Over 10,000 years of human occupation in Nebraska took place prior to written records, map making, and photography. The only way to tell the stories of ancient people is through the archeological remains and oral traditions they left behind. Archeological sites are fragile and non-renewable resources, and modern land use practices and urban expansion are taking an alarming toll on the archeological record. Looting for fun or profit is also having serious effects on significant sites. A looted or otherwise disturbed site is nearly impossible to interpret for the public. For example, the buildings reconstructed at historical parks are the result of archeological investigations. Had these sites been vandalized and large amounts of artifacts carried off, it would have been impossible to determine the locations of doors and windows and assign functions and activities to the buildings.
The Nebraska State Historical Society recognizes the need to strike a balance between archeological conservation and public desire to participate in research. A new publication series, Explore Nebraska Archeology, was developed to meet the needs of the public. The Society invites the public to contact us about volunteer opportunities. The Society sponsors bus tours of sites and volunteer excavations.
Pawnee students complete internships with Archeology Division
The Society, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma cooperated in sponsoring internships in Nebraska archeology for three Pawnee students. The program grew out of a series of lectures NSHS archeologist Rob Bozell presented in Pawnee, Oklahoma, last winter. Participants included Kay Tefertiller, Ed Echo-Hawk, and J. P. LaVenture. Kay and Ed are students at Northern Oklahoma College and Oklahoma State University respectively, and J. P. is a high school student in the St. Louis, Missouri, area.
The program was designed to give the students broad exposure to archeological sites and research in Nebraska and was particularly relevant to the Pawnee because Nebraska is their ancestral homeland. Fieldwork included assisting with excavations at an early 1700s Native American village near Papillion and an 800-year-old village near Gretna. The students were involved with excavation and soil processing. They also were trained in artifact cleaning, cataloging, and analysis. The visit included a one-day field trip to the Genoa area to see a series of Pawnee village sites dating between 1600 and 1870. Pawnee historian Roger Echo-Hawk visited with the students and discussed oral tradition and archeological approaches to the past.
Working at an early eighteenth-century Native American village near Papillion are Ed Echo-Hawk (left), intern; Trish Nelson, NSHS archeological technician; Gayle Carlson, NSHS curator of anthropology; Rob Bozell, NSHS associate director, archeology; and J. P. LaVenture and Kay Teffertiller, interns.
Please call the Society archeological staff at 402-471-4760 for more information.