Preparation and Execution
By: Isaac St. John
Life doesn’t like set plans for anyone. When I applied for this internship, I thought it would have been more in person. Going into a lab for artifact analysis, interacting with the professionals of Acadia National Park, and presenting findings to the people of the Dawn Land, my people. Cut to now, having been in quarantine for the last half year and not being able to get into a lab because of the possibility of either giving or getting Covid-19. What a year it has been and it’s only been two weeks into the internship!!
When I got news that I was accepted to the program, I was in Sterling, VA with my dog, working on coming back up to Maine, where I am originally from, to work with my tribe, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, as their Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, or THPO. But, those plans, as stated in the beginning, weren’t to be on my schedule. Things were pushed back, times for starting weren’t set in stone, and I started my internship in the midst of getting myself up to Maine from Virginia, which is no small endeavor. During that time of preparation, I met with my supervisor for the program, Bonnie Newsom of the University of Maine and a fellow Wabanaki academic, to discuss the goals of the internship and what will be the main takeaway of it all. Creating a means to get the information contained in the esoteric field notes of archaeologists to the people they were studying. This means, taking the jargon of archaeology and putting them into plain terms, no small feat if you’ve ever had to read handwritten field notes… This is right up my alley, as my academic career is built around making the Ivory Tower of academics and archaeology accessible to the people that they’re studying. I no longer want to see notes and artifacts locked away from those that would most benefit from them, those that aren’t quite sure what their ancestors were using day to day, those people including me. For my first week, I was given the task of creating a presentation of the site I would be analyzing in Acadia National Park: Frazer Point, off the Schoodic Peninsula.
This wasn’t just a presentation to Bonnie, no way! This was a presentation to an Archaeological Committee that consisted of Wabanaki professionals in the Maine Archaeological field, as well as Park officials and professionals from the Abbe Museum. A daunting task for a daunting audience, for sure.
Overall, the presentation was a success, outlining what and where I will be examining the artifacts found and seeing and from these artifacts, if the site should get more attention to prevent erosion. With that done, I could focus on the more pressing issue at hand: getting to Maine. The drive took 15 hours total, with stops along the way for my dog to walk around so she didn’t go stir crazy in the car. But, after an odyssey in Connecticut, my sibling and I finally made it back home, to Houlton, Maine. With that change though, came the ever present reminder of the current health crisis, having to self-quarantine for traveling to another state. Two weeks of being alone, analyzing field notes and waiting for the day I get to interact with others at a safe distance…