Diggin’ It

A few years ago human remains were found in the rubble piles leftover from a housing construction project in Flint, Michigan. It was eventually determined that the remains were of the Native American variety, specifically, Anishinabek, and that an ancient (800-1200 A.D.) Native American burial site had been unintentionally disturbed by heavy construction equipment, effectively excavating a historical site that no one knew existed.

Uh-oh.

However, cool heads prevailed and with the combined efforts of the construction company, the Genesee County Land Bank, the Ziibiwing Center of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan and Tribal Council, and the Anthropology Dept. of the University of Michigan-Flint, plans were formulated to rescue the bones and other funerary objects from the rubble piles and repatriate them in the same area, preserving the burial ground and adhering to the rules of NAGPRA.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribe has been a committed sponsor of this project and as far as I can determine, this is one of the very few times, if not the only time, a NA tribe has assumed the sponsorship of a NA anthropological dig and been actively involved through their own museum research department.  If my determination is wrong, please correct me and relieve me of my ignorance!

On May 17th will begin the final season of this recovery project and the last opportunity to help. Once again they are asking for volunteers to help sift through the rubble piles to recover the skeletal remains and accompanying funerary objects to be reburied with dignity and honor at the end of the season.

If you have ever wanted to take part in an actual anthropological recovery project, here’s your chance!

Our work begins on Tuesday May 17th and we will work Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am.-4 pm. (time on flyer will be corrected) for the next 8-10 weeks.  All equipment is provided.  Dress to get dirty!  Wear close-toed shoes!  Bring lunch and drinks.  Lots of safe parking.  Map quest directions to 519 Stone Street, Flint, MI 48503.  On your first work day, an orientation will be provided – no experience needed (min. age 14 yrs.)  You will have the opportunity to work with experienced Tribal members and UM-Flint archaeology students.

Being a bona fide anthropologist is not required; amateurs welcome. Just for a day or for however long you wish. This is a great opportunity for those living in Mid-Michigan, but even if you live elsewhere…even in another state…it would be a fantastic summer vaycay for those looking for something different to do and you can even have your kids aged 14 & up join in the dig as well.

(Original e-mails sent to me giving more information at the end of this post.)

The dig ends in mid-July.

This project holds a significant interest for me because I was born and raised in and around the city of Flint. I was never much of a city girl though, and was happy as a pig in slop to get outta there as soon as possible. While I was trapped in urbania, nearly all of the local history I was taught related to the birth of General Motors and the men who birthed it, which kind of overshadowed everything else.  Very little mention was ever made of the indigenous that were there in earlier times.  Snippets of  “the other” history are coming to light now, including a battle on the banks of the Flint River when the Ojibwe pushed the Sauk to the south and west and it is a hope of mine that the oral histories related by the tribes will at last be granted the same importance as the Eurocentric written accounts which are so widely accepted as the only truth worth knowing. One-sided stories are so…one-sidedly boring.

So, this is exciting for me.  Maybe slightly geeky, but….exciting, yes.

Links…

Stone Street Project youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7b_ynOxQ-Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LM5l-2-BnI4&feature=related

NA map Michigan

http://www.native-languages.org/michigan.jpg

E-mails…

1.

Greetings All,

You are on my contacts list from previous season as expressing interest in the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery and Reburial Project in Flint, Michigan.  Many of you have been valued volunteers, others have expressed interest but haven’t had the opportunity to join us yet – either way, please be aware that the final season the project will begin shortly and I hope that, if you are interested in archaeology, Native American history and contemporary Native American culture and politics, you will consider volunteering some time and energy to our work.

This project involves the recovery of ancestral human remains and associated funerary artifacts that date to approximately A.D. 800-1200.  The burials were disturbed by construction activities and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe has sponsored this project to screen piles of backdirt to recover the remains.  At the end of the season, the ancestors will be returned to the earth in a reburial ceremony; all volunteers will be invited to participate in this sacred event.

Please see below a welcoming message from Shannon Martin, Director of the Ziibiwing Center of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan with an invitation to the upcoming opening ceremony on Saturday, May 14th – All are welcome to attend.  Our work begins on Tuesday May 17th and we will work Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am.-4 pm. (time on flyer will be corrected) for the next 8-10 weeks.  All equipment is provided.  Dress to get dirty!  Wear close-toed shoes!  Bring lunch and drinks.  Lots of safe parking.  Map quest directions to 519 Stone Street, Flint, MI 48503.  On your first work day, an orientation will be provided – no experience needed (min. age 14 yrs.)  You will have the opportunity to work with experienced Tribal members and UM-Flint archaeology students.  Don’t hesitate to pass this on to any friends, family, neighbors in the community you think might be interested in participating.  Post it in your institutions, announce in your meetings, use any means to get the word out.  It’s a unique and rewarding experience and I look forward to seeing you at Stone Street.

Directions and further information is provided on the flyer –see attached.  I apologize for multiple mailings.

Best regards,

Bev

2.

From: Shannon Martin [mailto:SMartin@sagchip.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2011 9:56 AM
To: Smith, Beverley; ZiibiwingStaff
Subject: Stone Street Ancestral Recovery & Reburial Project ~ Opens May 17

Boozhoo,

We Need Your Help! for the final season of the Stone Street Ancestral Recovery & Reburial Project in Flint, Michigan. This will be the 3rd (and final) summer that the Ziibiwing Center has coordinated the ancestral recovery and reburial efforts at the site. Megwetch for your help and dedication during the previous two summers ~ you honor the ancestors.

Principal Investigator, Dr. Beverley Smith from the University of Michigan – Flint, will once again oversee the site work this summer.

Please join us at the:

Opening & Blessing Ceremony

Saturday, May 14 at 11am

Dress for the weather

If you have any questions, please call the Ziibiwing Center at (989) 775-4750.

Me’ewe.

Shannon Martin, Director

Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan

6650 E. Broadway

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan  48858

Office: (989) 775-4761

Mobile: (989) 330-3719

Toll Free: 1-800-225-8172  Ext. 1-54761

Fax: (989) 775-4770

www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing

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2 thoughts on “Diggin’ It

  1. How cool is that?? I would love to go but won’t be able to. But I’ll gladly share the word with my family and friends because a lot of them would find this really interesting work. Thanks for posting this!

    1. ~flowerchild~

      Migwetch for passing the info along, Lis.

      I would also like to participate this summer but it’s just not in the cards. Too many irons in the fire already, not to mention not enough coins in the purse for traveling. 🙂

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