Artifact Identification at the Wylie House

by Lauren Schumacher

My name is Lauren Schumacher and I’m a sophomore studying history and archaeology. I participated in the Wylie House field school in summer 2018, and am now working with the Wylie House and the Glenn Black Lab to help process some Wylie collections and develop a mapping system to log artifacts found on the property in the future.

Garden volunteers have been finding artifacts on the property long before the field school excavations took place. Although the most artifacts were recovered during the construction of the Education Center in 2009, bottles, ceramics, buttons, and bones are often found in and around the garden beds. Since these are isolated artifacts found outside of an official archaeological dig, part of my job has been to create a user-friendly digital map and artifact form to allow people to pinpoint where they found an artifact and describe what it is. This is a way to ensure we have information about the artifact from the time it was found and to make future artifact processing more organized. As artifacts begin to be logged, it will be interesting to see the distribution of artifacts on the map and if there are any concentrations of certain artifact types in a particular area.

In addition to the digital map, I’ve been making an artifact identification guide and an animal bone identification guide for the Wylie House. This process has consisted of researching and compiling information about the major categories of artifacts found at the Wylie House: ceramics, bottles, nails, flat glass, buttons, marbles, and bricks. Each of these categories are broken down into more specific types, such as material, decoration, and use. The hope is that this guide will help students and volunteers better identify and describe artifacts. For example, using the guide, one would be able to identify a ceramic fragment as “salt glazed stoneware” instead of just “ceramic.” Similarly, the bone identification guide will help with the identification of animal bones and butcher marks. In this guide, I looked at the skeletal structure of common types of animals raised and consumed on a 19th century frontier farm: horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and deer. This guide proved harder to research, as nearly every search for specific bones or marks just turned up articles on grilling or pictures of modern butchering. However, I also found this research very interesting as I had never studied bones or butchering techniques before.

As the semester goes on, I look forward to helping the Wylie House as they process more artifacts in their collection and prepare for future excavations!

Processing Artifacts from the Wylie House

by Lauren Schumacher

I’ve spent most of the year getting to know the various Wylie House collections. After being introduced to the Wylie House through the summer field school, I’ve started to process the artifacts rescued during the construction of the education center at Wylie, helped process the artifacts collected during the field school, and completed a Wylie ceramic analysis project for a class in laboratory methods in archaeology.

I started processing the collection at Wylie last semester by roughly sorting the artifacts into their types and cleaning them. Once they were sorted into the broad categories of glass, metal, and ceramic, I started to further sort the ceramics into categories based on the type of ceramic, decorations, and type of vessel sherd (rim, body, or base). Once the sorting is finished, we will be able to start labeling the artifacts and entering them into the database. The system for labeling will be a little less complicated than the one we have been using for the summer excavation collection, since these artifacts weren’t formally excavated. Working with the ceramics has been fun, but I’m looking forward to finishing the sorting and start the labeling process as it will be a nice change of pace.

From this work at Wylie, labeling the summer excavation artifacts has been interesting since I’ve been able to recognize many of the pieces through my other work with Wylie artifacts. In particular, there is a set of glass tumblers that I first saw in Sherry’s collection that continue to pop up in the glass fragments collected during the summer excavation. Finding these surprising little connections has definitely made the labeling of hundreds of flat glass fragments more exciting. With that being said, I am looking forward to being done with the glass and starting to label the metal artifacts. After seeing a collection all the way through from excavation to labeling, I’m excited to get back to work on the Wylie collection and see it completely processed after being neglected for so many years.

The GBL’s Historic Image Collection: August 2015 – January 2019

by Bailey Foust

I began at the GBL as a work-study student starting my senior year at IU, in fall of 2015. I worked with Alex Elliott on the Type Collection Drawers for my first few weeks before moving onto the Historic Image Collection. At the time my only knowledge of Angel Mounds was that it was near Evansville and that my paternal grandparents took my brother on a trip there without me. Now the majority of what I know comes from working with images of the site. Before I began working with the Historic Image Collection, the media room had the aroma of an open jar of pickles, called vinegar syndrome, it was an evident clue that the lab’s film was deteriorating.

Alex Elliott and Bailey Foust in front of Mound A at Angel Mounds State Historic Site, during the August 2017 solar eclipse. Photo by Corwin A. Deckard.
September 2015 to August 2016

I started with the slide collection, which was housed between two slide cabinets, one equipped with a light box.  Currently there are 7,117 slides in the inventory. I would remove slides by row, record their information, and assign a catalog number. I then digitized the slides, (the scanner model I used was Epson Perfection v700 photo). Eventually the slides were removed from their hangers and placed in archival boxes (there are 35 in total). The slide collection as a whole contains a fair amount of duplication of negatives and Polaroids; it also contains more candid images from digs than the negative collection, which often focus on documenting excavation features.

August 2016 – February 2018

I moved on to the 7,200 negatives; they were originally housed in two filing cabinets with old envelopes. Opening these drawers would release a powerful odor of vinegar syndrome.

The negative inventory was started by Colin Gliniecki, while I worked on the slides, but was completed by me as Colin moved onto other projects.  I started the negative digitization by scanning the 4” x 5” negatives that are in good condition, this is a total of 2,977 negatives. I rehoused the negatives to new envelopes as I scanned them, rewriting the caption as best I could. Since scanning has downtime, I continued writing captions for new envelopes. Eventually I started placing the rehoused negatives in archival boxes. As more negatives went in archival boxes, they were removed from the filing cabinet and placed on shelving in the closet. The vinegar syndrome smell lessened once the negatives had new envelopes and were in archival boxes.

After scanning the 4” x 5”s, Jennifer St. Germain purchased an anti-newton ring glass dry mounting so the approximately 4,500 negatives of other sizes could be scanned. To uses this I had to tape the corners of each negative to the glass. This was more time consuming, as I couldn’t prep the next negative until scanning was complete.

The dry mounting station with anti-newton ring glass used for negative digitization.

A note on condition: Many of the GBL’s negatives are in fine condition but others have experienced deterioration called channeling.

N1668 “A.M. Office Bldgs 10-3-39”. This digitized image of the WPA office buildings shows negative deterioration.

It starts as warping and bubbles in the negative but eventually leads to the emulsion and plastic support separating.

Image Collections Online

Once a sizable number of images had been digitized, Jen worked with IU Digital Libraries to create the GBL’s Image Collections Online Site (ICO). ICO is photo cataloging application that allows us to store and share the GBL’s images.

Directory

One of my roadblocks was that I didn’t have an overall sense of people’s names. They often appear as shorthand, a nickname, or just the surname; so it wasn’t always apparent to me that a name was a name. For example “F.M.S.” is Frank Meryl Setzler and “West” is La Mont West. In order to have accurate and consistent information, I started a list of people’s names. This led me to create a directory of persons for Angel Mounds Field Schools 1945-1962. The directory puts together some basic information, a portrait, full name, institution and class during attendance. To help with this task, I looked though the Angel Mounds Associated documents and field school applications.

Prints

I suspect that the core print collection was started by Glenn Black, as some of the captions are followed by his initials. The prints are mounted on cards typed with captions, unfortunately the cards are warped. These prints started out in wooden drawers, but were moved to archival boxes.  These boxes have been organized by unit (in the case of Angel Mounds), county (if from Indiana), and state. The number on the card, should in theory, accurately link to the negative (which is now, hopefully, digitized).

With summer ending and the humidity lowering, it was finally time to package the slide and negative boxes for the freezer. In total I packaged 112 boxes. After creating and applying labels to the boxes, they were wrapped in vapor proof barrier.

Tape was applied over all the seams, and an additional label was placed on the barrier exterior. It then went into a bag with a humidity indicator that was sealed and taped up. The difference between packaging slides and negatives, is slides were bagged in groups of 4 and negatives as singles.

Once the freezer was full, Jen and I plugged it in and turned on, it made a happy beeping- I thought it sounded celebratory.

Freezer partially filled with slide and negative boxes.
Here are a few of my favorite images:
Being as smitten as I am by Frances Martin, I have to include a photo of her. This image was digitized from a print (with no negative), and shows William Rude and Frances Martin labeling artifacts in the lab building at Angel Mounds.
This slide (S1698) shows Lilly Marchant, Glenn Black, and Bettye Broyle during the 1954 Angel Mounds field school. I’ve always loved the way this kodachrome slide captures the fire.
This slide (S1573) shows Ida Black and William L. Rude in a canoe at Angel Mounds during the spring flood of 1945. Per the caption, it was taken from the eastern edge of the village with the camera oriented northeast toward the administration area.
A slide (S2046) capturing an “evening storm” during 1959 over lab building at Angel Mounds.
One of my unexpected finds was a negative (N9282) showing Glenn’s paternal Grandparents. The Caption reads: “Personal Glenn A. Black My father’s father and mother. Originals owned by Bert White of Brownsburg, Ind.”
This negative (N2772) shows John Longbons, Elizabeth Brockschlager, and Ann Leist “figuring contours” for S11D during 1951 Angel Mounds field school.

Angel Archives, Box 56

December 10, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

Continuing where my last blog post left off, I am now about halfway through Indiana newspaper articles from the 1960s that mention Angel Mounds. I started coming across much longer pieces about the site mid-1964. These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel. My first explanation for this change was that by the mid-60s a) a critical mass of information had been collected about Angel, b) Angel had been a national monument and state park for a sufficient amount of time, and c) a level of widespread publicity about the site had been reached such that the public was finally informed and interested enough to know more about Angel as a place that they were welcomed to visit and feel entitled to inform themselves about as average citizens given the right and ability to learn about this heritage…that is, the mid-60s marked a transition of Angel’s status from the domain of academia in concert with governing bodies to that of academia in concert with the public….

But, a discovery made in the early stages of Glenn Black Lab’s collaboration with the Indiana Historical Society for an upcoming exhibit about Angel Mounds has caused me to question this theory, and wonder whether the lack of lengthy, juicy news pieces on Angel prior to the mid-1960s was due instead to a gap in the archive database I have been using.

Newspaper article with title "Washington Notebook..."
These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel.

Angel archives box #56 holds a folder of newspaper clippings from 1938 and 1939 published in the Evansville Courier/Evansville Courier and Press There are multipage articles about Angel, covering its purchase and the politics surrounding its acquisition as well as early findings at the site, quotes from Glenn Black, community and government opinion about the excavation, and large cartoons relating to these debates, along with illustrated and elaborated maps of the site. These articles are not included in the Newspaper Archive IU Libraries-linked database I have been using, and the Evansville Courier has not appeared on any database of digitized news articles I have found so far. Further, Hannah Rea has noted that newspaper articles in different Indiana cities early in the Angel excavation used different terms for the site, e.g. “Indian mounds”, “ancient mounds”. Searching for these phrases may pull up longer articles that include in depth information and conjecture about the project’s findings like that seen in the pieces from the 60s sampled above.

Fall 2018 Newsletter

From the desk of the curator

Click here to read a message from Curator Melody Pope.


conferences

Midwest Archaeology Conference (MAC)

This year’s MAC was held at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Several GBL staff presented research on the Bicentennial dig at the Wylie House, including Liz Watts Malouchos and Maclaren Guthrie.

Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums  (ATALM)

Director April Sievert and Librarian Kelsey Grimm, IU NAGPRA Director Jayne-Leigh Thomas, and program manager and former NAGPRA research fellow Teresa Nichols  went to the 2018 International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Read Kelsey’s post about NAGPRA in archives!

Southeastern Archaeology Conference (SEAC)

Paul Welch and Melody Pope at SEAC

Curator Melody Pope attended the 75th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Augusta, Georgia.  Pope, along with colleague Paul Welch, presented results of their recent research that involves replicating and  using microdrills to study the wear patterns that develop on drill bits used to bore holes in fluorite, cannel coal, and marine shell.  This newly-launched collaborative research project between Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and the GBL at IU uses experimental archaeology to interpret the Fluorite Workshop at the Kincaid site located in the lower Ohio Valley.


Collections news

Save America’s Treasures Grant

In September 2018, the GBL was awarded a Save America’s Treasures grant to rehabilitate and rehouse about 2.8 million artifacts from Angel Mounds over the next 3 years. These grants are administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education. Keep checking our website for up-to-date information as we officially launch the project in January 2019!

More about IMLS: The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.

GLOVE Digitizing – Shawnee THDS

Photo courtesy of IU Communications

Selena McCracken was hired at the end of January 2018 to digitize the Shawnee Tribal History Document Series (THDS) of the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection. This was done as part of a contract established with the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and an IMLS grant. As of September, Selena finished digitizing the series, amassing 12,603 images that will be made viewable online via the finding aid.

Kellar Papers Processing and Rehousing

Photo courtesy of IU Communications

Bill Koester worked on processing and rehousing the collection of Dr. James Kellar, a noted archaeologist and the first director of Indiana University’s Glenn Black Lab. Read more about his work on his blog!


Summer news

 

Wylie House Excavations

Over the summer, the GBL continued work at the Wylie House as part of IU’s celebration of the upcoming bicentennial. Students involved in the dig posted weekly updates on our blog, find them here!

Angel Mounds Historic Marker

A photo of the marker at Angel Mounds, courtesy of Mike Linderman.

April Sievert and Mike Linderman with the marker at Angel Mounds.

Over the summer, a marker was erected at the Angel Mounds Historic Site to recognize Glenn Black for his contribution to Indiana archaeology and to Angel Mounds.


Exhibits

Out With the Old: “Containing Knowledge: Ceramics at the GBL”

Exploring pottery as containers in both literal and metaphorical ways, this exhibit featured a selection of whole pots as well as objects used to make and decorate ceramics. Technology, decoration, use, and cosmology were touched on through the use of beautiful images and pieces. A special section of the exhibit looked at the work of local archaeology students and their efforts to temper clay and build and fire pots in the ways that Mississippian people might have.

The exhibit closed in Summer 2018.

 In With the New: “Animal~Spirit~Human”

For Themester 2018, the GBL explores interpretation of the complex and varying relationships between animals and humans in the ancient Midwest. Depictions of animals are known to be among some of the earliest mural and decorative art, for example, the well-known Paleolithic cave art of Europe that depicts now-extinct species. Whether rendered into wood, clay, stone, metal, or shell, animals contribute much to the symbolic and iconographic content of Native American representation.

The exhibit opened in October 2018.


volunteer and student appreciation

           Collections: Hannah Ballard, Preet Gill, Darlene McDermott, and                                                       Amanda Pavot

           Library: Bill Koester, Victoria Kvietek, Selena McCracken, and                                                          Brianna McLaughlin

           Programming: Hannah Rea

 Thank you to all who gave their time this semester!


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Fall 2018: From the Desk of the Curator

December 6, 2018

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the summer and fall at the GBL it would be FIRST.  Librarian Kelsey Grimm and Collections Manager, Jennifer St. Germain officially joined our staff in July, growing our professional staff for the first time by two!  We installed a new exhibit in our main gallery, a first for the present staff.  In partnership with IU Themester 2018, Animal-Spirit-Human, opened in October, followed by two related programming events in early November.  We are excited about the exhibit and the improvements it brought to the Mentoria Headdy Hall.

In early fall we learned that the Save America’s Treasures grant proposal we submitted over the winter was selected for funding.  Curating Angel Mounds Legacy Collection was one of only seven Museum Collection grants awarded by the NPS through an interagency agreement with the IMLS.  This is an important first for GBL, and Angel Mounds.  For the FIRST time since arriving on the IU campus in the late 1960s, the grant will allow the Angel Mounds legacy collection, (1939-1983), to be organized and housed in archival-quality containers.  Rehousing the collection is a first step in its eventual transfer to the new ALF 3 collections facility on the IUB campus.  The Curating Angel project will also organize the associated excavation records, create a complete digitized catalogue of the 1939-1983 images, reorganize the research collections, and no doubt spawn many new collections-based research projects.  We are excited to embark on this important FIRST!

In addition to these important firsts, we were also busy hosting researchers including some familiar to the GBL, former Curator of Collections, Dru McGill, and other Southeastern and Midwestern archaeologists David Dye, Paul Welch, Cheryl Munson, Ed Herrmann, and Cheryl Claassen. These researchers took an interest in the whole pot collection, state site files, Angel Mounds and other late pre-contact collections, and materials analysis laboratory. We also provided images from the 1974 Prairie Creek Field School to the Daviess County Museum, for a new exhibit and we are currently collaborating with the Indiana Historical Society on the You Are There 1939: Exploring Angel Mounds exhibit, planned for a spring 2019 opening. It is exciting to see all of this interest in GBL collections and facilities!

 

 

 

Melody Pope, Curator

“Angel Mounds” in Indiana newspaper articles, Update 1: First Half of the 20th Century (1923-1959)

November 8, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

The Project

For the past 3 weeks I have been searching IU Library’s Newspaper Archive resource for mentions of Angel Mounds archaeological site in Indiana newspapers following the site’s discovery early in the 20th century. The first article I found was from 1923, in the Evansville Crescent. This earliest mention is the only one from the ’20s, and the city the newspaper was from makes sense as Angel is located near Evansville. The short article is titled “Geology Class Explorers,” and briefly details a class trip to Angel, ‘six mounds that shed light on pre-historical America.’

The Newspaper Archive allows me to sort the remaining search results by decade, showing that there were  three mentions of Angel in the ’30s, all from 1938, the year the 400 acres of land Angel sits on was purchased by the Indiana Historical Society; 32 from the ’40s, illustrating the co-evolution of the public’s interest in the pre-history of Indiana that could be revealed by Glenn Black’s excavations and the state’s interest in and financial support of Angel Mounds’ development as a state park and historical monument; 42 from the ’50s which describe society meetings featuring guest lecturers (including Glenn A Black) and documentary screenings about the Angel excavation at local primary and secondary schools, weekend historical tours—free and open to the public—of Angel and other state monuments and important sites, IU field schools, and plans to consider Angel for national monument status.

Short summaries of each article’s focus are recorded in an Excel document along with the date, year, and city of publication, the title of article, and the newspaper in which it appeared.

Greensburg Daily News, 1941

Tipton Tribune, 1946

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights

1) Greensburg, 1941: “Angel Mounds of Evansville of Interest”

This article was of interest to me because it was the first mention I found describing an interaction between Indiana University and Angel Mounds/Glenn A. Black: that Black lectured at Alumni Hall in April 1941. I found the article in the Greensburg Daily News, and provides a lot of information about the early phases of the discovery of Angel Mounds, its purchase (including land formerly part of a farm owned by the Angel family, the site’s namesake), and excavation.

2) Tipton, 1946: “Round Town With The Tribune”

This is my favorite article so far: a column in an issue of the Tipton Tribune published just over a year after V-E Day includes a suggestion for a new veteran’s rehabilitation program from Glenn Black: participation in the Angel excavation. According to the article, Black had said that such a program would entail “light work…would get the men out of doors and give them something to think about besides themselves.”

3) Seymour, 1949: “Junior Red Cross Here Completes Book on Hoosierana For Chileans”

I think this one is so sweet: the Junior Red Cross chapter at a local high school had received a book about life in Chile/South America from a Chilean high school. They were working on compiling their own scrapbook-style guide to Seymour, IN/the Hoosier state in general to send to the Chilean students with the “goodwill ambassador” who would be traveling to visit the high school in the coming months.  The Seymour students included Angel Mounds among “drawings of famous historical objects” highlighted in the book.

4) Terre Haute, 1950: “Kiwanis Club Observes National Newspaper Week, Speaker Tells Wonders of Southern Indiana”

This last article is especially interesting in the context of the current climate regarding the media. A professor of journalism and then director of communications at IU, Mr. Laurence Wheeler, came to speak at a meeting of the Kiwanis Club about the important services that newspapers provide. He gave a ‘verbal column’ on the important history of Southern Indiana as an example of the kind of information that could be shared most effectively in newspaper form.

Community life: the Midwest of the early 20th century

Hoosier Historical Institutes Series

Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions—ranging from a few days to several weeks long—were attended by school teachers, professors, married couples, and other interested community members from towns across the state. The inaugural series were put on by the Indiana Historical Society, but before long other community groups and historical societies organized their own smaller versions of the institutes: weekend tours and field trips led by historians, archaeologists, and other lecturers and lay enthusiasts.

 

Planning an Exhibit

November 27, 2018

Planning an exhibit takes a lot of time and energy on the part of all involved. During the process of putting up our new exhibit, “Animal~Spirit~Human,” we created a to-do list to make sure we checked all the boxes and put up an exhibit we were proud of.

Here’s a condensed version of that list:

1. Generate Theme

Our exhibit followed this semester’s Themester theme of animal-human relationships. “Animal~Spirit~Human” follows that theme by investigating the role of animals in sustaining and inspiring past and present Native people of the Eastern Woodlands. Once we had our theme in mind, we were able to create a uniform aesthetic to make sure all of the cases matched. This entailed picking fonts and a color scheme, and determining what size each of the different labels should be, to make sure all exhibit goers could easily read them.

2. Select Artifacts/Prepare Condition Reports

With that theme in mind, we were able to get an idea of what artifacts to include. Each case plays a different role in telling the story of animal-human relationships. The cases on the north wall of the gallery hall serve as an introduction to the exhibit. The east wall examines a worldview in terms of different spheres, such as air and water. The south wall compares pre- and post-European contact animal populations. And the west wall is dedicated to examining animal-human relations at Angel Mounds.

An example of an artifact photo, this one of an owl effigy pot (18-170-0).

This means each wall’s theme determines the contents of its cases, allowing us to get an idea of what artifacts would best explain and exemplify the theme. Once we selected the artifacts, we photographed them and wrote condition reports. These detail the current condition of the artifacts by noting breakage, cracks, and repairs. They allow us to keep track of where the artifact is and why it was removed from the collections. When we take the exhibit down, we’ll do another round of condition reports to see if anything changed.

3. Prepare Exhibit Cases

Repainting the exhibit cases took GBL staff several days of after-hours work.

Putting in a new exhibit required us to take out the old, Containing Knowledge: Ceramics at the GBL.” After doing the follow-up photos and condition reports, we returned the artifacts to our collections. Once we removed the old display blocks and the cases were empty, we spent several days cleaning and repainting them. This brightened the exhibit space and made the gallery look more inviting. Many artifacts are unable to stand on their own, so it was necessary to create mounts for them. We carved mounts out of foam and other materials on which to display them. The foam mounts were covered with a layer of fabric in between the material and the artifact, for both the safety of the artifact and to provide a contrasting background.

4. Research Collections and Write Text

Now it was time to write the text and select relevant images. Each case has four categories of labels: the Title (A), the Subheader (B), the Body Text (C), and the Artifact ID Labels (D). Defining the terminology of labels early on can prevent confusion later in the process, and make it easier to visualize the layout of the case before anything actually goes up. To write descriptions of the artifacts and their relevance to the theme, we utilize the collections and the resources in our library and archives.

5. Print Text/Images and Cut to Size

It took several hours to print each label, in addition to the time dedicated to trim and place them.

The next step was to print the text and images. This is a very time-consuming process, due to the size and amount of the various labels. We used the large printer over at our neighbor, the Mathers Museum, to print on Print-N-Stick paper, which has an adhesive backing that allows us to adjust the placement of the labels if necessary without damaging the paint in the cases.

6. Install Artifacts

During this step, timing is important since we can’t leave artifacts in unlocked cases. In most cases, the text was the first to go in. Then blocks or risers which elevated or raised the artifacts to needed heights were selected based on the artifact selection and case design. Artifacts and mounts, as well as barriers between artifacts and painted surfaces, were then added. Once the artifacts were in place, the case stays locked; so if text needed adjusting it was much easier to do that while the case was open and easily accessible.

7. Finishing Touches

Now it was time for last-minute touch-ups to labels and placement of any other artifacts. These included repairs to the overhead lights in the cases, and the erection of the folding wall in the middle of the hall, which displays shields from four tribes and descriptions of their histories, provided by the tribes themselves.

8. Sharing the Exhibit

Marketing the exhibit was an ongoing process throughout development and installation, but the main push came upon our opening in early October.

9. Events

An image from Cheryl Claassen’s talk.

Finally, to celebrate the opening of our exhibit, we threw events: on Thursday, Nov. 1, we had a talk by Dr. Cheryl Claassen, “On Deer, Shell Beads, and the Milky Way.” The following day, Friday, Nov. 2, we had a Themester panel, featuring Amanda Burtt, Dr. Claassen, Justin Downs, and Gary Morseau.

 

We learned a lot in the process of putting up this exhibit, and look forward to applying these new insights in the future. In the meantime, we hope you’ll come down to see the exhibit and celebrate Themester by attending some of the other great events on campus this semester!

 

NAGPRA in the Archives

October 23, 2018

by Kelsey Grimm, Librarian

Early this month I had the fortune to attend the 11th Annual International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museum in Prior Lake, Minnesota. This is a wonderful conference all around and brings together those who work to protect and advance indigenous cultures. There are day trips and workshops in the days leading up to and a variety of sessions during the two day conference. This was my second time attending.

The session that most piqued my interest occurred on the second day: “NAGPRA in the Archives: Repatriating Records” presented by Meghan Dorey of the Myaamia Heritage Museum & Archive and Joe Halloran and Jeff Holth of Jacobson Law Group.

My job as Librarian of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology means that I had to quickly learn about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). I haven’t directly had to understand the law, but most of my colleagues are in constant communication with the NAGPRA office of Indiana University. They are working with several native communities to repatriate ancestors and associated objects. Because of these NAGPRA conversations concerning the archaeological collections, the GBL has been able to collaborate and partner with these native communities on other projects, some that directly have benefited the library and archives. NAGPRA is something that I’ve been aware of, but not had to directly understand.

Throughout “NAGPRA in the Archives,” Meghan Dorey, Joe Halloran, and Jeff Holth told the story of how two Miami Council Books were returned to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

Upon taking the job of Myaamia Heritage Museum & Archive Manager, Meghan found a file of photocopied documents titled Miami Council Books of the mid-19th century. It was useful at the time just as a reference document, but eventually Meghan wanted to find out where the physical documents were. Her personal research led her to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma…90 miles from the Myaamia Heritage Museum in Miami, Oklahoma. Within the Thomas Richardville manuscript collection she found the Miami National Council Book (1860-1862). When visiting the collection to obtain better digital images of the Book, a staff member went to bring the book to Meghan and instead brought a second Miami Council Book!*

When Meghan returned, she believed that these items should be returned to the Miami Tribe. They were detailed accounts of tribal affairs, records of meetings, and copies of letters. She did more research and presented her thoughts to the Tribe’s leaders. They agreed and contacted their legal representatives. It was decided to just ask the Gilcrease Museum if they would return the Miami Council Books to the Miami Nation – unsurprisingly, they replied no.

This led to a two-year process of collecting information and preparing a case for why the Miami Council Books should be returned to the Tribe. They discussed using replevin to obtain the documents – a procedure enabling the recovery of property taken wrongfully or unlawfully, pending a final determination by a court of law – a procedure used by the National Archives Records Administration of the United States. The second option was by using NAGPRA.

NAGPRA is legislation that provides institutions receiving federal funding with a process for transferring Native American cultural items – human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony – to lineal descendants and federally recognized tribes. An object of cultural patrimony is an object that possesses continuing cultural, traditional, or historical importance to the heritage of a group. Think about what the Declaration of Independence means to the United States… it is not owned by a single person; it represents the history of a nation. It is a document, yes, but it is an object of cultural patrimony too.

The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma was preparing to take their case before the NAGPRA Review Committee. They are not the official deciding body, their decisions are not legally binding, but they do hold a kind of weight – a precedent would be set if they were to decide if a document/manuscript were an object of cultural patrimony.

Days before the review hearing, the Gilcrease Museum returned the Miami Council Books to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. This was outside of any legal or official system. The NAGPRA Review Committee therefore decided to not review the case since the materials had been returned. No precedent has been set on the matter of documents being repatriated.

What does any of this mean to you?

NAGPRA legislation is not taught in library and archive settings.

I would hazard that most archivists have not even heard of NAGPRA. It is nowhere on their radar, unless they happen to be affiliated with a museum working to repatriate Native American ancestors and funerary objects. NAGPRA has been focused on ancestors and funerary objects, not documents, not records. Should they?

I don’t have those answers yet, fully, but believe archivists need to be aware of NAGPRA. It might mean repatriating documents to tribes, but it might not. It means bringing the tribes to the table. It means better understanding the collections we’re tasked with preserving.

 

*As a side note, archival finding aids do not usually list every item within the collection. Finding aids are general inventories to give a potential research the idea of what might be found in the collection… not to list every item. It is not unusual to see that a staff member did not initially bring the correct item.

The GBL Goes to MAC

October 9, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media/Outreach

An archaeological conference is an interesting experience for a non-archaeologist. As a social media/outreach person who’s always wanted to attend an academic conference, I decided to tag along to this year’s Midwestern Archaeological Conference (MAC) to post about the experience, and satisfy my own curiosity.

Thursday night was a reception, great for running into colleagues you hadn’t seen in years, to catch up and learn about research done in Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology, the setting of the gathering.

Friday was the first major day of symposiums and poster sessions. It was smaller than previous years, and therefore had an intimate atmosphere as one had more time to peruse the research and ask questions of the presenters. The presenters themselves came from universities and agencies from across the Midwest, and included our own Liz Watts Malouchos and Maclaren Guthrie, who presented on themes of the IU Bicentennial and Wylie House excavation.

Everyone was incredibly enthusiastic, and willing to answer any questions about their research. I attended my first symposium, a series of presentations along a central theme, in the morning; each presenter was similarly enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and educated the audience on their current research and future plans.

Saturday, Day 3, was packed with poster presentations and symposiums, and last-minute catching up with colleagues and friends as attendees began to leave town. It’s interesting, as a non-archaeologist, to learn about things I wouldn’t normally encounter. It helps to contextualize terminology I’ve heard in passing, and see how it’s applied in research and fieldwork of others in the region.

There was a recurring theme of conversation, and how necessary discussion was between those within and outside of the region. Outreach to communities and to other academics is necessary for interpretation of data, and meaningful utilization.

In sum, it was an interesting experience. I’m glad I, as an associate of archaeologists, had the experience to view the inner workings of the Midwestern archaeological community.