Excavation Set to Start in April on Mission Indian School Sites

Posted on April 2, 2022

City of Salem – 04/01/22 9:00 AM

Salem, Ore. — Excavation is set to begin in April on two Salem sites of historical interest, as part of a public archaeology project led by the City of Salem. The project focuses on the sites of the former Oregon Indian Mission Manual Labor School and the school’s administration building (which later became known as the parsonage).

A Preserving Oregon grant awarded to Willamette University from Oregon Heritage is partially funding this project.

The boarding school and administration building were built southeast of the 1841 Methodist Mission House built by Jason Lee. Between 1841 and 1842. Native American children from across the Pacific Northwest attended the boarding school during its two-year life span. It was disbanded when the mission closed in 1844. The school building served as the first campus for Willamette University between 1853 and 1864.

The research goals of the project are to better understand the locations of the two buildings and provide greater context to their original stories.

Excavation work will be supervised by Archaeologist Ross Smith, with field work support provided by volunteers with the Oregon Archaeological Society and students at Willamette University. Greek students visiting Willamette University will complete photogrammetry, which involves converting photographs into digital models.

Artifacts uncovered during the dig will be recorded and processed by Oregon Archaeological Society volunteers in archival-quality materials  for storage and access as part of the Willamette Heritage Center’s collections.

Learn more about The Oregon Mission Indian Manual Labor Training School Archaeology Project.


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