Document Type


Publication Date



This year the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project (hereafter the “Project”) established new standards in research, teaching, and public outreach in the study of the fur trade and colonialism in southwest Michigan. The Project continues to collaborate in the generation and dissemination of knowledge under the auspices of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Advisory Committee (FSJAAC), Western Michigan University (WMU) faculty and students, interested stakeholders, supporters, members, and community volunteers. Highlights of 2015 include:

  • Fort St. Joseph was featured in the exhibit “Evidence Found” at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in 2015, enjoyed by some 60,000 visitors.
  • The Register of Professional Archaeologists certified the 40th annual WMU archaeological field school and the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project.
  • Moreover, the program was selected as the best among registered field schools. In recognition of this honor, two students (Amelia Harp and Erika Loveland) were awarded $500 scholarships by the Society for American Archaeology.
  • The sixth annual summer archaeology lecture series was held in cooperation with the Niles District Library and featured prominent speakers who discussed architecture in historical and archaeological perspective.
  • In an effort to increase the digital presence of the Project, new social media accounts have been created including Twitter and Instagram, along with a renewed commitment to the blog and Facebook page.
  • The FSJ blog surpassed 47,500 views.
  • The 2015 summer camp program provided hands-on archaeological experience for 25 participants of different ages and backgrounds.
  • Over 800 grade school and college students viewed the 2015 excavations.
  • During the 2015 Open House, re-enactors, community representatives, and craftsmen shared their knowledge with over 700 visitors who experienced and learned about daily life, archaeology, and architecture at the Fort.
  • The 2015 WMU Archaeological Field School discovered a new feature that provides additional information on the construction techniques at the fort.
  • Project participants represented Fort St. Joseph at Michigan Archaeology Day in Lansing.
  • Sue Reichert won two awards in the photo contest sponsored by the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology held at the Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology in Seattle, WA.
  • A Strategic Plan based on the feedback received during the Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference hosted in Niles, MI (September 2014) was presented to the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Advisory Committee.

The Project benefits from the generous support of numerous and varied partners and volunteers (Appendix A is a list of supporters and sponsors; Appendix B lists donors and volunteers). Without this level of community involvement, the Project could not continue its work to reconstruct the evolving history of Niles’ colonial past and make the information widely available.

This report summarizes the recent activities of Project participants including the 2015 excavations, site documentation, laboratory work, public education and outreach initiatives, committee accomplishments, and dissemination of results to professional and general audiences. A complete list of Project Outcomes can be found in Appendix C.