Skip to main content
Indiana University Bloomington
  • People

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, 2015

Information Packet


Indiana University will again be offering its cooperative program in archaeological field methods for summer 2014, in the beautiful Absaroka Mountain range of Wyoming. This field school is a holistic, field-based program in the social history and human ecology of the Northwestern High 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, they will also have the opportunity to attend the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s annual Indian Pow Wow (June 21-22).

Sessions 1 and 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 recently identified 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 high country. 

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 11 - June 13
  • SESSION 1: June 14- July 1
  • SESSION 2: July 7 - July 22


IU Summer credit hour fees (6 credits)
Indiana residents undergrads: ($278.65 x 6) = $1,672.02
Non-residents undergraduates: ($970.63 x 6) = 5,823.78
Indiana residents graduate students: ($331.56 x 6) = $1,989.36
Non-residents graduate students: ($994.28x 6) = $5,965.68

Field school fees
Covers food, some transportation, field supplies = $900

Total for IU Undergraduates (Indiana residents) = $2,572.02

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 tripsand during the break, and equipment for six weeks of outdoor living.


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 14th and require a letter of support from Dr. Scheiber – plan accordingly and contact Dr. Scheiber well in advance (by February 15th)!!  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.



Blue Team excavating at Two EagleStudents need to provide their own transportation to and from the field school.  If driving, they should 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 Sunday, June 8th   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).  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 24th.   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 10th.



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 the student needs 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 not have access to refrigerators and electricity.  We will set up a canvas wall tent for our kitchen and cook over 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. 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 want to 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 menu.

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 Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Irma Hotel, the Buffalo Bill Dam Interpretive Center, Chief Plenty Coup State Park, Heart Mountain, Thermopolis Hot Springs, the Wind River Reservation, 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, Wyoming, 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." This year, 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 2-5 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.
  • 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 small 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 the grill if they want it.  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 over one of the breaks. There is a park entrance fee of $25 per vehicle (i.e. around $5 per person). Campground fees generally range from $12-20 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.  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 assistants – they may have insights into what is inappropriate behavior that you have never 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 SOLO Wilderness emergency services.



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 the National Outdoor Leadership School (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 who are 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. You will need them!

  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 you 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 closed toed shoes in rattlesnake country or when staff tells you need to.
  3. Socks, underwear, pants, shirts for up to 20 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!!
  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.
  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)
  15. 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.


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. Bear spray.
  16. Waterproof dry bag for personal items.

** We recommend that you do not purchase tents, sleeping bags, or backpacks from the following locations:  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: ebay (make sure you are bidding on a reputable brand), REI,,  In Bloomington, shop at J.L. Waters on the square.  In Cody, shop at Sierra Trading Post or Sunlight Sports. Some personal items can be secured in Cody during the field sessions.

** Remember that you are likely going to have to carry your personal gear into the backcountry, over difficult terrain.  Your load should reflect this.