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Anthropology Tushingham Lab

Field School

WSU Archaeological Field School

Indigenous Collaboration, Landscapes, and Heritage Management


***Update: Due to the risks associated with COVID-19 and the cancellation of all in-person classes for the Summer 2020 semester at WSU, the 2020 field school has been cancelled. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you will join us for the 2021 field school!  

June 15–July 24, 2020

Link to flyer here.

If you are interested in joining the field school, please fill out an application (available here as a fillable PDF or here as a Word document) and submit it to Tiffany Fulkerson at

About the WSU Archaeological Field School

The 2020 Washington State University (WSU) archaeological field school will be held in the scenic Whistler Canyon-Mt. Hull region of Okanogan County, situated in the Okanogan Highlands of north-central Washington, near the city of Oroville. The field school is located within the traditional territory of the Okanogan people and the ceded lands of the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT), on land currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). WSU has partnered with the BLM to create a field school that will prepare students for the evolving professional, academic, and compliance landscapes of archaeology.

In addition to teaching students fundamental field and lab skills essential to diverse careers in archaeology, the field school is bound by three prevailing themes: 1) emphasizing “decolonized” approaches to archaeological method and theory that promote ethical collaboration with descendant communities; 2) exploring questions about historical ecology, traditional diet, health, food sovereignty, and family decision making and cooperation through an archaeological understanding of landscape use and Traditional Ecological Knowledge; and 3) training students in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) policies and practice, which is not only necessary for a career in archaeology in countries like the US, but is directly applicable to other heritage and resource management professions, both nationally and internationally.

The Whistler Canyon-Mt. Hull area is rich with history, yet limited archaeological work has been conducted in the area, so there is much to explore and learn. Based on previous discoveries in the region, the types of sites that students might expect to find, revisit, and record include precontact rock shelters, rock alignments, pictographs, house pits, talus pits, and storage features. Historic mining, logging, and railroad sites also occur in the area. Artifacts collected in the field will be analyzed in a lab setting, which will help students to better understand the cultural sequences and chronology of the Okanogan Highlands, analyze material culture in detail, and learn about artifact curation and preservation. Field trips to museums and significant sites along with visits from experts in the field of archaeology and other guests will help to enhance the students’ appreciation and understanding of the region’s expansive natural and cultural history.

The Whistler Canyon-Mt. Hull region has much to offer for people who appreciate nature and the outdoors. From remarkable views of the North Cascades to vistas of the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers in the southern Okanagan Valley, there is no shortage of beautiful landscapes to enjoy. The area is popular for a variety of recreationalists, including hikers, horseback riders, rock climbers, and wildlife enthusiasts. Numerous trails suitable for hikers of all experience levels traverse the project area and its immediate vicinity, including the Pacific Northwest Trail—a 1200-mile trail that extends from Cape Alva in the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide in Montana. It is not uncommon to see mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wild turkeys, eagles, and yes, whistling marmots (“whistlers”) in this picturesque landscape.

Code of Conduct

WSU is committed to maintaining an inclusive environment that is safe and free of discrimination, and upholds a zero-tolerance policy for sexual and gender-based misconduct. All students and researchers will be required to adhere to WSU community standards and to review and sign a code of conduct that includes ethical standards for archaeological research, sustainable and collaborative practices, and policies prohibiting sexual harassment and misconduct, racism, ableism, and discrimination of any kind. As part of the course curriculum, students will critically engage with literature and discussions on harassment and equity issues in the sciences, with the goal of helping students to recognize biases and discrimination when they occur and to actively promote safe and equitable work environments. For more information on WSU community standards, visit To learn more about archaeological ethics, visit the Archaeological Ethics Database—created by the Register of Professional Archaeologists and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists—at

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost and how do I register?

Field school students are required to enroll in 7 credits of ANTH 399 (undergraduates) or ANTH 599 (graduates) for the Summer 2020 semester. The total registration cost is $4,176 for undergraduate students and $4,715 for graduate students. Of that amount, $543 goes towards a fee that will be used to pay for food and accommodation expenses. The remainder of the money will go towards tuition costs.

You must complete and submit the application form in order to be considered for the field school (see link and instructions above). We will send you registration and deposit information upon acceptance into the field school. Please remember that the priority deadline for submitting applications is Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Applications submitted after March 25th will be considered only if space is available. You will be asked to provide a $500 deposit (due April 15) in order to secure your spot in the field school.

You are responsible for bringing your own personal field gear and supplies (see below), spending money, special foods, and any medication that you need.

What are the living and meal accommodations like?

While we are currently exploring lodging options, it is likely that participants will be camping for the duration of the field school. We will ensure access to basic amenities (e.g., portalets and/or access to bathrooms, showers or solar shower stalls, a kitchen facility, electronics charging station, etc.). Meals will be provided.

Cooking responsibilities and tasks related to the basic maintenance of the field camp will be shared by students and staff. We will accommodate all dietary allergies and try to accommodate other dietary needs to the best of our ability, but due to field school conditions, it may be difficult to meet the specialized needs of some diets.

Field school participants will have the opportunity to run personal errands in Oroville (e.g., stock up on supplies, use a laundromat, access a bank ATM) on Sundays.

What is the weather like?

Daytime temperatures in Oroville for the months of June and July average in the mid-70s to high 80s, with nighttime lows in the low 40s to mid-50s. While uncommon for the months of June and July, it is possible for temperatures to reach as high as the low 100s on some days. Summers are relatively dry, but rain may occur. Prepare for warm, dry days and cool nights, with the potential for scattered showers.

What do I need to bring?

A list of required and recommended items to bring with you to the field school can be found here.

How will I get there? Can I bring my own car?

Project vehicles will transport field school participants from the WSU Pullman campus to the field school and back again. Currently, our plan is that project vehicles will depart from College Hall on the WSU Pullman campus on Sunday, June 14, 2020 (time TBD). Staff can arrange to pick up students who are flying into the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (PUW) prior to departure. From Pullman, we will caravan to Spokane, where will stop to pick up/meet additional students (time and location TBD) and stock up on supplies at Costco. After leaving Spokane, we will caravan to the Field camp, making a few pitstops along the way. You may bring your own vehicle to the field school; however, you will be responsible for finding parking and all associated costs.

What is the work schedule like?

This is an intensive field and laboratory course. Students should expect to work hard and learn a great deal over the six weeks of instruction. The field school will take place Mondays through Saturdays, with Sundays off. Field school activities will be suspended July 3–5 for the 4th of July weekend. Students should expect to be flexible as our work schedule will depend on many circumstances (e.g., weather, field conditions, field trip opportunities, changes in field locations). Generally, expect to depart for the project area after breakfast at around 8 am or 9 am on most days (earlier or later depending on weather and other conditions).

Students will be divided into groups and rotate between the field and lab during the day. Students will be trained in a wide range of field and laboratory skills, which they will have ample opportunity to practice. Fieldwork activities include excavating units and subsurface shovel probes, screening soils, pedestrian survey, recording sites/features/isolates, drawing stratigraphic profiles, analyzing soils and geologic features, mapping, photographing, documenting vegetation and landforms, and revisiting previously recorded sites. Labs will provide students with opportunities for artifact and ecofact identification/analysis/recording, cataloging, learning ArcGIS and WISAARD, and training in collections care and management.

Students and staff will share meal preparation duties and tasks related to camp and shared workspace maintenance. Students will rotate between cooking, maintenance tasks, and lab work in the evenings. Reading discussions, presentations, and daily activity discussions will also take place on most evenings as part of the course curriculum. Since graduate and undergraduate students will be enrolled in the same number of credits (7 units), graduate students will be expected to take on some additional responsibilities as well as a capstone project and presentation.

What are the physical requirements of the field school?

This field school cultivates an inclusive environment for people of all abilities. On most days, the majority of field school participants will engage in a variety of physical activities, including digging and skimming with shovels, troweling, carrying buckets of soil over short distances, shaking and sifting through screens, carrying field gear and equipment, hiking through a variety of landforms, loading and unloading vehicles and trailers, and setting up and taking down lodging and field equipment. Our priority is to ensure a safe and happy work environment, and we only ask that you work to the best of your abilities within reason, and to recognize and take precautions against the risks inherent in outdoor work. If you are a person with a dis/ability that might interfere with performing certain tasks, please contact us and we will accommodate you to the best of our abilities.

Is there a syllabus and list of required readings?

A syllabus, complete with a list of required readings, will be distributed to registered students. Required readings will be printed on a reader and will also be made available through a shared Dropbox folder.

Contact Information

Shannon Tushingham, PhD, RPA
Project Director/Principal Investigator
Department of Anthropology
Washington State University

Tiffany Fulkerson, MA
Field Director
Department of Anthropology
Washington State University