Monday, September 26, 2005

Archaeological Dig

My sister Michelle and I checked out an archaeological dig currently in progress near People's Park in Spokane. I heard about the dig from my uncle Pat and in the Spokesman Review. Without repeating too much of the original news release, the city of Spokane planned to build some kind of drainage project on that site, but had to complete an archaeological survey before beginning. An archaeological team from Eastern Washington University began the survey several weeks ago. The project was expected to end quickly, but the team made a few surprising discoveries, including stone tools not previously believed to exist in this region and many layers of human habitation. They estimate continuous human occupation of this land dating back at least 4,000 years, and perhaps as many as 12,000 years!

Spokane Tribal elders have always said: our ancestors have been here a long time. New scientific evidence confirms this fact.

When Michelle and I arrived on site, the archaeological team received us graciously and kindly answered all our questions. Of course, I think it helped them to know my uncle Andy Andrews Jr., who daily represents the tribe in overseeing the cultural impact of the dig.

As a member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, I felt a deep connection to the land, especially knowing my own ancestors likely used this location for as many as 12,000 years.

Of particular interest, Ryan Ives from EWU showed us several layers of human habitation, including several ancient campfires with the burned soil was still visible. He even gave us a sample of fire-broken rocks dating between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. As I held a rock in my hand, I couldn't help feel humbled to know it came from a campfire thousands of years ago.

Special thanks to Ryan Ives, Sara Walker, and Eastern Washington University.

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