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Grant Helps College, Champlain History Center Team Up for Archaeology Dig

The Samuel De Champlain History Center, SUNY Plattsburgh anthropology department, and the Town of Champlain Partnership have received nearly $2,500 from the 2015 Champlain Valley National Heritage Local Heritage Grants program.

The $2,498 grant will provide experiential learning opportunities for local students ages 8 and up through hands-on activities working with an early 19th-century archaeological site of a settlement home in Coopersville, N.Y., just south of Champlain.

The site will give students rare insights into the history and culture of the Champlain Valley — many of these sites have been lost or destroyed. Students will be involved in all aspects of the project, ultimately creating interpretive panels. “Settlers of Champlain Valley: Lost and Found” will be installed at both the Samuel de Champlain History Center in Champlain and SUNY Plattsburgh.

Throughout the project, students will work closely with Jan McCormick, museum curator and educator at the Champlain history center, and Andrew Black, SUNY Plattsburgh adjunct professor and professional archaeologist. SUNY Plattsburgh students will act as mentors at the dig site, and students will research artifacts at the anthropology lab on campus.

The historic site, located on Black’s property, dates to the early 1800s when an increased wave of immigrants, looking to build new lives and opportunities, arrived as families from New England and Canada. Many of these early settlers bought land and sought to establish small family farms in what was then still wilderness.

“The most valuable lots, of course, were ones next to the major water sources, such as the Great Chazy River and Lake Champlain,” Black said. “This site offers students a rare opportunity to understand how the Champlain Valley was settled and to learn how to preserve, research and interpret important community and cultural resources.”

McCormick has been a museum history curator and educator for 17 years and has developed state-standards museum curricula. She has worked closely with students of all ages on archaeological digs and camps and will assist in teaching the students involved in the Coopersville project.

Black has taught archaeology and anthropology courses at SUNY Plattsburgh for four years and operates Black Drake Consulting, a cultural resource management business. The grant will be used to cover the cost of the exhibit panels and materials, which include educational brochures for both the history center and anthropology department at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For information, contact Dr. Celine Paquette at the Samuel de Champlain History Center, 518-298-1609.

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