This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
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phone: (715) 836-4741
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UW-Eau Claire Professors, Students
Continue Summer Research in Canada
MAILED: July 31, 2001

         EAU CLAIRE — Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professors and several students were once again involved in a field research project conducted in Canada during June and July.
         For the second year in a row, UW-Eau Claire geography professor Garry Running teamed with Dion Wiseman, a geography professor at Brandon University in Manitoba, Canada, to offer directed study credits in advanced geographic field methods.
         The opportunity for advanced study was offered in conjunction with the Manitoba component of a five-year, interdisciplinary research project to document aboriginal land use and adaptation to the northern plains at critical times over the past 9,000 years. Geographers, geologists, archaeologists, historians and other specialists from across western Canada and the upper Midwest of the United States are working together to collect and interpret information about the ancient environment and how people adapted to it.
         Ryan DeChaine, a junior from Brainerd, Minn., and Corinne Orzech, a senior from Waukesha, were two UW-Eau Claire geography majors taking the course this summer, along with two geography graduate students from UW-Madison. Dr. Karen Havholm, UW-Eau Claire associate professor of geology, and Nicole Bergstrom, a UW-Eau Claire senior comprehensive geology major from Green Bay, also joined them for the project.
         According to Dr. Scott Hamilton of Lakehead University, Ontario, Canada, this year’s investigations began at the Tiger Hills of southern Manitoba and over the next six weeks focused on a cluster of sites dating from the last 2,000 years. The archaeological part of the research included investigation of the Lowton site, where researchers removed plowed and disturbed surface soil in hopes of discovering intact features, such as storage pits or hearths, that will indicate whether ancient inhabitants engaged in horticulture to supplement wild food.
         Excavations were also carried out on a recently discovered bison kill, with an associated encampment known as the Hokanson site. This site, believed to be about 1,500 years old, includes a bison “pound” or trap built along the edge of a slough. The researchers were interested in what this site can reveal about how hunters exploited the landscape to trap and kill animals, and then cooperated in the processing of large quantities of game.
         Running and his geography students spent most of their time using a geoprobe coring device to investigate alluvial fans in the Pembina Trench, a huge meltwater channel just a few miles east of the sites the archaeologists are investigating.
         “We were looking at the fans as sources of information with which to reconstruct environmental conditions at the time folks lived at the archaeological sites,” said Running, noting that part of their work also involved further assessment of geophysics as a means of prospecting for subsurface site features, and determining which geophysical methods of investigation work best in these particular conditions. As part of his student research project, DeChaine will write up and analyze this data.
         Orzech, along with Havholm and Bergstrom, conducted and documented research in the Lauder Sand Hills, one of the last sites on their itinerary. Orzech analyzed land use, while Havholm and Bergstrom’s work involved taking measurements on sedimentary structures in dune exposures to determine their mode and direction of movement.
         Running said that the one of the best aspects of the project was that the students got to interact with a variety of professionals and see how each conducts data collection and research. “We had a great crew and everybody worked as a team — everybody worked as everyone else’s field assistants. We all worked hard, learned a lot and had fun doing it,” he said.
         Funding for this project comes primarily from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in the form of a $2.5 million Major Collaborative Research Initiatives grant. According to Running, the grant for this project was initiated by similar research that he and his students conducted with Canadian colleagues in southwest Manitoba in 1998 and 1999, which had been funded by the Office of University Research at UW-Eau Claire.

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Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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Updated: July 31, 2001