The West Virginia University Native American Studies Program, Moundsville’s Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Humanities Council have partnered to create a unique summer opportunity for preservation-minded individuals.
Volunteers are sought to join a team from June 2-9 at the collections management facility at the Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex, where they’ll contribute to the state’s preservation and educational goals while learning about the rich ancient history and culture of the region.
West Virginia residents aged 18 or older who are seeking a meaningful learning experience are welcome to participate in this special endeavor. Volunteer applications will be processed on a first-come/first-served basis.
Participants will receive free lodging in Moundsville and free transportation between Morgantown and Moundsville on June 2 and 9. In addition, a partial reimbursement for dining and mileage is planned.
The preservation team will include up to 15 volunteers, Native American Studies Program coordinator Bonnie Brown, GCMAC staff, a project intern, and award-winning archeologist Darla Spencer. Spencer is secretary/treasurer of the West Virginia Archeological Society and vice president of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology.
Working with GCMAC’s professional curators and other staff, the volunteers will rotate among various workstations during the weeklong project.
“This service project will utilize a strategy that integrates meaningful contributions with instruction and reflection to enrich the volunteer experience, emphasizing civic responsibility and strengthening communities,” said David Rotenizer, site manager of GCMAC.
“I am delighted our facility has the opportunity to host this special learning experience. It is a win-win for everyone. Our collections will receive much needed support with processing and participants will attain an interesting behind-the-scenes perspective.”
The project kicks off on June 2 with a group visit to Meadowcroft Rockshelter, near Avella, Pennsylvania. Scientific research shows the site was inhabited by humans at least 16,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest such sites in North America.
The week will include free public events, including a nightly film series and an all-day archaeological symposium and luncheon on Saturday, June 8. The symposium keynote will be delivered by Rebecca J. Morehouse, curator of state collections at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. In addition, five panelists will present on various topics related to archeology, such as electronic site mapping, excavations of early historic forts, recent research on pottery, and archaeological investigations at a French and Indian period fort in Morgantown.
In 2012, Brown led a pilot project at GCMAC through the Native American Studies Program with seven volunteers. Participants assisted the curators in processing and cataloging books and documents in the newly-established research library. They also cleaned, labeled, and packaged stone tools and projectile points such as spear and arrow tips and transferred collections to acid-free, archival quality containers. As the state’s official artifact repository, the facility adheres to federal collections management standards and is committed to preserving the collections for today’s researchers as well as future generations.
“The volunteer service-learning experience has value for both the volunteers and the curation facility,” Spencer said.
“The volunteers get ‘hands-on’ experience with Native American material culture they might not otherwise see, and the curators gain much needed assistance with the enormous task of organizing numerous extensive artifact collections. Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex is a state treasure, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this project to help support it.”
Brown was awarded a $17,000 grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to support the initiative.
“Our 2012 pilot collaboration enhanced professional relationships and highlighted our organizations’ shared commitment to preservation and education,” Brown said.
“We’re very pleased the West Virginia Humanities Council is funding this expanded 2013 project. The effort integrates WVU with the broader West Virginia community, promoting mutual awareness and interest in our region and its ancient past.”
Additional support for the project is coming from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, WVU’s Department of History/Cultural Resource Management Program, Meadowcroft Rockshelter Archaeological Site (part of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Association with the Smithsonian Institution), the West Virginia Archeological Society, and Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc.