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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 15, 2003

Early Iowa History Featured During Archaeology Month

In the summer of 1804, when Lewis and Clark first passed along the western border of what would become the state of Iowa, they encountered indigenous cultures already centuries old. Who were these native residents? How had contact with Euroamericans already affected their cultures? And, how do we know?

These questions will be explored in programs for Iowans statewide during Iowa Archaeology Month, Sept. 20 to Oct. 19, sponsored by the Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa. This year's theme, "First Contact," will be incorporated in presentations on the period just prior to the Corps of Discovery's trek across the newly purchased District of Louisiana 200 years ago, the diverse native peoples who "saw them coming" and what we know of this tumultuous time from the perspectives of archaeology, history and oral tradition.

Featured programs include: a symposium on Meskwaki sites archaeology; opportunities to meet Lance Foster, author of "Native Nations of Iowa;" Iowa Culture History and Cartography; Smallpox, Archaeology and Winter Counts; Archaeology Days; Archaeology Exhibits; and Archaeology in Your Area

The Office of the State Archaeologist has, for more than a decade, coordinated Iowa Archaeology Month, an annual statewide commemoration to foster awareness of Iowa's nonrenewable archaeological heritage and encourage public participation in its understanding and conservation. Each year Iowa Archaeology Month engages the participation of dozens of humanities presenters, promotes partnerships among cultural, historic, and environmental organizations statewide, and introduces thousands of Iowans to archaeology and its lessons of the past.

This year Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities provided nearly $12,000 in grants to Office of the State Archaeologist in support of Iowa Archaeology Month.

Archaeology Month activities are designed for people of all ages, although some events, such as lectures and videos, are more appropriate for adults. There are also several events throughout the month that are geared specifically towards children, including Time Capsules from the Past, sandbox digs, pottery making and special archaeology day celebrations at Effigy Mounds National Monument and various conservation centers. Most events are free of charge although some venues have admission fees. Check the calendar for details.

Iowa Archaeology Month is a sponsored by the Office of the State Archaeologist, Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Iowa Archeological Society, State Historical Society of Iowa, Midwest Archeological Center-National Park Service, Fred Maytag Family Foundation, Association of Iowa Archaeologists, Iowa State University Archaeology Laboratory and Menards of Kewanee, Ill.

The Office of the State Archaeologist is a research unit of the UI. Its mission is to discover, disseminate, and preserve knowledge of Iowa's human pre-history and history. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa appoints a State Archaeologist, who is a member of the UI Department of Anthropology. The State Archaeologist directs a program of statewide archaeological research, service, and education.

For more information about Iowa Archaeology Month, contact Lynn Alex at 319-384-0561, or visit the OSA web site

A complete calendar of Iowa Archaeology Month events is online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Lynn Alex, Office of the State Archaeologist, 319-384-0561,