This week, I had the great pleasure of visiting Ohio State for the first time. (To all those Michigan fans, no, I am not speaking sarcastically.) I got to meet a very friendly community of researchers engaged in inspiring and dynamic projects at both the Byrd Center and the Anthropology department. I also shared my dissertation research at both venues and got great feedback from many generous attendees. The best part about sharing your research with new people is getting questions that you may never have considered. This was definitely the case for me this week, and the questions and ideas that were shared with me has led me to think about my next steps in research and service a little differently.
This summer, we recovered three copper artifacts from the Klein Site, including a beautiful copper awl recovered in situ by the meticulous Emma Creamer. Copper is associated with the Athabascan transition and I was very excited to have evidence of copper use at the Klein Site. When we returned to Fairbanks for supplies and showers every weekend, I would delight at letting locals know about our copper artifacts and show off photos. Almost all had the same response: people used to make and use copper tools here? Where did it come from? How old is it?
As an Alaskan myself, I can relate to these questions. When we learn about Alaska's history, it's often divided into the peopling of Beringia and the New World, and the history of European colonization and mining, with little attention given to the people in Alaska between these two periods.
This summer, I returned to Alaska for my last season of field research on late Holocene Athabascan behavior at the Klein Site (for now!). I was joined by five outstanding research assistants from the University of Michigan, Tubingen University, and Appalachia State University who helped to uncover some amazing features and artifacts related to Athabascan subsistence and mobility.
Bree is an Alaskan Anthropologist pursuing her PhD at the University of Michigan.