Archaeology students uncover the past - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Archaeology students uncover the past

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David Anderson David Anderson
Kyle Willoughby Kyle Willoughby
Onalaska, WI (WXOW) - -

A group of 16 students from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse have been busy uncovering parts of history.

It's part of the Archaeology Department's summer field base program in the greater La Crosse area. The local field school is a six credit course running four days a week for 5 to 6 weeks during May and into June.

"Students are excavating the remains of a Native American village that dates to around 14, 1450 A.D. to about 1620 A.D.," said David Anderson, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

The land, just south of Holmen at the dead end of County Road OT was once occupied by the Oneota culture.

"The Oneota were an agricultural society so they had corn they needed to store and other products they needed to store. So they would dig large storage pits in the ground that they could basically only use for one season," added Anderson.

After long, those pits weren't good for storage because they attracted insects and microbes. In turn, Native Americans began using them as garbage areas. Now, they're full of artifacts that help tell a story. 

"It's what we call the context. So we need to know, where did we find this particular artifact? Was it found in sand or was it found in really black, organic soil that's the result of garbage that's decomposed," said Anderson.

"We found a partial skeleton of a dog and we are wrapping them up in tin foil and paper towels so that we can safety transport them back to the university," said Kyle Willoughby a third year student in the program.

Uncovering other items like pottery pieces and parts of stones from arrowheads and knives. 

Tou Yang and his partner, Nikki Pegarsch partners at their specific site otherwise known as a feature said it takes time and patience.

"The most exciting thing we've found is probably been a shard of pottery the rim part of it with the actual etching going down the side of it," expressed Yang.

Students are required as part of their undergraduate degree to do a field school, with many of them choosing to do so in La Crosse because of its rich history.

MORE INFORMATION: The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Archaeology Department

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