Archaeology project looks at history of military occupation on Coeur d’Alene ancestral land


COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — A team of archaeology students from Idaho and California are working with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to uncover history from the late 19th and early 20th centuries at Fort Sherman. 

The two-week project, led by the University of Idaho’s Public Archaeology Education Project, hopes to shed light on the military occupation of the American West, while providing students with hands-on experience. 

Fort Sherman was a military installation built in 1878 on traditional Coeur d’Alene homeland known as Hnch’mqinkwe’

“The history of the fort is complicated and traumatic for Coeur d’Alene members,” said Jennifer Fletcher, public relations director for the tribe. “The American military used the fort as part of a colonial campaign to remove the tribe from their ancestral homelands.” 

Researchers will highlight history of the Native community on this land in conjunction with contributions of women, children and Black enlisted soldiers of the 24th infantry. 

Stories of occupation in the West tend to focus on the roles of elite, white male military officers in hostile conflicts with Native American tribes,” said Katrina Eichner, Ph.D., U of I assistant professor anthropology. “By focusing on this singular narrative, the stories and perspectives of a variety of historically marginalized groups are obscured in traditional heritage interpretations.”

The field work will take place through June 15 at the North Idaho College campus by Yap-Keehn-Um Beach and near the Spokane River on the north end of campus. 

If you would like to check out what they are doing – you are invited to watch the excavations through Saturday, between 8-11 a.m. or 12:30-2:30 p.m.