Grandad Archaeological Field School has been conducted at the Native American village site (Polachi) in the Sierran Foothills between Oakhurst and Mariposa for 18 years. It was occupied for over 9,000 years and provides Fresno State students with a rich learning experience to gain basic skills in field work in archaeology as well as learn about Sierran pre-history.
“The property the site is located on is land owned by a Miwuk/Chuckchansi family, who asked them to dig at their village site. Archaeology students had a strong presence of Tribal members from throughout Central California over the years: Miwok, Chuckchansi, Table Mountain, Tachi, Tule River, and Piaute,” Dr. John Pryor said.
The experience has provided tribal members the opportunity to learn about archeology, but just as importantly provided students with an understanding of Native American perspectives and values.
The end result has been helping in training Native American Tribal Cultural Monitors as well as graduates being employed by the Tribes as staff in their Cultural Resources Departments.
As an extension of the collaborative endeavor, utilizing money provided by the Dean of the College of Social Sciences, Dr. Pryor was able to hire 5 paid student interns to process material excavated at the Grandad site in the Anthropology Department’s Archaeology Laboratory.
While they worked in the Lab they incorporated California Native Americans to work with them and learned basic archaeological laboratory methods. To show their appreciation for these efforts, the tribes have donated funds to support this work.