Professor wins research award

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kelly Branam

Kelly Branam

Kelly Branam Students excavating archeological site 

Kelly Branam, associate professor of Anthropology at St. Cloud State University, was part of a team that won an award last September for work at an Archeological Field School in Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.

The Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit Project Team award was given by the University of Montana for the Big Horn Canyon Archeological Field School. Big Horn Canyon is traditionally the home to the Crow and other Plains Indians.  

"What was unique about this field school was that we incorporated contemporary stakeholders – Crow Indians and Northern Cheyennes – into our project," Branam said.

More than 100 students from around the country, including 10 St. Cloud State students, attended the field school, where students got the opportunity to survey, map and excavate archeological sites as well as meet and learn the oral history of the area from native elders.

"We got the opportunity to mix archeology and ethnography in one field school," junior Brandon Miller, Wells, Minn., majoring in Anthropology and Philosophy, said. "Not only did we get to see how people lived hundreds or possibly thousands of years ago, but to also interact with the Crow people and hear the oral history about their ancestors and what the land means to them."

The park authorities are building an interpretive trail using the oral traditions and stories that were shared with Branam, her team members and students over a span of six years.

"The trail, due to open June 2012, will inform visitors about the Crow Indian culture and heritage," Branam said. "This is the first time a trail is being built in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area that provides cultural interpretation of native peoples that lived in the area before the creation of the park."

Branam worked alongside five other researchers, Robert Kelly from University of Wyoming, Judson Finley from University of Memphis and Northwest College, Laura Scheiber from Indiana University, Rhonda Peer from Northwest Colleges and Chris Finley from Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.   

Branam is working on another field school that began this past summer. The field school focuses on Tribal Preservation Officer training which provides archeological training to native students, who want to work to preserve their historic, tribal and cultural heritage.

Besides Miller, some of the other St. Cloud State students who took part in the archeological field school are: second-year graduate student Philip Brauschard, Logan, Ohio, majoring in Cultural Resource Management Archeology; second-year graduate student Cassidy Campbell, Maple Grove, Minn., majoring in Cultural Resource Management Archeology; senior Amanda Robinson, River Falls, Wis., majoring in Anthropology; senior Erica Beacom, Elkhorn, Neb., majoring in Anthropology and History; and Aaron Erickson ’09, Long Prairie, Minn., majored in Anthropology.

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