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HRPS: Community Engagement and Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School
Sarah E. Cowie, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Reno
The Stewart Indian School in Carson City, Nevada, established in 1890 as a federally mandated residential school, attempted to remove Native children from approximately 200 tribal communities and assimilate them into mainstream society. A collaborative archaeology project at the school connects two seemingly disparate aspects of removal. First, archaeology, historical documents and oral histories illuminate the ramifications of children’s forced removal from their families and traditional homelands for mandatory school attendance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with repercussions lasting into present day. Second, several tribal members who participated in the archaeology project brought to light the far-reaching consequences of removing artifacts from the site, a practice that threatens to erase both their ancestors and their descendants from the landscape. Engaging young people and elders from several tribes enriched the interpretations and preservation efforts at this site, and demonstrated the knowledge and resilience of communities whose voices should be influential in archaeological research.
Sarah Cowie specializes in historical-period archaeology of the American West. She recently completed the book “Collaborative Archaeology at Stewart Indian School.” She earned her B.A. in Archaeology from Mount Holyoke College, her M.S. in Industrial Archaeology from Michigan Technological University, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from University of Arizona. Prior to teaching, she worked in cultural resource management for several years throughout the United States