The Kalispel Tribe is collaborating with Washington State University researchers on a 5,000-year-old archeological dig.

Ancient Tribal earth ovens are being excavated as part of the first archeological project ever made public by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, said WSU researchers in a news release on Tuesday. The ovens were built long before the Egyptian pyramids.

The excavation will happen on June 5 near Newport with WSU archeologists. Attendees will see uncovered artifacts at the site and learn more about the history of the Kalispel Tribe’s indigenous food systems.

The artifacts are being carefully removed from the ground to make room for essential housing for the Tribe, according to researchers.

At the same time, explained archeologists, the excavation provides an opportunity for the Tribe to discover more of its history. Archeologists believe the site was an ancient tribal hunting camp on the banks of the Pend Oreille River and believe the project could reveal insights into the foods the Kalispel people have been preparing and eating in the Northwest for the last 5,000 years.

Shannon Tushingham.

Shannon Tushingham, a WSU professor of archeology who has worked with the Tribe for many years, is leading an archeological field school where students will get first-hand experience practicing techniques.

“It is really about teaching students the archeological skills they will need to get jobs in the growing field of cultural resource management,” Tushingham said. “We are training the next generation of professional archeologists how to work with tribal communities and interact with them in a meaningful and professional way. We are honored to be hosted by the Kalispel Tribe.”

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