Fort Buford looking for volunteers to help unearth original structures

Members of the Sixth Infantry perform a salute at a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Buford in 2019. An archaeological dig is scheduled for July 7 at the historic site.

Interested in letting out your inner Indiana Jones? Well grab your fedora and head to Fort Buford for a day full of archaeological education.

Unlike the movies, you won’t need whips, ancient maps or enchanted artifacts to take part, just an enthusiasm for history and the willingness to get a little bit dirty. The fort is hosting an excavation on the property adjacent to the historic site on Tuesday, July 7. Site Supervisor Joseph Garcia said it’s an opportunity for the public to not only learn a little more about the fort, but about the basics of archaeology as well. Garcia studied paleontology at the University of Montana, and will be sharing his knowledge with participants.

“The idea isn’t so much just to dig and find things, a lot of people seem to be interested in the techniques that are used by archaeologists in the field.” Garcia told the Williston Herald. “We’re not just going to be demonstrating for them, they’re going to be part of the team.”

Participants will be getting hands-on instruction as they practice various techniques, in an attempt to unearth previously undiscovered portions of the original fort. Garcia said the portion of land being excavated is where a theater, laundress apartments and a Non-Commissioned Officer’s home are believed to have stood.

“Even if we can’t find the buildings, we’re talking an area where people were running around; they’re accidentally dropping buttons, they’re dropping bottles. There’s going to be something even if we don’t find a foundation.” Garcia said.

There is no fee to take part in the excavation, and Garcia said if there is enough interest, there may additional digs in the future.

The excavation isn’t the only excitement the Fort has in store, as the site is preparing for the annual 6th Infantry Encampment weekend, July 11 and 12. The Encampment is free and open to the public, with activities happening throughout the day for visitors to enjoy. The Infantry will give tours of the site, demonstrating a number military and rifle drills during the day, with the always popular cannon drill and firing demonstration taking in the afternoon.

The weekend will also give visitors the chance to learn about life at the fort as re-enactors portraying laundresses will be demonstrate how clothes were washed at the turn of the century, as well as a presentation by a guest speaker portraying a 1st Sergeant of Gen. Custer.

The excavation takes starts at 10 a.m. on July 7, and will last about 4 hours. Participants should dress for the weather, and bring a lunch and plenty of water for the day. For now, spots are limited to 15, but more may open up. Call 701-572-9034 to register. To find out more about Fort Buford and the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, visit history.nd.gov/historicsites/mycic or facebook.com/FortBufordMYCIC.

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