Randi Ward was born in West Virginia but says she was Humanized in Norway. She was the winner of the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s Nadia Christensen Prize for
translating Tóroddur Poulsen’s poetry
collection, Fjalir (2013). Also, she is the writer of the acclaimed poetry collection ‘Whipstitches’.
We had a great time last year, don’t miss out this year!
Join us for another Halloween Story Hour!
Spooky songs, silly stories, and fun crafts for children of all ages!
Darla Spencer (Hoffman) is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) who was born and still lives in Charleston, West Virginia. She has researched the archaeology and early history of West Virginia for over 20 years. In 2002 she was awarded the Sigfus Olafson Award of Merit for her contributions to West Virginia archaeology by the West Virginia Archeological Society (WVAS).
Currently retired, Ms. Spencer is the Secretary-Treasurer of the WVAS and a Board of Directors member of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology. She has published several articles in the West Virginia Archeologist and the Virginia Quarterly Bulletin journals. She has also developed and taught online classes at West Virginia University on the mound building cultures and the Fort Ancient culture in West Virginia.
Here is the forward from Spencer’s book:
During my ten-plus years of teaching Native American Studies at West Virginia University, countless students have shared artifacts given to them by grandparents whose families have farmed, hunted, and fished throughout this region for generations. The typical scenario involves the student opening a brown paper lunch bag or cardboard matchbox, uncovering a small item or two wrapped in cotton or paper towels, and revealing some relic discovered after a new garden was tilled or a driveway was flooded out. Regardless of provenance, these earnest students always want to know about the early people who may made these items, “How old do you think this is? How was it used? What tribes have lived in West Virginia?” In addition, not a year goes by without random inquiries from members of the general public asking about the geographical extent of the mound builder cultures, where to get a stone axe head appraised, who to call if a farmer or logger is concerned about intruding on a village site, etc.
I am not an archaeologist—my training lies in the social sciences, so my usual response to these queries is to stress the essential role of context in looking at any archaeological artifact, awareness of laws addressing the disturbance of human burials and theft of funerary objects and other sacred items, and consideration of our collective responsibilities regarding preservation and conservation. The next step is to contact my faculty colleague and go-to expert, Darla Spencer, the author of this admirable volume. She is knowledgeable, resourceful, generous, and well-connected to fellow archaeologists, and has demonstrated such in numerous collaborations within the region’s professional and academic communities.
Spencer’s diligent research and documentation provide an invaluable resource for anyone—whether fellow scientist, college student, or casual reader—wishing to access the archaeological evidence that helps describe West Virginia’s Fort Ancient people. In addition to being well versed in the subject area, Spencer is able to articulate complex matter with her trademark fluid, objective writing style. Her characteristic attention to detail and ability to weave a multidimensional chronology make Early Native Americans in West Virginia: the Fort Ancient Culture a pleasure to read and ponder. Spencer’s efforts allow us to traverse an archaeological landscape that previous scholarly writers, through inattention, have by default deemed an anthropological “no-man’s land.”
I invite you to thoughtfully approach the following pages, savoring the description, detail, and nuances of Spencer’s efforts in completing this work. The Fort Ancient ancestors who lived in these beautiful hills and valleys deserve the acknowledgement that Darla Spencer helps cultivate, her words nudging us along the time continuum chapter-by-chapter, and deeply enriching our understanding that this was, indeed, home to many thousands of early people whose presence must be affirmed in any informed telling of our continent’s human past.