To find out more about the project vist the KICAP website. More
Top Right Photo: Josh Allen.
Lower Left Photo (back row, left to right): Josh Allen, Heather Sargent, Sara Galbraith, and Stacey Camp (middle row, left to right): Lacey Plummer, Jamie Capawana, April Kamp-Whittaker, Paige Davies, and Dana Shew (bottom row): Dr. Doug Ross (Assistant Director of Field Project).
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Josh Allen Pursues His Earthy Passion
Josh Allen Pursues his Earthy Passion: Undergraduate Student Spends Summer Studying Internment Camp Sitesby Lisa Heer
Josh Allen has a passion for unearthing history- literally.
A junior at UI, Allen came from Sandpoint to pursue a B.S. in Anthropology with an emphasis in Archaeology, and this summer he was able to put his studies to use with some real field work at two different research sites.
After receiving a CLASS Key Fund award, Allen got a chance to travel to Amache, Colorado to participate in a dig run by UI Assistant Professor Stacey Camp, which focused on how internment camp archaeology is presently being conducted around the country.
“If I had to say one thing about the Amache Internment camp it would be that it is a very unforgiving environment. Sand, ants, and some plants that do not make it past two or three feet are all this is out there. There is a little shade provided by what is left of the trees planted by the internees. I can hardly imagine being forced to live there,” said Allen.
An unusual aspect of the Amache dig for Allen was the chance he had to work with a woman volunteer who had actually been at the camp as a little girl.
“It was a very interesting experience to meet both her and her husband and work with them on the site,” said Allen.
The Kooskia Internment Camp Archaeological Project in northern Idaho, also run by Stacey Camp, was a drastically different experience.
The dig season at Kooskia made for preliminary dig procedures, and Allen spent much of his time surveying the landscape on foot and conducting shovel tests along the site.
“I enjoyed the chance to travel and to honestly just get my hands dirty in archaeology,” said Allen. “I think everyone worries that they are not actually going to like what they have spent years studying towards once they get a real chance to do it.”
At Kooskia the group did find a few ceramics and other artifacts which belonged to the internees who occupied the site in 1943.
“I think the most exciting things to find were the objects that the internees actually brought with them. When the Japanese were taken to these camps they were allowed to bring very little with them so you don’t see many actual Japanese artifacts,” said Allen.
The data collected at Kooskia will be used to compare to existing collections and other in-process digs. The past semester Allen has been working as a student laboratory technician in Camp’s lab to help process and organize these artifacts.
“Josh is a quick learner and brings lots of practical skills to the table in terms of his participation on archeological field projects,” said Camp. “For example, he built a flotation tank for me from scratch after learning about them at the University of Denver’s field school.”
Flotation tanks are used to process botanical samples collected during archaeological field schools, which help give archaeologists a sense of what foods were being eaten and grown by the people who occupied the site.
“Josh is inquisitive and has a natural curiosity for learning,” said Camp.
Allen has worked closely with her, learning about archaeological methodologies while she researches the history of World War II Japanese American Internment Camps.
While the actual excavations at Kooskia were limited, Allen is sure this is the field he wants to pursue and credits his mom for his interest in studying anthropology.
“I have loved history as far back as I can remember,” said Allen. “I suppose I see archaeology as the best way to get the closest to history. Plus, who doesn’t like to play in the dirt?”
He plans on participating in more digs in the future, and on attending graduate school to become an archaeologist.