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Artifact workshop to honor memory of Smithsonian archeologist

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Mud Creek chapter of the Kansas Anthropological Association (KAA) will help Kauffman Museum honor the memory of distinguished Bethel College alumnus and nationally prominent archeologist Waldo Wedel in what would have been his 100th year.

The event is the Mud Creek chapter’s seventh annual artifact identification workshop, to be held at Kauffman Museum Saturday, Sept. 27, from 1:30-4:30. The event is come-and-go and is free to the public, with light refreshments served.

September 27 is also the annual Smithsonian Museum Day, when museums and cultural institutions nationwide open their doors free of charge to Smithsonian magazine readers and Smithsonian.com visitors. Coupons for free entry are available in the September 2008 issue of Smithsonian magazine or downloadable on Smithsonian.com. Kauffman Museum is one of 29 Kansas museums participating this year.

For the artifact workshop, the public is invited to bring Native American artifacts and early historical items throughout the afternoon for identification and dating by experienced avocational archeologists from KAA and an archeologist from the Kansas State Historical Society. The specialists will also make helpful suggestions for cataloguing and collection maintenance. Because this is a free public service to improve knowledge of our state’s archeological heritage, no appraisals or sales will be made.

In previous years, the event has been held in Abilene, Kanopolis and Lyons. KAA chose Kauffman Museum this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of archeologist Waldo Wedel, whose family home was located at 24th Street and College Avenue in North Newton.

At an early age, Wedel became interested in the original people of the prairies. He and his friends looked for arrowheads in freshly plowed fields and along the banks of Sand Creek. He began studies at Bethel College before transferring in 1928 to the University of Arizona because no universities in the Plains offered coursework in archeology. Wedel received a B.A. from the University of Arizona and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska. After completing the Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in anthropology with emphasis in archeology, he joined the U.S. National Museum (Smithsonian Institution).

At the Smithsonian, Wedel conducted extensive field projects throughout the Great Plains, and his publications are a primary source for studying Plains archeology. His pioneering fieldwork earned him the designation “father of Plains archeology.”

Wedel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1965 and in 1986 received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for American Archaeology. At the time of his death in 1996, Wedel was archeologist emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution’s U.S. National Museum.

So if you’ve been wanting to know more about the arrowhead you got from your grandfather or the metal object discovered in your backyard, Saturday, Sept. 27, may be your chance. For more information, contact Margie Reed, Mud Creek chapter president, 785-823-8303 (Salina); Rose Marie Wallen, Mud Creek chapter secretary, 785-227-3636 or roseandmikewallen@yahoo.com (Lindsborg); or Rachel Pannabecker, Kauffman Museum director, 316-283-1612 or rpannabe@bethelks.edu.

The Kansas Anthropological Association is a non-profit organization founded in 1955 to bring together professional and amateur archeologists and collectors for the study of the history and prehistory of Kansas people.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum (free with coupon on Sept. 27), which also includes admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children ages 6-16. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its Web site, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/.

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