WMU News

Latest findings from Fort St. Joseph unveiled

July 19, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Members of the public are invited to join Western Michigan University archaeologists at an on-site open house and community day Tuesday, July 27, that will unveil the latest artifacts discovered at Fort St. Joseph, an 18th century mission and French fur trading post in Niles, Mich.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., includes on-site lectures given at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. by Dr. Michael Nassaney, WMU associate professor of anthropology, as well as exhibits, excavations and costumed interpretations. In the event of rain, the open house will be moved to Wednesday, July 28.

Artifacts on display were uncovered during ongoing excavations of two 18th-century buildings by a team of a dozen WMU students working under the direction of Nassaney and Dr. William Cremin, professor of anthropology and co-director of a summer field school that is focused on the site. Objects recently uncovered include ceramics, gun parts, a belt buckle and other articles of personal adornment, and a religious medallion.

In June 2002, WMU archaeologists announced they had discovered structural remains of the long-forgotten fort. The site was established in 1691 by French colonists on the banks of the St. Joseph River in what is now Niles, Mich. The fort existed until 1781 and also is known as Four Flags Fort because it was controlled by France, England, Spain and the United States during its 90-year existence.

"The project continues to exceed our expectation, and we welcome the public to see evidence of this long-lost fort for the first time," Nassaney says. "We guarantee that what they see will convince them that Fort St. Joseph has indeed been found."

WMU has been assisted in the ongoing project through a partnership with the Fort St. Joseph Museum and Support the Fort Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on preserving the fort's history. Support the Fort and the museum are also sponsors of the open house.

To reach the fort from the center of Niles, go south on Third Street, turn right on Bond Street and go about one mile to the boat ramp.

For more information, contact Michael Nassaney at (269) 387-3981.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
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