Archaeologists contracted by the Idaho Transportation Department and SWCA Environmental have been working on the answers to that question over the past few years and will share some of what they’ve learned in two Idaho Archaeology Month presentations at the Sandpoint Community Hall on May 19 and 26. The presentations are free and open to the public, but donations to the Historical Society will be gratefully accepted at the door to help cover expenses.
On Thursday, May 19, at 7:00 P.M., Robert Betts of Vanguard Research will present “From Time Immemorial: Sand Creek and the Prehistory of Sandpoint, Idaho.” The Sand Creek Byway archaeological excavations of the historic Sandpoint townsite involved ten sessions of field work over a period of three years and is the largest archaeological project ever undertaken by the State of Idaho. Close to 570,000 artifacts were recovered. Artifact analysis and report preparation is currently under way at the University of Idaho. While excavation focused on recovery of artifacts associated with the early Sandpoint townsite, a small number of prehistoric artifacts were also recovered that reflect Native American activity at the mouth of Sand Creek that preceded the establishment of the early townsite by thousands of years.
Robert Betts was involved in all three years of the Byway excavations. He will discuss what the stone tools and other prehistoric artifacts recovered can tell us about the Native Americans who were utilizing resources in the vicinity of Sandpoint for thousands of years. Some of the prehistoric artifacts found at Sand Creek point towards long distance trade and cultural contacts with regions far to the south in Idaho as well as to the north in Canada and suggest that since “Time Immemorial” people living on the north shore of Lake Pend Oreille were well integraded into regional prehistoric trade networks.
The “Historical Archaeology of the Sand Creek Byway” will be at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, May 26. Bob Weaver, one of the principal archaeologists on the Byway project, will share some of the artifacts that were recovered during the three years of excavations on the original Sandpoint townsite. Weaver will explain how these artifacts are being used to piece together a history of Sandpoint from the arrival of the railroads in the 1880s, the growth of the town and the Humbird Lumber Company, and the more recent tourist industry of the Lakeside Hotel site.
Both presentations are sponsored by the Bonner County Historical Society, City of Sandpoint, Vanguard Research, SWCA Environmental, and the Idaho Transportation Department.
Stop by the Bonner County Museum for a flyer with a complete listing of Idaho Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month programs throughout Idaho or visit http://history.idaho.gov/archmonth.html.