Thanks For Your Help

As we are about to start our open house weekends, I wanted to take a moment to offer thanks to a few key organizations that have helped us bring the Cliff Mine Archaeology Project to fruition over the years.

First and foremost, I must thank our host, the Keweenaw County Road Commission.  The KCRC owns the Cliff Mine site.  The county purchased the property years ago with the idea that they would use the poor rock piles as gravel on road projects. They hold the land as an investment for the tax payers of Keweenaw County. The Road Commission have been tremendously supportive through permission to do this archaeology study for three consecutive years.  They give us permission to map, dig, and remove items from the site for scientific and historical study.  In addition, they have made very wise decisions about site management, and I know that all the members of our collaborative research team- faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and volunteers (spread over three years so far), are all grateful for the commission’s support.

Next, I’d like to thank our sponsors.  None of our study would be possible without the support of several key organizations and individuals.  Doing archaeology costs real money. Pure historical research, where a scholar works in an archive or county records room, costs much less.  One scholar can decide to spend three weeks of the summer in an archive, with only concern for travel costs.  By contrast, archaeology requires a team of workers. The artifacts and ecofacts that we recover are fundamentally different from the notebook filled with data by that “lone wolf” historian.  The hundreds or thousands of objects need to be washed, cataloged, conserved, and archived.  A report of the dig must be written, that lays down all the technical details for posterity.  These are the things that separate professional archaeologists from for-profit salvage operators or pot hunters.  The analysis and reports, done correctly, require real money to pay for scientific analysis, mundane field equipment and supplies, and student labor in the lab after the dig ends.

Our budget generally breaks down into three parts, and I with to thank each in turn:

1. The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University lends us valuable technical equipment for the project and spends real dollars to support to undergraduate and graduate students, provide vehicles and fuel, and administrative support.

2. The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, through their Heritage Grants program, helps to support graduate students during analysis and report preparation.

3. Private gifts from individuals and corporate sponsors are essential to our successes, as they make up a third or more of our annual budget.  These gifts help us provide support for students (such as Sean Gohman, our excellent blog author and public speaker), cover the costs of scientific analyses, permit us to purchase supplies like nails, string, and shovels.  In particular, I am pleased to thank Joe and Vickey Dancy, LSGI Technology Venture Fund L.P., Bill and Eloise Haller, and Paul LaVanway.

If you have enjoyed Sean’s blog or you’ve been able to come out to see one of our open houses, please consider making a gift of support to the Michigan Tech Fund account for the Cliff Mine Archaeology Project. Gifts of all sizes are helpful and appreciated!

Finally, I would also like to thank some of our intellectual partners in this heritage endeavor!  We are grateful for the support of many people during our research. Everyone on the research team has benefited from our interactions with three institutions in particular:

1. The staff of the Michigan Tech Archive and Copper County Historical Collections at Michigan Technological University has been a tremendous research resource. Besides being one of the key repositories for primary historic documents and photographs, the staff have also been excellent colleagues.  The CCHC has given us permission to use their images on this blog and in our public archaeology efforts at the site.  We are very grateful.

2. The Keweenaw County Historical Society, and its community of scholars, have been very supportive of our work at Cliff. Their members have shared their research with us and continue to collaborate with us on many research topics regarding Cliff, Clifton, and the connections to Eagle River.  We strongly advise everyone to visit their museums in Eagle River, Central, and other places.  Everyone should go to see their brand new exhibit on Cliff and early Keweenaw County life when it opens this summer!

3. Our colleagues at the Keweenaw National Historical Park have been very enthusiastic about our work. One thing we learned during last year’s open house tours is that it really makes a difference when a staff member at one of the Park’s heritage sites advises visitors to go see the archaeologists while they are in the field. Those human interactions make a big difference in the way guests experience the heritage of the Keweenaw.  We are thankful to have National Park staff as colleagues in our efforts to research and teach about the heritage of this region.

That’s enough for now!  We’ll have a big day tomorrow and I need to get some sleep before the tours start!

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About Timothy James Scarlett

Associate Professor of Archaeology at Michigan Technological University.

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