Archived Story

Fort St. Joe starts year with international recognition over entries from Italy and Spain to Florida

Published 10:49pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

By AARON MUELLER
Dowagiac Daily News

NILES — After a successful year, the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project is building some momentum and has opened 2011 with some international recognition.
The project won the first ever Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) Excavation Outreach Contest, which had participants from six archaeological excavation programs across the country.
The winner was determined by votes cast online at the AIA Web site.
Michael Nassaney, the project director and professor at Western Michigan University, will receive a free year of AIA membership and two free registration to the 2012 AIA annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Carol Bainbridge, director of the Ft. St. Joseph Museum, said she was “very pleased” to see the project win.
“It’s great to get recognition from your peers,” she said. “I’m sure this kind of thing will help increase opportunities for grants. All these little awards helps us continue the archaeology at the fort.”
The Fort St. Joseph project received 3,456 votes over the course of the week-long voting period, ahead of entries from Belize, Italy, Spain, Florida and South Carolina.
Bainbridge wasn’t surprised to see Ft. St. Joseph win, as she was watching the tally all week. “We flooded the voting box,” she said.
Bainbridge said Nassaney sent out a mass e-mail to his contacts, encouraging them to vote for the fort.
The voting effort was also fueled by a strong push on Facebook.
The Fort St. Joseph dig is located at a former mission, garrison and trading post complex occupied from 1691 to 1781 by the French and British.
The project has focused on community outreach since excavation began in 2002.
About 10,000 people have visited the archaeological field school since 2006. The annual open house last summer drew more than 1,500 visitors.
“One way to measure progress has to do with community recognition and community involvement,” Nassaney said in an interview with Leader Publications in December. “And we’ve made tremendous strides.”
For more information about the project, visit www.wmich.edu/fortstjoseph or www.supportthefort.net.

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