Archeological Stewardship and Science in the National Park Service

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

In fulfilling its near century-old mission, the National Park Service (NPS) preserves, protects, and interprets archeological sites of breathtaking diversity throughout the United States. These range in scale and type from Paleo-Indian quarries to historic plantations and homesteads to submerged aircraft. NPS archeological programs are implementing education and civic engagement projects for diverse audiences across the country. At the same time, they are responding to new fiscal realities and significant challenges including climate change, increased looting and vandalism of sites, and energy development. This session demonstrates the depth and diversity of recent NPS archeological practice by presenting a sample of park-based recent research, outreach and planning by the agency's archeologists.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-13 of 13)

  • Documents (13)

  • Archaeology of the Nez Perce War of 1877 in Yellowstone National Park, WY. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Staffan Peterson. Daniel Eakin.

    The Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail was designated by Congress under the National Trails System Act in 1986 to commemorate the 1877 flight of the non-treaty Nez Perce from their homelands in present day Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, across Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, including 85 miles within Yellowstone National Park. In 2008, Yellowstone began archaeological investigations of the trail corridor. This six-year project includes consultation with the Confederated Tribes of the...

  • Challenges and opportunities of archeology in urban parks: An example from the Arch (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Timothy Schilling.

    Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is an anomaly in the National Park Service. The park was designated in 1935 as the first national historic site, memorializing America’s westward expansion, yet it is best known for the Gateway Arch, a modernist monument that towers over the city. Archaeological information from the St. Louis riverfront is sparse, but the park is located in an area that was densely settled from prehistory to the beginning of the twentieth century. In the late 1930s, NPS...

  • Developing New Interpretations from Old Data at Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Guebard.

    This paper addresses recent archaeological work at the Castle A site (AZ 0:5:95 [ASM]), located within the Montezuma Castle National Monument boundary in Camp Verde, Arizona.Initially excavated and stabilized in 1934 by National Park Service archaeologists Martin Jackson and Sallie Pierce, the project is a historically significant event in the development of Verde Valley archaeology.Based on Jackson and Pierce’s interpretation of stratigraphic evidence, they believed a catastrophic fire...

  • The Distinctive Archaeological Landscape of the El Malpais National Monument Lava Flows (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Richard Greene. Steve Baumann.

    El Malpais National Monument, located at the edge of the Colorado Plateau near the southern boundary of the San Juan Basin, was established to protect the rich diversity of volcanic geologic features that produced one of the longest sequences of volcanic activity in the United States – from about 700,000 to 3,000 years ago. Known collectively as the Grants Lava Flow, there are over nine lava flows each creating a new land surface with lava-influenced environmental conditions. The interaction...

  • The Intersection at Biscayne National Park of Looting as a Traditional Form of Recreation, Submerged Cultural Resources, and Management Practice (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Morgan. Dave Conlin. Charles Lawson.

    Protecting archeological sites from looting is one of the constant challenges facing the 66 park units in the Southeast Region of the U.S. National Park Service. One park in particular--Biscayne National Park--eclipses the others in terms of the quantity and destructiveness of looting it suffers. Research since 2010 at the HMS Fowey, English China, Black, Pillar Dollar, Brick, Long Reef Cannon, and other shipwrecks illustrates the severity of the problem. The submerged nature of the resources is...

  • Losing Ground but Gaining Data: Erosion and Archeology in Badlands Parks (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erin Dempsey.

    In 2013, the Midwest Archeological Center initiated a five-year project to study the impacts of erosion on archeological sites in Great Plains parks, specifically those parks with badlands geography. The project is designed to provide information on erosion rates in a variety of environmental contexts, as well as erosion’s effect on different features and artifact types. In the future, these data will be used to predict which sites or potential site locations may be most vulnerable to climate...

  • Mystery in Grapevine Canyon: Gender and Ethnicity in a Historic Period Site. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Wanda Raschkow.

    The Grapevine Archeological District in Death Valley National Park contains evidence of prehistoric and ethnohistoric occupation. The district also overlaps with the Death Valley Scotty Historic District. A road realignment project in 2014 led to the discovery of a historic period site that appeared to be a mining camp with features and artifacts typically associated with tasks performed by men. Surface features and artifacts included a forge and hand-forged axes; a mining claim cairn marked the...

  • Overview of Archaeological Research in the NPS Alaska Region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Pederson Weinberger.

    Human occupation of the 54 million acres of land managed by the National Park Service (NPS) has spanned millennia from early use of the ice-free corridors, later migrations and adaptation of tool kits to meet changing needs, and contact with explorers, fur traders, and others from distant lands. Research conducted each year along coasts, in and around mountainous terrain, small towns, and places in between aids efforts to inventory park land for archaeological resources, understand past human...

  • Preservation Practice at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site - Using New Planning Frameworks to Identify and Address Impacts to an Archeological Landscape. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jay Sturdevant. Brenda Todd. Wendy Ross. Craig Hansen.

    Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site was set aside to preserve, research, and interpret the archeological and cultural landscapes of the Hidatsa-Mandan villages at the confluence of the Knife and Missouri Rivers. Both park enabling legislation and NPS policy direct park staff to preserve archeological resources unimpaired for future generations. However, defining what preservation means and how it is put into practice presents a challenge for park managers as they attempt to...

  • The Promise and Pitfalls of Geophysical Survey at Valley Forge NHP (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth Rupp.

    The use of geophysical survey techniques to identify potential archeological deposits has a long history at Valley Forge NHP (VFNHP). As early as 1974, while it was still a state park, Dr. Bruce Bevan conducted magnetometer and GPR surveys of some of the brigade areas. Since 2011, archeologists at VFNHP have undertaken a series of geophysical surveys aimed at identifying possible encampment related features. The surveys produced a series of promising anomalies, many of which have been tested...

  • Recent Archaeological Studies in National Parks of the Northeast Region (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Kendrick.

    The Northeast Region of the NPS extends from Saint Croix Island on the Maine-New Brunswick border to Booker T. Washington National Monument in Virginia, and from Cape Cod National Seashore to New River Gorge in West Virginia. The national parks of this region contain the archaeological signatures of presidents, poets, war, human rights struggles, maritime history, industrial history, and thousands of years of American Indian heritage. This paper discusses recent archaeological studies in the...

  • Searching for King Opessa's Shawnee Town in the Mountains of Maryland (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Stephen Potter. John Bedell.

    In 1688, a band of Shawnee left Fort St. Louis on the Illinois River and headed east. Eventually, some of them settled at King Opessa's Town on the upper Potomac River, circa 1722, in the vicinity of Oldtown, Maryland. In 1975, a National Retister Nomination was prepared identifying a 122 x 213 m surface scatter of prehistoric artifacts as the site of King Opessa's Town, which also corresponds to the location of "Shawno Indian Fields Deserted" on Benjamin Winslow's 1736 map. Subsequent test...

  • Where the Buffalo Still Roam: Archeology of a Buffalo Jump and Prehistoric Village Site at Wind Cave National Park (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anne Vawser. Tim Schilling. Ashley Barnett. Allison Young. Michael Schumacher.

    In 2011 Wind Cave National Park acquired new lands that include an important prehistoric site where American Indians once made their homes and practiced communal hunting. Two seasons of work at the site have resulted in the discovery of drive lines, rock cairns, processing areas, stone circles, ceremonial features and much more. What has been found at the site is equally as important as the way the work has been conducted, including the involvement of tribal monitors and volunteers, tribal...