Within my first week of this internship, I was able to participate in bringing life back into Grape Island in its long-term restoration site. We had brought over 50 trees and shrubs to be put into the ground, fertilized, and watered. Through this project, I learned that indigenous groups had previously spent a significant amount of time on the islands. Grape Island, specifically has been known as an area with plentiful fishing. In order to ensure that this area did not contain any historic artifacts, we dug up test pits where potential shrubs and trees would be planted. At the start of the day, we met with an archeologist who would be able to identify anything within the soil. We used an archeology screen to sift through whatever the shovels collected. Luckily all of the test pits came back negative for historic artifacts, indicating that we could use the holes for our plants. However, we did find the jaw of a muskrat and a lot of modern trash.
This project encouraged me to recognize how it is important to be mindful of the land you plan to work on. It showed me how historic preservation does not always mean actively restoring a site to look the way it once did, but also preserving the land so that stories yet to be found aren’t buried.