SUU’s Project Archaeology Funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities

Published: July 20, 2021 | Author: Southern Utah University | Read Time: 3 minutes

Project Archaeology at SUUOf the projects funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture, Southern Utah University Project Archaeology’s “Voices of the Ancients” was the only program held in person this year. This program supports institutes for K-12 educators across the nation to enhance and strengthen humanities teaching at the K-12 level.

“This program was a success in large part due to the immense support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, SUU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and our meaningful collaborations with tribal elders, K-12 educators, and state, federal, and collegiate colleagues,” said Samantha Kirkley, Utah coordinator for Project Archaeology. “With so much uncertainty while planning last fall, I'm so glad that we were able to have this experience in person. There is no way to connect to people (past and present) and the land in the same way without being physically present. The earth beneath your feet, the wind on your face, the petroglyphs on the rocks all have a voice. We must be present to receive their message for us.

Voices of the Ancients employs a place-based approach and offers educators a unique and compelling opportunity to deepen and expand their knowledge of indigenous histories, culture, and traditions. Voices of the Ancients is a collaboration between Samantha Kirkley, Utah coordinator for Project Archaeology, and Jeanne Moe, EdD, founder and chair of the Institute for Heritage Education (IHE). Nearly three-hundred applicants vied for the chance to attend one of two week-long workshops held this summer at SUU.

The attending teachers studied the ancient inhabitants of the Great Basin region (Fremont), engaged in meaningful dialog with their living descendants, and discovered the importance of place-based learning strategies as part of their professional development goals. Participants visited reconstructed Fremont shelters at Fremont Indian and Frontier Homestead State Parks, a real archaeological site near Paragonah and spectacular rock art at Parowan Gap.

Virgil Johnson, SUU alumniNative Elders Eleanor Tom, Virgil Johnson, Rick and Rena Pikyavit, and Travis Parashonts, provided a rare glimpse into the oral history passed from generation to generation and showed how similar themes can be adapted to today’s students. Participants experienced and received high-quality, inquiry-based curricular materials for use in their classrooms.

“It was an honor to work so closely with Goshute elder and SUU alumni, Virgil Johnson, and teachers from across the United States,” said Kirkley. “We all took the Hero's journey and Virgil was our cultural guide every step of the way. Participants from both sessions claimed to have had life-changing experiences. One teacher from New York said, ‘I came here with my head, but I am leaving with my heart.’”

Project Archaeology, a national stewardship education program, was launched in 1990 by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM). As a joint program of the BLM and Montana State University, the program operates in nearly 40 states. Project Archaeology is a network of archaeologists, indigenous community members, formal and informal educators, historic preservationists, museums, and many others who work together to deliver classroom-tested educational materials and professional development to educators.

The Institute for Heritage Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people understand and appreciate their own cultural heritage and the cultural heritage of others. IHE’s sole mission is to support heritage education by assisting existing organizations and programs with delivering high-quality materials and professional development to heritage educators.

Tags: College of Humanities and Social Sciences Project Archaeology

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