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KVHS Archaeological Project
Public Invited To Dig Into Local History
Times Staff Writer
May 9, 2004

KOUTS -- Aspiring archeologists and those just interested in the area's history will be offered a unique opportunity next month. An archeological dig will get under way June 14 and continue through July 1 at the site of the old Collier Lodge just south of Kouts along the Kankakee River. To take part, individuals need only become a member of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society and prepare themselves for what could be a fruitful, but slow-going process, said Mark Schurr, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. "Archeological field work takes a lot of patience," he said during a preparatory meeting Saturday afternoon at the Kouts Public Library. Schurr will oversee the project with Notre Dame students.

A group of about 20 people listened as Schurr described the detailed process of an archeological dig and what likely would be discovered. He described the site as the best he has seen in his 14 years in Northwest Indiana and said 1 1/2 days of digging by Notre Dame students last year produced 240 artifacts. Among the items discovered was pottery, some dating back to the prehistoric period of A.D. 1100, he said.

Schurr said next month's dig likely will turn up more pottery, stone tools, animal bones, food remains and garbage pits, which will provide clues to early life in Porter County. All artifacts discovered will become part of a collection at Notre Dame, he said, though the goal will be to put them on display in the community to tell the story of the Collier Lodge.

"They don't do a heck of a lot of good if they're sitting in a dark closet," he said. The dig will involve surveying the site, removing dirt, sifting through the dirt, collecting and washing artifacts, while documenting everything along the way. The work will go on from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and will be open for those who want to watch from the sidelines.

"This is not going to end when the dig is done," Schurr said.

A narrative report will be prepared on the items found, and there is already talk about continuing the search next year. John Hodson, president of the historical society, said the upcoming dig already has attracted new members.

Bob Kasarda can be reached at bkasarda@nwitimes.com or (219) 462-5151, ext. 345