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Theme of 34th Annual
Living History

Fort St. Joseph, 1691-1781- The Fort of Four Flags
March 21-22, 2009

Sponsored By


“We Bring History Alive!”

Annual event to attract interest from throughout Midwest


The 2009 Kalamazoo Living History Show™ will focus on the journey to find and excavate the historical site of Fort St. Joseph. Located in the area of Niles, Michigan, the current excavations are contributing exciting information to our knowledge of French colonial history and the Native peoples of Michigan.

The Jesuits were the first to build at this site. It is believed that their mission was established in 1684 by Father Allouez. The surrounding Natives were Miami and later Potawatomi and Sauk. Fort St. Joseph has a robust history, having been strategically placed on the Kankakee Portage and the Great Sauk Trail. The fort was a small military outpost and was assigned only 10-12 soldiers at a time. The strategic importance of Fort Saint Joseph was upholding French dominance of the fur trade in that region. At one point, the fort ranked fourth among New France's posts in terms of the volume of furs traded.

Fort St. Joseph was maintained by the French until it was handed over to the British after the Seven Years’ War. The Spanish flag was raised over it for one day in 1781, the furthest north the Spanish flag was ever flown, and finally the United States claimed the fort in 1783. Niles celebrates this history by calling itself the City of Four Flags.

Presentations Planned for the 2009 Kalamazoo Living History Show™ Include:

“Fort St. Joseph During the French Regime: A Short History of the People and Place”

Saturday Only 10:30 AM
Room B

José António Brandão
Professor & Associate Chair, Department of History, Western Michigan University

In this illustrated presentation Dr. Brandão will trace the history of the area that became the fort, the movements of Native peoples in and out of the region, the development of the fort, its society, and its role in the French Empire in North America.

Dr. Brandão (Ph.D., New York University, 1994) is a Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of History at Western Michigan University. He teaches courses on North American Native history, with the history and culture of the Iroquoian linguistic group and the history of Canada, New France, and Colonial America as special interests. He is co-director of the French Michilimackinac Research and Translation project, which works towards identifying and translating French language materials relating to the early history of the state of Michigan. Dr. Brandão is co-editor of the series of publications pertaining to the history and culture of the Iroquoian linguistic group, entitled “Iroquoians and Their World,” and is the author or co-author of many articles and books in the area of his research.

"An Analysis of Fort St. Joseph Artifacts Collected Prior to the Western Michigan University Excavations"

Saturday Only 12:00 PM
Room B

Carol Bainbridge
Director Fort St. Joseph Museum, Niles, Michigan

In this program Carol Bainbridge will present information on the Fort St. Joseph artifacts collected prior to 1998, the date of the first excavation conducted by Western Michigan University. During the period of 1880-1910, several thousand artifacts were collected by local historians from the cultivated surface of the land along the St. Joseph River in Niles, Michigan. Eventually most of the artifacts were donated to museums in southern Michigan and northern Indiana. Bainbridge will discuss the categories and dates that the artifacts fall into and explain how they reflect the cultures of the people who deposited them.

Carol Bainbridge has served as the director of the Fort St. Joseph Museum since 1997. She is the City of Niles’ liaison to Western Michigan University for the ongoing fort archaeology project. Prior to coming to Niles she served for six years as the archivist at the Northern Indiana Center for History. Bainbridge received a B.A. in Art History / Museum Studies Tract from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA and attended the University of Notre Dame for graduate work in American Studies.

“The Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Project: 1998-2008”

Saturday 1:30 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM
Room B

Michael S. Nassaney
Professor of Anthropology, Western Michigan University

Dr. Nassaney discusses the goals and accomplishments of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project since its inception in 1998. He illustrates how the site was located and interprets many of the finds that have been recovered to date. He also discusses opportunities for public involvement in the community-based partnership that includes Western Michigan University, the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, and Support the Fort, Inc

Michael S. Nassaney (Ph.D., UMass-Amherst, 1992) is Professor of Anthropology at Western Michigan University and the principal investigator of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project, an interdisciplinary initiative dedicated to the investigation and interpretation of Fort St. Joseph in Niles, Michigan. The project received the 2003 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation and the Historical Society of Michigan’s State History Award in the Educational Programs category (2007). He has directed the annual WMU archaeological field school, now in its 34th year, since 1994. His research interests include historical archaeology and the study of colonialism and the fur trade in the western Great Lakes. In 2006 he was elected to serve a three-year term as Secretary of the Society for Historical Archaeology, the world’s largest group of archaeologists interested in the study of the recent past (A. D. 1400-present). He is also editor of Le Journal, the bulletin of the Center for French Colonial Studies.

“In Search of Fort St. Joseph: Lessons in History, Culture, and Scientific Methodology"

Saturday Only 3:00 PM
Room B

Michael Nassaney and Stephen Kettner

Videographer Dr. Nassaney and the producing videographer Stephen Kettner introduce their award-winning video that examines the challenges of locating and investigating the long lost site of Fort St. Joseph. Imagery of on-site investigations and artifact finds demonstrates that the site has been found. The fort site contains undisturbed 18th century material evidence that can shed light on the history and culture of its occupants and their activities in the fur trade on the edge of the French empire.

“The Excavated Beads of Fort St. Joseph”

Sunday Only 11:30 AM
Room B

LisaMarie Malischke

This presentation will begin with an overview of the excavated bead collection, and examine the concept of ethnicity in regards to French and Native bead use. Cross-cultural exchange of bead adornment practices will be discussed with implications for identity formation at this frontier fort.

LisaMarie Malischke is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at Western Michigan University, and has been affiliated with the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project since 2003. Her thesis research focuses on the excavated bead collection from the site and its implications for adornment, identity, and cultural exchange. LisaMarie has also been a French Colonial re-enactor since 1996 and is proud to be a presenter at the 2009 Kalamazoo Living History Show.

“Patterns of Animal Use at French Colonial Sites in the Midwest”

Sunday Only 1:00 PM
Room B

Terrance J. Martin
Curator and Chair of Anthropology, Illinois State Museum

Recent archaeological investigations at Fort St. Joseph (in Upper Canada) and at several French colonial villages in the "Illinois Country" allow for an examination of local animal consumption patterns in light of the broader contexts of 18th-century French colonial sites in the western Great Lakes region and Upper Louisiana. These studies supplement the sparse historical record, reveal inter-site complexity, and provide information on past environments.

Terrance J. Martin is Curator and Chair of Anthropology at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, where he is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Anthropology Section’s collection management program and the Museum’s zoological osteological laboratory. He is also an adjunct professor in the Sociology-Anthropology Department at the University of Illinois at Springfield. A native of western Michigan, he received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Michigan State University and has been active in interdisciplinary archaeological research projects for more than thirty years. He focuses on osteological evidence for animal exploitation in the greater Midwest, where he is especially interested in the archaeozoology of late prehistoric and early historic Native American sites and in eighteenth-century French colonial occupations. Since 2004 Martin has co-directed the New Philadelphia archaeological project in Pike County, Illinois, funded by two grants from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

“The 2008 Field Season at Fort St. Joseph"

Sunday Only 2:30 PM
Room B

Andrew Beaupré, Amanda Brooks, and Emily Powell

This program will highlight the activities and recent discoveries associated with the 2008 field season at Fort St. Joseph. Information on the excavations, public education, and public outreach initiatives will be presented through an illustrated slide lecture.

Andrew Beaupré is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University and served as the archaeological project’s public education coordinator in 2008.

Amanda Brooks is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University and served as a teaching assistant for the 2008 WMU Archaeological Field School.

Emily Powell is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University and served in various capacities in the project since 2002 including laboratory supervisor and teaching assistant.


Show Rooms


March 19-20, 2011

March 17-18, 2012

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