Raising awareness for the importance of archaeology and paying homage to Wyoming’s rich cultural heritage stretching back at least 13,000 years, Governor Matt Mead will proclaim September as Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month (WAAM) at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 28th at the Kendrick Gallery in Cheyenne.
September’s WAAM celebration will include the 20th Annual George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month sponsored lecture which will take place on September 20th at 4:00 p.m. in the University of Wyoming Ag Auditorium. Dr. Stuart Fiedel, Senior Archaeologist at Louis Berger Group, will present this year’s lecture titled, Native American Origins: Reconciling the Evidence of Ancient Genomes and Archaeology.
Recent analyses of ancient human DNA have transformed our understanding of Native Americans’ origins. Roughly 1/3 of the DNA of ‘Ancestral Paleoindians’ reflects the admixture (ca. 15-20,000 years ago), of East Asians with a now-vanished Siberian population, known as ‘Ancient North Eurasians.’ Based on this evidence, all living Native Americans are direct descendants of the Paleoindians who made Clovis tools extending from Montana, where the Anzick infant was buried ca. 12,800 years ago, to Tierra del Fuego.
Any earlier peoples, such as the hypothesized ‘seaweed eaters’ of Monte Verde, the ‘rock-bashers’ of Pedra Furada, or the Cerutti ‘mastodon bone-smashers,’ must have been replaced or genetically swamped by Clovis descendants, if they ever existed at all. This genomic evidence allows us to ask; did these ancestral populations move south via the Pacific coast or along the interior ice-free corridor? Was there a long period of isolation in the far north? And, why the prevalence of bifaces, together with the absence of microblades, in the Clovis tool kit?
The Archaeology Fair, which has grown in popularity, will be held at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site in Laramie on September 8th, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. “The Fair aims to educate the public about Wyoming’s historic and prehistoric past and raise awareness about issues related to the preservation and stewardship of the state’s archaeological resources while providing a fun and educational experience,” said Greg Pierce, State Archaeologist.
Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to meet local archaeologists, ask questions, and get “hands-on” with Atlatl throwing, pottery making, flint knapping and more. The fair will feature Michael “Badhand” Terry, Plains Indian Historian/Lecturer/Author; the Wind River Dancers who will perform a variety of American Indian dance styles; Willie LeClair, Native American storyteller; and David Osmundsen demonstrating traditional 19th century blacksmithing. The event is free and open to the public.
The centerpiece of WAAM is a poster produced every year. This year’s poster highlights research being conducted on ice patch archaeology in Wyoming. The poster is distributed statewide, nationally, and internationally to more than 5,000 people and organizations to commemorate Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month.
The poster is available free of charge, and may be picked up at the State Historic Preservation Office, Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne, or in Laramie in the Anthropology Building located at 12th and Lewis, Room 312.
The posters are also available via mail with a $12 charge to cover mailing costs. Limit one poster per person. Send your request along with a check or money order payable to “Wyoming Archaeology Month” and your name and mailing address to:
Short-sleeved shirts are available at a cost of $16. Shirts in sizes 2XL are available for an additional $1.50. Long-sleeved shirts are available for $25. Add $1.50 for size 2XL. Caps are available for $16. Proceeds benefit WAAM activities.