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By - Randy Dickson

Public Archaeology at Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Public Archaeology at Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
By Randy Dickson, Midwest Archaeological Consultants, LLC.

Crossroads at Big Creek is an educational preserve located on the east side of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin containing three separate properties: Big Creek Preserve, Ida Bay Preserve and The Cove Preserve.  The three preserves combine to occupy over 200-acres of upland meadow, forest and riparian wetland.  Crossroads at Big Creek started as a vision of members of the Sturgeon Bay Education Foundation in 1992 to acquire a forested preserve for teaching and serving the community.  The emphasis of Crossroads at Big Creek concerns science, history and the environment though experience-based activities and research efforts.  One of the missions of Crossroads at Big Creek is to pass on the history of the Door Peninsula to future generations.

From 2013 to 2018 Midwest archaeological Consultants, LLC has collaborated with Crossroads at Big Creek to find archaeological sites on the Crossroads at Big Creek property.  After three Woodland period sites were discovered with the assistance of T.J. Walker Middle School, Randy Dickson of Midwest Archaeological Consultants and Coggin Heeringa of Crossroads at Big Creek developed teaching plans to instruct elementary and middle school students, learning in retirement individuals and teachers from northeast Wisconsin in archaeology.  Midwest Archaeological Consultants, LLC gathered very experienced archaeologists from around Wisconsin to instruct students and teachers.  In 2017, these archaeologists instructed over 350 elementary school and middle school students from northeast Wisconsin including five different school districts.  These students and their teachers became involved in hands-on participation in archaeology on Middle Woodland and Late Woodland period sites 47DR-35 and 47DR-428.  The instruction involved the basics of archaeological survey, archaeological site formation processes, flintknapping, feature floatation with light and heavy fraction capture, the principles of scientific recording, washing and cataloging artifacts and more.  Teaching plans for the Spring of 2018 will include Native American house construction, landscape usage, travois construction and atlatl/spear throwing.

Ultimately, the purpose of teaching archaeology at Crossroads at Big Creek is to create an enthusiastic and dynamic educational environment for public school children, teachers and learning in retirement individuals and introduce them to the discipline of archaeology with a hands-on approach both in the field and in the laboratory.  This interactive archaeological endeavor includes the interpretation of prehistoric cultural lifeways through spatial and temporal horizons involving artifacts and cultural features within sites, 47DR-35 and 47DR-428.  Funding has been very limited for teaching students, teachers and learning in retirement individuals.  Currently, Crossroads at Big Creek and Midwest Archaeological Consultants needs to catalog, analyze, submit artifacts for analysis and arrange for curation but currently has no funding.

Photograph 1. An archaeologist instructs students from Sevastopol Middle School on how to trowel the floor of a test unit on 47DR-428.
Photograph 2. An expert flintknapper William Kemps instructs students from Sevastopol Middle School on stone tools and the changing size and shape of projectile points through time.
Photograph 4. Students from T.J. Walker Middle School participate in washing artifacts and categorizing them with close instruction by archaeologists.

 

Photograph 5. An archaeologist instructs students from T. J. Walker Middle School on how to conduct a pedestrian survey and flag artifacts.
Photograph 6. Middle school teacher and archaeologist Cassandra Tobin challenges students on how to best utilize Crossroads at Big Creek limited research funds to analyze artifacts recovered from 47DR-35 and 47DR-428.
Photograph 7. A T.J. Walker student shows off a broken projectile point that he recovered in a screen on 47DR-428.
Photograph 8. Sixth grade students from T.J. Walker Middle School work on a test unit while an archaeologist instructs a student how to label an artifact bag.
Photograph 9. An archaeologist shows students from T. J. Walker Middle School how to properly conduct a shovel test. Shovel testing is a labor intensive means by which archaeologists find archaeological sites on the landscape.

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