Community invited to picnic with USU anthropologists, archaeologists

Utah State University archaeologists, in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management Pocatello Field Office, host a public outreach event July 16 in Soda Springs, Idaho. “Picnic with Archaeologists” will be held 6:30-9 p.m. at Corrigan Park in Soda Springs. Members of the public are invited to attend and chat with the archaeologists about the USU-led excavation findings in southeastern Idaho during summer 2009. The picnic is a potluck, and everyone is invited to bring their family and their favorite picnic-style dish.”This is going to be a great event,” said USU archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado. “We encourage anyone and everyone who hears about the picnic to come and to bring their kids. A team of student volunteers from the USU Museum of Anthropology will bring fun activities with all kinds of cool things to look at and touch. There will be games to play and activities that both parents and kids of all ages can participate in. We may even bring a spear thrower and spears with padded tips so kids and grown-ups can see how they’d have done as an ancient hunter in Idaho. We promise lots of fun for everyone in the family.”Pitblado said she loves hosting public events to show what her teams find.This summer, she, along with her team of archaeologists from Utah State University, is doing test excavations to learn more about the southeastern Idaho archaeological record. Pitblado has taught archaeology at USU for seven years, and she has worked in the field on very ancient sites for more than 15 years. Pitblado has done field work all over the western United States, but most of her research in the past decade has been conducted in the high mountains of southwestern Colorado. She is excited, however, to shift her focus closer to home, and she is doubly excited that southeastern Idaho and northern Utah offer such potentially rich archaeological rewards as she makes that shift, she said.During summer 2009, archaeology field school students come not only from USU but from colleges and universities across the country. The team is studying the very earliest residents of southeastern Idaho. Because the area has not been the subject of much previous archaeological research, virtually nothing is yet known about when the first people lived here (although it was certainly over 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age). Pitblado and the group from USU hope to change this over the course of many years of research.”As archaeologists, it is very important to learn how Native Americans made a living in this resource-rich area where the Great Basin, Plains, Columbia Plateau and Rocky Mountains come together,” said Pitblado.In addition to offering field schools, USU is implementing a new master’s degree program in archaeology, and its first class of graduate students joins the program in fall 2009. Pitblado’s team is working closely with local communities during all phases of research. She hopes the July 16 picnic in Soda Springs will be the beginning of a long, close and very positive relationship.

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