Fish Hatchery and Regional Archaeologist Jeff Girard Friday, Nov 13 2009 

Regional Archaeologist Jeff Girard will likely speak to our class on the Regional Archaeology program, as well as his fieldwork at the Fish Hatchery (16NA70).  A pdf of his paper provided by Dr. Haley would not load in Blackboard, but I found an untitled paper for background at the CRT website. After hearing about the excavations, we will visit the hatchery.

REGIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY PROGRAM

The Regional Archaeology program now includes four regional archeologists for the state, plus one for Greater New Orleans and another for Poverty Point. The program once had additional station archaeologists. The program is part of the Louisiana Division of Archaeology, CRT (department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism), and a map of the regions is available at their website http://www.crt.state.la.us/archaeology/regarch/regarch.htm.

See also http://www.crt.state.la.us/archaeology

FISH HATCHERY

Resources consulted include the hatchery’s website , Randall Hart’s “Caddo Heritage Day”, prior participation at heritage education events at the Fish Hatchery, and an untitled report by Jeff Girard: Girard, Jeff.  Untitled Report on Fish Hatchery.  http://www.crt.state.la.us/hp/nhl/parish35/scans/35029001.pdf

The location of the fish hatchery is 615 South Drive in Natchitoches, not far from Northwestern State University. It is owned by the US Government and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The phone number is (318) 352-5324. The site is a working fish hatchery that includes an aquarium and limited interpretation of Native Americans that once occupied the site. The hatchery realizes that this is considered a sacred burial ground of  the Natchitoches band of Caddo, therefore, the Fish Hatchery management tries to cultivate a meaningful relationship with the Caddo Nation.

I don’t know what to expect of this visit.

Exploring Ft. Jesup Friday, Nov 13 2009 

Fort Jesup is an important military installation in US History. This site represents a historical moment when settler-colonial Manifest Destiny morphed into US Imperialism vis-a-vis other modern nation-states. The fort was built in 1822, not coincidentally following the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The fort was instrumental in the founding of the Republic of Texas and covert operations for the War of Texas Independence. The fort set the stage for the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), which in Mexico is known as the Intervención Estadounidense, before being decommissioned.

The resource, including the interpretive center, seems under-utilized. Upon entering the visitors center, the artifacts and reproduction pieces failed to convey a cohesive story. However, my first impressions were still positive.
Luckily, the interpretive ranger did an adequate job of communicating key facts of the site before releasing us to visit our “off-site” archeology (this area is privately owned, but a historically important part of the fort).

The only other visitors during our trip pulled up as we were leaving. They were a retired couple enjoying a Friday drive. The man was doing genealogy on a forefather who was once stationed at Ft. Jesup.

I recommend:

1.)Interpretive Center: Create an interpretive plan to integrate available artifacts with existing resources, and to identify gaps in material culture that would help tell the story of the fort.

2.) The state to re-establish and fund the period costume workshop.

3.) That Dr. Haley consider integrating the public into some facet of archeology done in the area.

I enjoyed my visit and look forward to spending more time there.

Poverty Point Friday, Nov 6 2009 

Poverty Point was everything I had hoped for: a large, publicly owned site, good interpretation, a visitors’ center, and a dormitory that housed the Heritage Resources students on our overnight trip.  The Poverty Point Earthworks have been noted since the 1870s, but aerial photography revealed a more complex system excavated since the 1950s. The site’s purpose is to preserve and interpret the earthworks. The earthworks are a National Register listed State Park, National Historic Landmark, and is a National Monument.

Poverty point has been the location for a number of field schools for Tulane University, University of Louisiana- Lafayette (ULL), and Washington University in St. Louis, among others. The central hall of the dormitory area includes photographic testament of many of those field schools.

More recently, Mississippi State (Starkville) and University of Louisiana- Monroe have employed “high tech” methods  including magnetic graditometry and began limited excavation of the central plaza earlier this year.

Since our group constituted the visitors present early on Halloween morning, I chatted with the park rangers about their knowledge of the site and visitors’ usual questions. Interpretive rangers like to explain the Poverty Point culture and differentiate it from the later Coles Creek culture of Sarah’s mound.

Erosion is a major concern for preserving the site, and site workers are in a constant battle to reduce erosion.

The only recommendations I have are for the State of Louisiana to provide a larger staff to care for the site, and to implement credit/debit card machines in the gift shop.

LaSalle Parish: White Sulphur Springs and Jena Band of Choctaw Friday, Nov 6 2009 

The second and third stops on the way to Poverty Point were two locations where MAHR students are doing thesis research in LaSalle Parish. Neither site had tourists or other visitors while we were present.

White Sulphur Springs

White Sulphur Springs has seen better days.

White Sulphur Springs

Courtney Cloy provided visitors with on-site interpretation and distributed a hand-out which included a map of the area, circa 1900. The visit entailed looking at what once was a more active spring and lots of walking through the woods in the rain.

Using the map as a reference, Mr. Cloy performed a pedestrian survey of the area which revealed surface evidence of the Bethards Hotel. Mr. Cloy will be mapping the area and preparing an amendment to previous National Register documentation as part of his thesis project.

The location is an unassuming roadside gazebo and associated Archaeology site on private property. Mr. Cloy’s excitement regarding the subject matter was evident. However, I think he tended to “over-interpret” the site, given current knowledge of the site. Much more investigation is needed to do interpretation. Mr. Cloy is a native of LaSalle Parish, which explains his fascination with this place. White Sulphur Springs was once an important tourist destination in LaSalle Parish. Most of the sprawling development, which included numerous hotels and stores, and may have included a casino and brothel, has been lost to history. Mr. Cloy aims at recovering it.

Marie Richards explains traditional and elected leadershipJena Band of Choctaw

Our cohort visited the Jena Band of Choctaw Administration Office where we met Marie Richards (MAHR 2010). Ms. Richards gave the class an extemporaneous overview of her thesis work and some introduction to the tribe and its history, including a list of traditional and elected leaders. The visit would have been improved with a member of the tribal council or a tribal crafts-person. The visit might have also been improved with a brochure or hand-out on the history of the band, tribal activities, or social services (especially the health center). I found the subject matter, a band of American Indians with a living culture, much more engaging than White Sulphur Springs, but I feel as though the site and topic were “under-interpreted” to our class.

Military Maneuvers Museum Friday, Nov 6 2009 

The Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum, located at Camp Beauregard, shattered many of my preconceived notions. Knowing that the museum is run by the Louisiana National Guard, I assumed it to be overflowing with patriotic propaganda and devoid of scholarly rigor or critical interpretation. The museum was undoubtedly patriotic, but was a real surprise. The museum, located in a two-storied wooden barracks, is one of the best small museums that I have visited.

Captain Richard Morgan provided excellent interpretation of the museum in general and the Louisiana war maneuvers specifically. It was a real pleasure to meet him. He explained most of the museum in detail then showed us the workshop and curation area. CPT Morgan will be shipping off for Iraq soon.Since the high level interpretation was dependent on his narrative I am worried about the future of the museum.

The emphasis of the museum was on great military leaders and military tactics employed during World War II. There was a noteworthy “home front” section, but the emphasis there was on material culture like ration books, patriotic ribbons, etc. It would have been good to have a video or audio kiosk with oral history and interviews of civilians that remember the maneuvers. But overall, the local history was conveyed in a top-notch fashion.

My biggest concern is the larger, overarching, geopolitical interpretation of the museum. Genocide is not a subject matter that most people feel comfortably conversant in. The museum did a fairly good “textbook” job conveying Nazi atrocities. CPT Morgan’s interpretation and the written information focused exclusively on the Shoa (Holocaust),  the death of some six million European Jews.  The visual images included pictures and diagrams of patches worn in concentration camps by homosexuals, Romani, Slavs, people with disabilities, etc. I reminded those in attendance that Hitler and his war machine killed between 11 and 17 million civilians and prisoners of war, and that communists were the first targeted by the Nazis. Despite repeated questioning by Mr. Evans and myself, CPT Morgan maintained justification for the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, noting that fire bombings killed more and that a conventional invasion of Kyūshū alone could have mounted 200,000 casualties, compared to the 50,000-70,000 of the atomic bombs. Mr. Evans noted that Long term radiation deaths brought the total number up (to at least 200,000). When another classmate noted the scientific breakthroughs of German scientists brought to the United States after the war, the Captain made a remark regarding  that could easily be misinterpreted.

Soldiers execute orders. It’s the politicians who create foreign policy. In an ostensibly democratic country, it is the responsibility of all of us to demand a just foreign policy, and to question whether, and when war is beneficial to the broad populace. To that end I offer a “patriotic” inscription from the (“new,” c. 1862) Massachusetts statehouse, and a poem from an early supporter of Hitler, Pastor Martin Niemöller.

“CommonWealth Forever, Empire Never”

“First they came”- Martin Niemöller

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The museum also has an associated library. The library has an extensive Native American collection. Richard H. Holloway is the Archivist and Library Director. The library is new and has no publicity or promotional materials.

The Museum and the library are both interesting resources. Both are woefully under-utilized by the public. Perhaps this is primarily a function of their location (on a military facility), but promoting the sites may bring additional visitors.

Civil War era flag and clothing

Civil War era flag and clothing

Captain Moran

Captain Morgan

Insignia

Insignia