For many, remembering the events surrounding last weekend’s activities can be difficult. Remembering what happened a thousand years ago? Well, that is a bit more complicated.
This month, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures received an award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History. The exhibit, “Beneath Your Feet: Discovering the Archeology of Utah Valley,” received the “Leadership in History Award,” an achievement that furthers the purposes of archeology in Utah Valley and the U.S.
Paul Stavast, museum director, said there is great purpose in unearthing cultures.
“Understanding who was here before and who they were is very important,” Stavast said. “We can’t understand ourselves if we do not understand our own peoples’ history.”
The exhibit focuses on the archaeology of Utah Valley, with a focus on the “Fremont culture,” a culture that existed in the area from 400-1,300 A.D.
“We don’t quite know what happened to [them],” Stavast said. “They were an agricultural community, which was strong and thriving. Many believe prior to the Mormon pioneers there were only the Utes … that is just not the case.”
“Beneath Your Feet” opened in April of last year and was created by BYU students. The award brings national recognition to the museum, but also to those students who made it their goal to give voices to those who cannot speak.
On a recent press release, Kari Nelson, curator of education at the MPC, said it is important for BYU students to be recognized for their work.
“I think it’s great to get this recognition, especially for the students who helped create it,” Nelson said. “The visitors enjoy [the exhibit] so much, but it’s nice for the students’ work to be recognized by an institution and see that it is nationally viewed as high-quality.”
The museum focuses on bringing to light the Fremont culture by welcoming everyone in the community. This has proven to be a great learning opportunity for many.
“My students were able to go on a field trip to the [museum],” said Christine Whatcott, teacher at Wasatch Elementary. “This exhibit enabled me to reinforce with ‘real’ objects — maps, etc. — the things that we learned about in class … The kids came away from the experience excited to learn more.”
The history association seeks for the best in the field who represent and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.
The 2011 AASLH Annual Meeting will be hosted in Richmond, Va., on Sept. 16. The presentation is supported by a contribution from the History Channel.