Professor Dale Croes is the archaeology professor and one of the anthropology degree advisors at South Puget Sound Community College. Croes was recently awarded the Peace and Friendship Award from the local Squaxin tribe.
Kathryn: First off, congratulations on the award. Can you tell us a bit more about the award and how you got it?
Dale: Each year, the Washington State Historical Society takes nominations for the Peace and Friendship Award. It goes to a Historic Preservation Specialist and a Tribal Cultural Resources Specialist. I was nominated with Charlene Krise, Squaxin Councilperson and Director of the Squaxin Museum Library and Research Center. I am a founding Board Member of the Squaxin Museum and I have worked with Charlene for 10 years in that role. Also, she helped with the SPSCC/Squaxin Qwu?gwes archaeological site, and most recently she coordinated the Paddle to Squaxin, which has been considered the largest single event in Olympia—15,000 people turned out to watch the 100 canoes come into Budd Bay.
K: Can you explain the work you do with local tribes?
D: I worked as a WSU graduate student at the Ozette Village wet site where we worked in equal partnership with the Makah Tribe in recovering a whole section of an ancient village covered under a mudslide. As a waterlogged site, we recovered all the wood and fiber artifacts from the site—now displayed in the spectacular Makah Museum in Neah Bay, WA. Since 1970 I have always worked in equal partnership with Tribes doing archaeology. The latest has been our project with the Squaxin Island Tribe at the Qwu?gwes wet site and with the Siletz and Grand Ronde tribes at the Sunken Village wet site in Portland, OR. I have always done work with Tribes when doing archaeology, which, unfortunately, still is not that common for an archaeologist across the country.
K: How long have you been an archaeologist?
D: I did my first professional dig as a volunteer in Prince Rupert, B.C. with a Canadian team. That was the same summer as Woodstock and the first person walking on the moon—so what year is that?!
K: What kind of work do you do as an archaeologist?
D:I have always been what is called a wet site specialist, so have done work on waterlogged sites with excellent preservation of wood and fiber artifacts. I have conducted digs that have basketry, cordage, and wooden artifacts. I have worked on all the archaeological sites from SPSCC in partnership with Michael Martin, CAD Professor, and Professors from the Welding Department. Since we are a community college, we have valuable technical programs and so we have conducted integrated training, joining diverse departments to create the best maps of our site and construct the best equipment. Our latest joint project has been the 1880s logging railroad line that runs through our campus. Our Archaeology and CAD students for the past three years have conducted hands-on research to figure out what SPSCC was like 125 years ago.
K: What would you say to students interested in getting a degree in archaeology?
D: I would encourage them….You need to know what you want to do, and if it is archaeology, there are career paths working for Federal, State, County and even City agencies involved in land-management—they often have archaeologist positions (e.g., U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Department of Transportation, etc.) More and more tribes are developing Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and hire archaeological specialists. You can also work with private archaeological firms who are hired to evaluate development projects. Then there are also academic teaching positions, usually in higher education, but also at some larger high school systems.
K: Some people have said that getting a degree in anthropology these days is a waste of time and money. Why do you think archaeology/anthropology is important?
D: I would refer them to a news article that focused on the field of Business Anthropology as a career. More and more companies and agencies have people that understand the importance of our global markets and exchange, so business anthropologists are taking high paying positions to assist these institutions to better deal with our global economies and communities.
K: What’s the best thing about being a professor?
D: I enjoy the ability to develop hands-on projects as part of my course-work—getting students to actually do real anthropological projects, whether it is an 1880s logging railroad on our campus or working with local tribes to help with the annual Canoe Journeys. At SPSCC we have one of the best opportunities for students to expand their educations through our Student Life programs, especially clubs. Through the Anthropology Club we have been able to gain support through fundraising and club funds to travel through Egypt, East Africa, Central Mexico, Scotland and Japan, and recently up the Alaska Marine Highway into Northern SE Alaska. International Programs helped a lot with these travels. We have been able to attend international, national, and regional anthropology conferences where students present papers so they can get to know faculty at four-year colleges they are considering for continuing their education. I guess it is the flexibility of community college programs here to assure students get the best possible first experience as they begin their higher education path.