Historians, archaeologists with ties to Fort St. Joseph to give free lectures

Published 8:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2021

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NILES — Local historians, archeologists, and those with an interest in the fields will soon be able to get an update from those who have connections to the Fort St. Joseph site in Niles.

“Fort Talk Thursdays” will be hosted virtually each Thursday at 7 p.m. beginning on Jan. 28. The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, Niles District Library and Niles History Museum have come together to present the series.

“Every year during the summer, during archeology season, we host a lecture series,” said Christina Arseneau, director of the Niles History Center. “We weren’t able to do it last year. We didn’t get to do our open house. We decided to try the virtual series for the winter.”

The Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project is a continuing partnership between the city of Niles and Western Michigan University.

According to the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project blog, the partnership is to “excavate, interpret and preserve the material remains of Fort St. Joseph, a mission, garrison and trading post occupied from 1691 to 1781 by the French then British.”

Each speaker for “Fort Talk Thursdays” is someone with a connection to the project.

“This is a chance for people to stay in touch with the project and the fort,” Arseneau said. “All of the speakers were part of WMU’s program. They’re working as professional archaeologists or furthering their academic studies at this point.”

Erika Hartley, Fort St. Joseph’s curatorial fellow, put the speakers together for the series.

“They will all talk about Fort St. Joseph and how they got started in archaeology,” Areseanu said. “It’s interesting because we do this real archaeology here. People go on to do archaeology in different parts of the country and world. It’s interesting to see what they do after their experience here in Niles.”

There will be five “Fort Talk Thursdays” from Jan. 28 through Feb. 25. All of the lectures are free to attend virtually on Zoom. Links to the sessions can be accessed  on the Niles History Center’s website on the NilesMi.org website, in addition to each on the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project’s Facebook page. Each guest will spend between 15 and 20 minutes on their topic and host a question and answer session afterward.

7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28

“Those Beyond the Walls: An Archaeological Examination of Michilimackinac’s Extramural Domestic Settlement, 1750-1781”

James Dunningan, Cultural Resource Specialist, HDR, Inc.

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4

“Dive into History at Home: French Colonial Blacksmith Shops in VR Museums”

Jeffrey Nau, owner, Dracan Works, LLC

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11

“Threads Across the Atlantic: Exploring Lead Seals from Fort St. Joseph”

Cathrine Davis, Ph.D. student, William & Mary

7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18

“History and Minecraft: Re-Creating the Past in Digital Spaces”

James Schwaderer, Ph.D. student, Michigan Technological University and Keweenaw National Historic Park

Thursday, Feb. 25

“Educating the Next Generation of Students in Archaeology”

Sue Reichert, M.A. Anthropology, Western Michigan University