Happy Canada Day!
Today, we got to sleep in and stay at camp while the professors went off to meet with the Colville Tribes council. We were not completely free though; the TAs lead some activities throughout the morning and early afternoon. My housepit crew started with some cleaning – sweeping in and around the main cabin. Then we joined Molly and Emily for an exercise in surveying. We first found our pacing, how many steps we took for an average of 10 meters, so that we can measure by our strides. Then we created a line oriented north-south and walked slowly across the grass looking for artifacts the TAs had planted. After lunch, Max taught us how to use the Total Station (a.k.a. Fatty Dank) to find the location and elevation of an unknown point based off a known point. It’s quite annoying trying to get the tripod level and centered over the known point, and there is a lot of set-up to accomplish before actually measuring things. I suppose it is faster and more accurate than trying to do it by hand, though. The rest of the afternoon was free which I took utmost advantage of by napping.
We’re back at SNAP camp, and it’s not much cooler. Whoo… and to top it off, the weatherman says we’re staying in the 90s until at least Tuesday! But even though we’ve forfeited air conditioning in the living quarters, we’ve gained shade to do our work in. Back on the negative side, the mosquitoes are still here and still hungry.
Griping aside, we had a pretty good day of travel up from Inchelium. After we packed everything back into the jitney, the mini-van, and Molly’s car in the morning, we piled in and visited a few sites important to the Sinixt in the area with Virgil Seymour, the Lakes representative at the Colville Reservation. First, we visited a church where many Sinixt worshipped when the reservation was first founded, as well as graves of several chiefs buried in the cemetery there. Then we saw an early mission, a very large boulder that had been used as a whetting stone for many of the Native Americans who came to Kettle Falls for the salmon runs, and where the Falls used to be. The sharpening stone was a unique experience because you could see and feel the grooves made from sharpening knives and spears. Such artifacts are part of what I love about archaeology – being able to touch and feel a connection with the same objects someone else touched perhaps thousands of years ago. The falls themselves are no longer visible at Kettle Falls; the historic salmon fishing grounds of the Sinixt and many other tribes of the Northwest is now submerged under water. The area was flooded into a reservoir called Lake Roosevelt by the installation of a dam downstream. Every year, Virgil and other Sinixt people offer a traditional prayer calling to the salmon, even though the salmon cannot reach Kettle Falls because of the Grand Coulee Dam. It amazes and saddens me how nonchalantly white people (mostly) ruined a place so central to many peoples’ cultures and livelihoods.
We ate lunch at the Kettle Falls park and then set out on our journey. The landscape in Washington still stupefies me. It is both desert/dry scrubland and forest; pine trees grow tall and lanky nearly everywhere but beneath and between them is only spindly weeds, tall brown grasses, and thistles. It is a breathtaking and, I suspect, harsh environment to live in, at least away from rivers and other water sources. The drive was generally uneventful inside the jitney, but outside, we drove past a small wildfire, supposedly passed a black bear off the side of the road (I missed it), and Molly got heavily interrogated at the border. Also, I finished the second Game of Thrones book in the jitney which filled me with oxymoronic tense relief.
Back at camp, I cleaned out my tent only to promptly drop quite a lot of dirt in it next time I entered, put clothes and things back in their proper places, ate a dinner of leftovers, did not take a shower because the water is not working, and toured Petra’s Kingdom (tent).