18 July, 1998
07/18/98 A Busy Saturday
*** A rainy morning dig - sanitation patrol - shopping in Deering - a typical night in the lab ***
Today was rainy and cold. Half the crew stayed in the lab to preserve artifacts, while the rest of us went out to dig. We dug until lunch and we accomplished quite a bit despite the conditions. After lunch our leader, Rick Reanier sent Aaron and me on sanitation patrol. We commandeered the construction crew's truck and drove to the lab to pick up the garbage and the "Honey Bucket". The village of Deering has no real sanitary facilities and although the sewer project "is in the works" they have been held up by the burials that we are excavating. The "Honey Bucket" serves as a self contained indoor toilet in a five-gallon bucket. Although some residents dispose of the contents of the "Honey Bucket" in the traditional way (in the ocean), you are supposed to take it to the village sewage lagoon. Our next stop was the old parsonage, which now serves as our female dormitory, and is the place where we eat our meals. We picked up our garbage there and the "Honey Bucket" and then got some of our cook's (Calvin Motto) garbage and headed for the Tundra. On a dirt road west of town we disposed of the garbage in the landfill and the "Honey Buckets" in the sewage lagoon.
For the rest of the afternoon we did more excavations. I uncovered an old hearth full of charred animal bones. We enlisted Brian Weinard of VSW (Village Safe Water) to use the backhoe to move our waste dirt, as we straightened things up for the weekend.
When we need something in Deering, we go to the Deering Native Store and charge it to UIC (Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation). It is a good thing too, because everything has to be flown here so it is 3 times more expensive. Our village co-workers love Chinese food and have it delivered. It costs them an extra $10 to have it taken to the airport in Kotzebue, load it on the next flight, and have it flown over the sound to arrive piping hot at the airport. Every night the lab stays open so that village residents can view what we have found, ask questions and watch the artifacts being conserved. We get a lot of families and tons of kids so that the atmosphere ranges from friendly to very festive. We stay open usually until after 11:00 P.M., which isn't late for Deering because it is still light and everybody is up. The connections with the village are a lot of what makes this project so much fun.
As Tim Conner said, the Honey Bucket initiation was certainly new. The whole atmosphere here feels a bit like Boy Scout Camp; how about archeology camp? We wake up every morning to an archeologist's dream, artifacts galore. And we are very rushed so the removal is quick. In archeological terms, we are ripping them out of the ground. It is so much fun, and we are really getting an intense intro into archeology. In the last week I have gone from being a complete novice to having at least a tenuous grasp of the subject.
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