College students excavate Native American site

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HOLMEN, Wis. (WEAU) -- Area college students are digging up hundreds of Native American artifacts in the Coulee Region.

The saying "One man's trash is another man's treasure" is holding true this summer for some UW-La Crosse archaeology students, as they excavate what used to be trash pits at a Native American site near Holmen.

"The trash pits, most people think you're just digging up garbage, but for us it's actually a really rich time capsule that gives us a lot of information even down to what months they were living here if they weren't living here year-round," said David Anderson, Associate Professor of Archaeology at UW-La Crosse.

It's part of a five-week, hands-on course in the undergraduate archaeology program that takes advantage of the Coulee Region's rich history.

"It's an incredibly rich site and I tell them they're going to get spoiled because a lot of sites that I work on in North America you may find a couple hundred artifacts in a month of excavation, and you're finding them in the morning," Anderson said.

The field is just south of Holmen and it belongs to a private landowner that allows this class to go there each summer and focus on a different piece of the land.

The site dates back to about 1450-1600 A.D.

The students are finding things like animal bones and pottery, which they’ll take back to UW-La Crosse to study and preserve.

"A lot of people probably wouldn't think a broken piece of pottery is pretty cool but it can tell you a lot about that society and the way they lived," said Tess Snell, a student in the class.

"One of the things that I enjoy the most is finding something that hasn't been touched or seen in several hundred or several thousand years," said Brandon Emerson, the teacher's assistant. "Out here it's within the hundreds but we find chunks of pottery that hasn't been touched in five hundred years and that's super cool that you can make that connection and whatnot."

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