archaeologists are especially prone to getting skin cancer. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants are always a good idea. Bras and booty shorts are NEVER acceptable field attire.

Because archaeological site locations are considered to be confidential information, we will have a discussion about which photos you can take (and what kind of embedded information might be contained in your photos) and which information and location data are acceptable to post to your social media pages. Please feel free to tell your family and friends to follow us on Facebook at Bighorn Archaeological Field School for more information about our travels.



Morning CampfireIn the field school, you will learn as much about outdoor survival as archaeological field methods.  However, this is not a class in wilderness backpacking (check out NOLS for this type of adventure) and you do not need to have prior experience camping or hiking to participate in the class.  For those of you unfamiliar with how to properly plan to clothe yourself for more than 40 days of mountain weather, check out the NOLS equipment lists. Don't fool yourself into not purchasing some of these items!

  1. Your own tent (such as a decent 2 person backpacking tent), sleeping bag (consider a 10-20 degree bag), sleeping pad, ground cover, and stout metal tent pegs. This is the heaviest bulk of your gear – plan for 10 lbs or less.  Less is more, you don’t need more than a few outfits.
  2. Two pairs of shoes in case your feet get wet. One pair should be hiking boots for archaeological survey, and one pair should be shoes that you can wear crossing rivers (i.e. hiking sandals such as Tevas, or Keens). You must wear close-toed shoes in rattlesnake country or when staff tells you to.
  3. Socks, underwear, pants, shirts for up to 15 days (you can wash clothes in the river).
  4. Windbreaker, warm coat, thermals, winter hat and gloves.  IT WILL GET COLD!!
  5. Hat with a large brim for protection from sun.
  6. Rain gear (i.e. rain coat, rain pants – not the cheap disposable kind).  IT WILL RAIN!!
  7. Sunscreen and lip balm.  IT WILL GET HOT!! DON'T EXPECT SHADE!
  8. Work gloves.
  9. Alarm clock (do not plan to rely on your cell phone!) with extra batteries.
  10. Flashlight with extra batteries and/or mini lantern and/or headlamp.
  11. Toiletry kit, including insect repellent, camp towel/washcloth, biodegradable soap, toilet paper. This should all fit in a quart-sized bag for the mountain session.
  12. Daypack for field trips and survey.
  13. Water bottles and/or Camelbak hydration system for hikes and field trips.
  14. Water purifier/sanitizer (steripen, iodine tablets, gravity system, pump, or drops). ESSENTIAL!
  15. Bear spray and holster, i.e. Counter Assault or UDAP.  It must be an approved bear spray not mace.
  16. Backpacking backpack, in which you are able to fit all the gear you will need for up to 20 days.  Internal frames generally work better.  Make sure that you are properly fitted for the pack!  Be prepared to carry your pack for up to 4 miles uphill in adverse conditions and across rapidly-moving mountain streams.  Loaded packs should NOT weigh more than 30-40 lbs.  We will weigh your packs. 

Other Optional Equipment:

  1. Small personal first aid.
  2. Sunglasses.
  3. Bandana.
  4. Pocket knife.
  5. Cotton sheet for inside your sleeping bag.
  6. Pencils, pens, sharpies, clipboard.
  7. Camera.
  8. Swimsuit
  9. Sewing kit.
  10. Camp chair, stool, or lawn chair.
  11. Wet wipes (scent free).
  12. Trekking pole or walking stick for rivers.
  13. Square trowel, metric measuring tape, paint brushes.
  14. Compass (i.e. Silva, Brunton).
  15. Waterproof dry bag for personal items.
  16. Rechargeable portable solar charger.
  17. Gaiters (for cheat grass demons!.

** We recommend that you do not purchase tents, sleeping bags, or backpacks from Dick’s Sporting Goods, (clothing is ok, including boots), MC Sports, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or any similar store.  Their products generally fall apart quickly, resulting in cold, wet, angry campers.  We recommend the following online vendors: REI,,  In Bloomington, shop at JL Waters.  In Cody, shop at Sierra Trading Post or Sunlight Sports.  We will host a gear session at JL Waters so that experts can answer your questions.  Remember that you are likely going to have to carry your personal gear into the backcountry, over difficult terrain.  Your load should reflect this.  Some personal items can be secured in Cody during the field sessions.