Missing the Meaning – Understanding the Material Culture of Protest

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Recently I collaborated with Dr. Miriam Villanueva of the Department of History and Social Science at Phillips Academy to create a new lesson that focused on both the American Indian Movement and the takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969 by Native activists. 

Our focus was to have students understand how Native protests are centered around issues regarding tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and meaningful intergovernmental consultation. We also sought to highlight how the ignorance of the American public regarding these issues perpetuates misconceptions about these protests while also connecting them to modern issues.

To do this we examined two protest signs; one from the 1969 Alcatraz Occupation and one from the recent Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)/Standing Rock protests. 

We asked the students to investigate the two types of meaning perceived in each of the signs: 

1.) the general public’s understanding of the sign. 

2.) the message the originator of the sign intended to convey. 

During the activity the students worked together to create the following interpretations of each of the protest signs we examined, based on other contextual information that we used.

For background information about the Alcatraz Protest

Incorrect Response: Native Americans are welcomed at the Island because it has always been Indian Land.
Correct Response: It is a commentary on how white people have simply taken what they wanted and Native people are now just simply playing by the same rules.

The students came to the conclusion that this particular sign is meant more as a commentary on the method used to claim Native land in the past – and less about saying all land was once Native land – when they read the following passage from the Proclamation written by Richard Oaks and other protesters at Alcatraz.

Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People

We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.
We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:

We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man's purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47¢ per acre that the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land. We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of that land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian Affairs [sic] and by the bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity—for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilization and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with all white men.

Next we turned our attention to the recent protests around the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux community. For background information on the DAPL/Standing Rock protests.

Incorrect Response: The protesters are violent!
Correct Response: The sign is satire and a play on “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” policy.

To interpret this particular sign the students drew upon their knowledge of Indian Boarding Schools that we covered in Fall Term. They remembered the program of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” that lead to the creation of the Indian boarding schools.

The students thoughtfully came to the conclusion that the protester was mimicking the phrase “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” to imply that if one removes the capitalist nature of the “Pilgrim” (or white man) that the water and environment will be saved.

We then ended the lesson with a group discussion about how these protests are all connected to each other while at the same time connected to sites and ancestors that are thousands of years old. The students also came up with possible solutions to ensure that the public has a better understanding of the reasons behind the protests so that their ultimate goals are not misinterpreted, thus undermining the power of the protest.

The conversations and points that the students in each of Dr. V’s three classes were incredibly thoughtful and perceptive. Both Dr. V and I thought that this was one of our best lessons that we have created because it seamlessly brought together modern and historical issues while engaging students in close reading of primary sources, mirroring the exact process that students are currently working through for their History 300 research papers.

Much of this lesson was based on the amazing work of April Beisaw and Glynnis E. Olin in their article From Alcatraz to Standing Rock: Archaeology and Contemporary Native American Protests (1969-Today)

dIPPIN’ iN: Quick Conversations with Archaeologists

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Given how wildly successful our Diggin’ In: Digital Lecture series has been, we wanted to expand how our audiences can interact with archaeologists from around the country. 

Our new project – dIPPIN’ IN: Quick Conversations with Archaeologists – highlights the variety of jobs and experiences archaeologists can have by asking each person the same five questions:

  • Describe what kind of archaeology you focus on.
  • How did you get into archaeology?
  • Why should we care about archaeology and history?
  • What is the most exciting thing you ever found?
  • Anything else people should know about archaeology?

It is fascinating to learn about each archaeologist’s career path and what initially hooked them. And, while some answers have been remarkedly similar many are wildly different!

If you want a glimpse into the exciting field of archaeology through the personal lens of an archaeologist, this series is for you.

As we continue to add to the series, you can find the videos here.

And, if you are an archaeologist who wants to participate or if there is someone you want us to interview – let us know!

Technology Meets Creativity at the Peabody

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

This winter I have been exploring and learning a new online platform – PowToon

PowToon is a digital platform that is used to create fully customized videos for a variety of audiences. The videos can be short or long (max 20 min) and can include cartoon elements or real images and video.

My first video is targeted toward new faculty at the school who may not know how they can work with the Peabody. An engaging, fun video – in addition to our course catalogue – will hopefully bring new collaborations and faculty to the Peabody.

I am excited to continue learning this program and producing videos to highlight and augment our educational initiatives and digital programs such as Diggin’ In.

Diggin’ In: Season 2

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

We are tremendously excited to announce the continuation of Diggin’ In: Digital Conversations with Archaeologist. Co-hosted by the Peabody Institute and the Massachusetts Archaeological Society the lecture series brings leading experts and their work directly to our viewers. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Building on the success of the inaugural season of Diggin’ In, which reached over 1000 individuals, Season 2 promises to continue to be especially robust. Outstanding scholars such as Dr. Whitney Battle-Baptist, Dr. Lindsay Montgomery, and Kimberly Smith will cover fascinating topics ranging from Black feminist archaeology, to Comanche rock art, to the artifact patterning of the Victorian practice of picnicking in cemeteries.

Join us on Wednesday January 27, 2021 for the launch of the new season with Joe Bagley, Boston City Archaeologist for his talk Privy to the Past: The History of (and in) Privies. All lectures begin at 1:30 pm. 

If you want to attend one or all of these lectures, please sign up at rspeabody@andover.edu to get on the ZOOM invitation list.

Each episode will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube afterwards.

A Wreck Has Been Wrecked

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Last fall I had the opportunity to work with students and faculty in Outdoor Pursuits in a unique way. Ranbel Sun, Stephanie Cormier, and Miriam Villanueva learned that I knew about a terrestrial ship wreck that the students could visit and asked me to join them on their planned outing to Crane Beach, where the wreck has rested for over 100 years.

Outdoor Pursuits visiting the Ada K. Damon in 2019

The shipwreck that we visited was of the Ada K. Damon in Ipswich, MA. It is a great place to bring students to learn more about maritime archaeology since it is accessible at low tide. Salem State University and partner SEAMAHP have also done field schools at the site.

The Ada K. Damon was a schooner built in 1875 by H.A. Burnham Boat Building (still in operation today!). By 1909, the owner was Captain A.K. Brewster who had sold his property and used the proceeds, along with all his savings, to invest in the ship.

It a bout of terrible luck, it was during her first voyage for Brewster that the Ada K. Damon was wrecked. She was caught in what locals called the “Great Christmas Snowstorm.” That storm was also responsible for destroying many other ships on Cape Ann.

Since 1909, she has sat on the sands of Crane Beach at the base of Steep Hill and become quite a tourist attraction for visitors.

Sadly, due to the strong surf that resulted from Hurricane Teddy, the Ada K. Damon has been broken up and strewed across the beach. 

Both Dave Robinson, the current state underwater archaeologist for Massachusetts, and his predecessor Vic Mastone will survey the damage.

While I hope that the damage isn’t too extensive and that I will be able to bring future students back to this shipwreck, it does serve as an example about the fragility of archaeological sites.

Diggin’ In: Digital Speaker Series

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Part of the missions of both R.S. Peabody Institute and the Massachusetts Archaeological Society is to engage and connect with all who are interested in archaeology. Since we are unable to do this in person, both institutions are excited to announce our joint digital speaker series: Diggin’ In.

This series show cases live presentations with archaeologists from across the United States who will take questions directly from you!

Different topics will be covered during each 30 min episodes, which start live at 1:30 pm (EST) every other Wednesday and then will be posted to YouTube afterwards.

Sign up through the following emails to get on the ZOOM invitation list:

 rspeabody@andover.edu or info@massarchaeology.org 

While we are excited to welcome all our speakers digitally to our campus and community, we are particularly pleased to have Dr. Meg Conkey and Dr. Kristina Douglass join us.

In addition to her work at University of California, Berkeley and in France, Dr. Conkey is also a current member of the R.S. Peabody’s advisory board.

And while Phillips Academy might be unfamiliar to some of our speakers, that is certainly not the case for Dr. Kristina Douglass who graduated from PA in 2002. It will be fun to welcome her “home” even if it is remotely.

Our complete slate of speakers are as follows

Episode 1

Paleolithic Cave Paintings

Dr. Margaret Conkey

Wednesday June 24, 2020

Episode 2

Strawbery Banke Museum

Dr. Alix Martin

Wednesday July 8, 2020

Episode 3

Community and Resilience 

Dr. Kristina Douglass, ‘02

Wednesday July 22, 2020

Episode 4

LiDAR and Archaeology

Dr. Katharine Johnson

Wednesday August 5, 2020

Episode 5

Archaeobotony

Dr. William Farley

Wednesday August 19, 2020

Episode 6

Archaeogeology

Dr. Suanna Selby Crowley 

Wednesday Sept. 9, 2020

Episode 7

 pXRF Studies of Glass

Grace Bello

Wednesday Sept. 23, 2020

Episode 8

National Parks

Dania Jordon

Wednesday Oct. 7, 2020

Episode 9

Underwater Archaeology

David Robinson

Wednesday Oct. 21, 2020

Episode 10

Bull Brook 

Jennifer Ort

Wednesday Nov. 11, 2020

Digital Resource Spotlight: FPAN

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

The Digital Resource Spotlight series will highlight a variety of heritage-based organizations that offer unique activities that educators and parents may want to explore. We hope that you find our compilations helpful as you navigate this new educational landscape.

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The Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) is a premier educational resource for educators looking to incorporate easy, hands-on activities. Many of their lessons can easily be restructured to fit the current online learning model that many private and public schools are adapting to. They are also clear and straightforward, which makes them a perfect tool for the numerous parents who are finding themselves suddenly acting as their children’s teacher.

Their 130 page guide Beyond Artifacts is a trove of useful lesson plans that could readily be duplicated in a students home, with online guidance from the teacher. Want to study archaeology during lunch? They have a Peanut butter and Jelly Excavation lunch, which can even be followed up by a cookie excavation. YUM!!!!

In addition to the broad archaeology lessons they also offer more topical ones focused on prehistoric, historic, and underwater archaeology.

One of my favorite lessons that they ha is one called Stone Silent. It allows student to collect demographic data from a local cemetery. This is a perfect lesson as it will help everyone to get outside (which we all desperately need) while still practicing social distancing since there are probably not many people wandering cemeteries for fun right now.

FPAN has many other resources to offer, so be sure to check out all of them here.

 

Virtual Heritage Resources

Contributed by Lindsay Randall 

As we all adapt to our new normal, the Peabody has compiled a list of various institutions that offer digital resources, from virtual tours to artifact images. If you are a caregiver at home with children, these can be used to enhance their educational experiences as you work to continue their learning.  

And for those who simply are looking for something to do now that everyone has extra time on their hands (I’m sure no one misses their long commutes into work and sitting in traffic though), experiencing new and exciting things can be a perfect way to combat boredom! 

National Institutions  

  • Museum of the Rockies: In this YouTube video Michael Fox and Dr. Shane Doyle explain why in August the town of Crow Agency becomes the Tipi Capitol of the World. 

 

International Institutions  

  • Canadian Museum of History: This museum offers numerous online exhibits including Inuit Prints from Cape Dorset and Archaeological Mysteries in the Ottawa Area. 
  • British Museum: The largest museum in the United Kingdom offers a digital tour of some of their most impressive collections. 
  • The Louvre: Three virtual tours are offered on Egyptian Antiquities, Remains of the Louvre’s Moat, and the Galerie d’Apollon. 
  • National Museum of Anthropology: One of Mexico’s premiere institutions that houses numerous archaeological artifacts that have been digitized and shared with the public. 
  • Blarney Castle: If you were sad to miss out on gathering with friends and strangers for St. Patrick’s Day, or just have a fondness for old castles, Blarney Castle has incredible 360-degree tours of the interior and grounds of the castle.  

 

…….And for even more options, check out Google’s Arts & Culture. 

 

We also understand that after being cooped up in your house, you might not want to stay indoors, even virtually. So if you find yourself just needing to leave the confines of your house for a bit, our friends at the National Park Service have created a way to virtually escape the walls around you at five different National Parks.  

We’ll be posting other resources that can be used and explored during this unique situation, so check back with us often!  

The Peabody at the SHAs

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

We have had a very busy couple of days this month as the Society for Historical Archaeology held their annual international conference in Boston – and of course the Peabody was in the thick of things!

The Peabody hosted a table at the SHAs Public Archaeology event at the Boston Public Library. Throughout the event there was a steady stream of conference attendees as well as families with children interacting with the fifteen different activity stations.

In addition to the Peabody, the Museum of Science, Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Salem National Historical Park, Indigenous Resource Collaborative, Plimoth Plantation, Archaeological Institute of America, Epoch Preservation, Friends of the Office of State Archaeology, Massachusetts 54th Regiment, Hurstwic, Gray & Pape, Donahue Consulting, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, and Northeast Museum Services Center presented amazing and engaging hands on activities.

However, I do have to give a particular shout out to Mike Adams from the Museum of Science (and former Peabody intern) for his unique activity that had visitors make their own fishweir before testing it in water with robotic fish. It was super cool – and I really want to steal his idea!

charlie fish
Robotic fish zipping through a fishweir 

For our activity, the Peabody brought a Munsell themed game that asked visitors to put different color hues in order. There was even sets that changed from one color to another if someone was feeling very confident in their color gradient identifying skills. And while archaeologists typically only focus on brownish-yellow (or yellow-brownish?) colors, I figured that we’d expand our color palate for the game to include more visually appealing ones.

munsellphoto
Different sets of colors used in the Munsell sorting game.

In addition to the sorting activity, we had a Munsell bookmark making table. Children and adults got to use stamps and hole punchers of different designs to decorate their paint chip bookmarks. This was a big hit with visitors of all ages.

bookmark
Making a paint chip bookmark

I also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Kristina Douglass ’02 who is an archaeologist at Penn State. Her research focuses on human-environment interactions on Madagascar, which I am excited to learn more about. I plan to read this article about radiocarbon dates and the human settlement on Madagascar by Dr. Douglass soon. Our meet up was lovely – but way to short! I look forward to getting to know her better in the future – maybe SHA 2022 in Philadelphia?

Douglass
Dr. Kristina Douglass ’02

In the book room, I had the opportunity to talk with the wonderful people representing Berghahn Books about their work and mine. The generously gave me a copy of their newest book Experiencing Archaeology, which is designed for high school level classes. I cannot wait to dive into the book to explore how the Peabody might utilize their activities!

Book

However, one of the most rewarding moments of the conference was when I got to see Alex Hagler ’16 present their poster, which focused on their work at Strawbery Banke Museum during summer 2018. To learn more about the work Alex conducted at the museum, check out their blog post.

Alex is a senior at Bryn Mawr College and is studying Classical Archaeology. I must say that I am very proud of their achievements and often can be found taking any opportunity to embarrass them by talking about them to anyone and everyone. But that happens when one has known someone since they were in the 6th grade.

Alex
Alex Hagler ’16 presenting at the SHA poster session

Quok Walker

The end of slavery in Massachusetts rests with the court cases of two enslaved people: Mum Bett and Quok Walker. While both individals are discussed in the Salem State University course that we support during the summer, it is the Quok Walker case that we are most excited to revisit next year.

For the 2019 iteration of the class, Dr. Bethany Jay and I changed the focus of the course to look at the “long” nineteenth century through the lens of African-Americans and archaeology. This decision was made so that the class could better support history educators as they navigate new changes to the Massachusetts Frameworks.

Part of the process of examining the nineteenth century and it’s impact on the experiences of African Americans through events like the Civil War and Reconstruction, is to better understand specific events prior to 1800, and Quok Walker’s legal case is one of the most important.

Most people do not realize that Massachusetts was the first colony to create laws legalizing slavery. The economy of Massachusetts and New England was heavily dependent on West Indian slavery; enslaving native people in New England and importing Africans into the colony was common practice in the 1700s as well. It was not until the American Revolution, when enslaved people began using the colonists’ language demanding freedom from England, that the legality of slavery changed in Massachusetts.

In 1781, Quok Walker ran away from Nathaniel Jennison to a farm owned by Seth and John Caldwell. After Jennison and others captured and beat Walker, he used the legal system to prove his freedom. This is because his original owner had promised to free Walker.

Over the course of the three trials, it was declared that Walker was in fact “a Freeman and not the proper Negro slave” and the state Supreme Court also found that the state’s Constitution was not compatible with the institution of slavery. These decisions, while not codifying the abolishment of slavery into state law, made slavery legally untenable in the state. Thus, Massachusetts, the first state to allow slavery, became the first to legally end it.

Cushing
Chief Justice William Cushing who presided over the Walker case as Massachusetts chief justice, before he became a member of the Supreme Court for the newly formed country.  

With the change in focus for the Salem State University class, we added new partners, including Ellen Berkland, archaeologist for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). While working with Berkland regarding the DCR property Camp Meigs – which is the place outside of Boston where the African American Mass 54th regiment was encamped before fighting in the Civil War – she informed Dr. Jay and I that DCR had a property that was related to the life of Walker and proposed that we might bring our 2020 class to dig at the site.

And to say that Dr. Jay and I were excited would be an understatement! Why? Because that is the land that Quok Walker lived on after he gained his freedom. The idea that we might be able to find objects that are connected to him and could help historians and others better understand his life is an exhilarating opportunity!

Walker Barre
Barre, MA has a plaque near the town commons that commemorates Quok Walker.