Images of Nez Perce National Historical Park- Big Hole National Battlefield (left) and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (right) during the summer of 2012.
Today is like any other day for me these past few weeks: trying to stay cool during the extremely hot summer days while writing follow-up reports and future articles. Although I recently completed my doctoral research on four archaeological sites in Montana, I have a lifetime of exciting explorations on the varied ways people of the past, and present, interpret and commemorate history.
Archaeology is not just about surveying, excavating, cataloging, and preserving artifacts and features, but also exploring profound questions about humanity. To quote Carl Sagan, “We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”
We humans like narratives. Archaeology is a type of story that uses tangible objects and landscapes to tell a tale. Archaeology is a discipline rooted in the sciences and humanities. Archaeologists must balance both fields of inquiry to interpret their discoveries with reliability and validity.
My discoveries concern the varied ways contemporary visitors and personnel of Bear Paw, Big Hole, Little Bighorn, and Rosebud battlefields use these landscapes for their own place-based cultural heritages and historical understandings. Overall, these places are still socially relevant and significant after nearly fourteen decades since the battles. And, whether these battlefields are of cultural, geographical, historical, personal, military, national, spiritual, and/or other heritage value for visitors and personnel, archaeological data, historical research, and oral traditions continue to contribute to these individuals’ values and understandings of the battles. These contributions lead to not only more answers, but also more questions as to how and why humans have used cultural landscapes to maintain or change their heritages. The relationship between a space and people’s beliefs and interactions within that environment is intriguingly complicated.
Well, back to writing while enduring the hot temperatures!
Images of Rosebud Battlefield State Park (left) and Nez Perce National Historical Park- Bear Paw Battlefield (right) during the summer of 2012.