Fort St. Joseph Archaeology canceled for 2020

NILES — For 44 years, archaeologists in training have visited Niles to uncover remnants of the city’s rich history. This summer, however, the tradition will not return.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort St. Joseph archaeological dig will not take place this year, according to representatives from the Niles History Center, which partners with Western Michigan University to host the dig and affiliated programs.

WMU, the sponsor of the field school, decided all summer classes will be delivered through distance learning. The archaeological field school hosted in Niles is not easily adapted to this format.

“The field school is an intensive, hands on, face-to-face, immersive learning opportunity like no other university,” said WMU professor and principal investigator Dr. Michael Nassaney. “Students and staff typically live together, eat together and work together as we engage with the community and learn the art and science of archaeology. While I would like nothing more than to run the field school as we have for the past 44 years, this will not be possible.

History Center Director Christina Arseneau expressed disappointment, but said she understands the university’s decision.

“Every year, we look forward to the archaeology season at Fort St. Joseph,” Arseneau said. “The team becomes a part of the community as they uncover the history of this significant fort. But the safety of our community and visiting students is most important. We look forward to the return of a safe season of archaeology in 2021.”

Restrictions on programming mean that the typical lectures and summer camps offered would be difficult, if not impossible to host, organizers said. These events, typically hosted at the Niles District Library, and the annual Fort St. Joseph Open House, which typically welcomes large crowds to view the dig’s findings in August, are also canceled.

However, there will still be opportunities to learn about this important element of Niles history. The Niles History Center will offer remote options for learning about fort history during the summer. Curation and cataloging of the more than 300,000 artifacts recovered in previous years will continue.

The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project will also offer events through its website and social media outlets.

Field school students at WMU will have the option to enroll in a course on the ethnoarchaeology of COVID-10, taught by Nassaney. The goal is to use the tools of archaeology to learn more about how society has changed as a result of the global pandemic. Through observation and analysis, students will gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the virus on the materiality of daily lives.

To stay in touch with the History Center and the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, visit nileshistorycenter.org, or wmich.deu/fortstjoseph

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 117,910 cases, 6,680 deaths

Berrien County

Niles man gets probation for criminal sexual conduct

Berrien County

Public Safety Warning issued following multiple vehicle break-ins in Berrien County

Dowagiac

DUS approves hire of new Sister Lakes assistant principal

News

Niles Charter Township board approves millages for ballot

Buchanan

Buchanan Art Center donates more than $1,500 to RAM

Dowagiac

DUS approves ICG site improvement plan

News

Niles pastor takes vocals to park

Berrien County

MDARD reminding schools, businesses to only use EPA-approved disinfectants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan sees 117,406 cases, 6,665 deaths

Dowagiac

Dowagiac City Council authorizes loans for sanitary sewer improvements

News

Local organization hosts voter registration, cookout

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces support for front line workers

Dowagiac

Sept. 21 Dowagiac weather report

Berrien County

Michigan Teen Safe Driving program enters 10th year

Berrien County

Free virtual cancer symposium open to providers, public

Education

Niles Community Schools’ remote platform allows students to go at own pace

Business

Dowagiac business donates backpacks, school supplies to students in need

Cassopolis

Miss Cassopolis Scholarship Program hosting school supply drive

Berrien County

Berrien County Health department gets blunt on marijuana education, safety

Cass County

Two Dowagiac men sentenced Friday in Cass County Court

Cass County

Cass County works to expand broadband access

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township passes 2.25 percent millage increase

Berrien County

Local talent development leader honored by Michigan Works! Association