On Monday, seven Mi’kmaw high school students from Acadia First Nation joined us on site. They are here to learn the process of archaeology while at the same time exploring their ancestor’s way of life on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. The program is sponsored by the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Acadia First Nation, with support from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. The students are camping in in the park, and in the evenings they will participate in traditional activities, such as drumming and craft making. This is a fundamental component of the community archaeology aspect of the project, and I know of no better way to engage communities in the research process than to have their youth participate in the excavations.
Each high school student is paired, one on one, with a university student who is their partner for the time they are on site. The students are very keen, and some are so enthusiastic that it is hard to tear them away from digging even when it is time for a break.
They also have exceptional eyes! Even the youngest of our university students have noticed how they can spot the tiniest fragments of bone, pottery, and stone in the middens – far beyond the capability of our “old” eyes.