Kent Lightfoot, Professor

Closed (1) The Historical Ecology of San Francisco Bay Area Shellmounds

Check back for status

Over a century ago, pioneering archaeologist Nels Nelson of the University of California Berkeley (UCB) began systematically recording and excavating shellmounds throughout the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA). Most of these sites are now destroyed—a result of urban development. One site excavated in the 1950s and located in West Berkeley provides evidence of indigenous lifeways in the SFBA for over three millennia. Researchers at the California archaeology laboratory, UCB, San Francisco State University, and cultural resource management archaeologists are interested in reanalyzing pre-existing archaeological shellmound collections to understand shellmound construction and the role these sites played in the history of the SFBA. Reanalyzing the West Berkeley assemblage will contribute to this larger research project.

As part of this URAP, students will learn to identify, catalog, and analyze archaeological materials in a laboratory setting. Given the nature of the assemblage, this will include working with primarily animal remains from the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology collections. Additionally, students will work to sort, identify, and catalog previously unprocessed soil samples. At the end of the URAP, experienced students will understand the complexities of conducting museum based archaeological research and analyzing archaeological datasets. The goal of the URAP position is to prepare students for careers as museum, lab, and field archaeologists.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Gabriel Sanchez, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Qualifications: The student should be self-motivated, able to pay close attention to details, and able to work in collaboration with others. Background in anthropological archaeology, California archaeology, osteology, and artifact analysis is encouraged but not necessary for the position.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Closed (2) Restoring Indigenous Knowledge of Mutsun and Rumsen Peoples from Early 20th Century Ethnographic Field Notes

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the ethnologist John P. Harrington worked with descendant community members of Mutsun and Rumsen language speakers to record linguistic, ethnobiological, historical, and many other types of information. In total, Harrington's ethnographic materials from this region amount to over 75,000 pages of mostly hand-written text. Until recently, this material was difficult for contemporary members of these descendant communities to access because it was only available on microfilm in a few locations in the USA. These materials are now available in electronic format, but they are still difficult for both contemporary tribe members and researchers to use because they are in manuscript rather than digital text. Additionally, the text is recorded in a mixture of English, Californio Spanish, and native languages, making translation difficult. Since 2014, students at UC Berkeley have transcribed over 13,000 pages of the Harrington Notes.

This project aims to aid the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band in its cultural revitalization efforts, as well as to improve our understanding of traditional Native resource use, by translating and formatting these ethnographic field notes and incorporating them into a tribal publication, "Mutsun Ways," so that the information will be accessible to tribal members. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, a tribal organization that seeks to restore cultural knowledge and the traditional relationship of stewardship between Amah Mutsun people and their lands.

Only one position is available for this project.

Working with post-doctoral scholar Rob Cuthrell, the apprentice will be trained in translating and formatting the transcribed ethnographic field notes of John P. Harrington. The student will assist in preparing material for publication in the "Mutsun Ways" journal. During the semester, the student will have the opportunity to meet with members of the Amah Mutsun tribe to learn more about how this material is being used in cultural revitalization efforts.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rob Cuthrell, Post-Doc

Qualifications: Minimum time commitment for this project is 6 hours per week (2 URAP units). The applicant must know Spanish well, and native Spanish speakers are strongly encouraged to apply. Persistence, reliability, and ability to maintain focus on challenging tasks are necessary. Some familiarity with Native Californian cultures, colonial history of California, and/or California ecology is desirable, but not required.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Closed (3) Archaeological Laboratory Analysis of Native Californian Materials from the Central California Coast

Check back for status

Researchers in the California Archaeology Laboratory are continuing a long-term study investigating land stewardship practices of Native Californian peoples. The study involves collecting samples of archaeological biological materials (shell, animal, and plant remains) from a number of sites up to 6000 years old on the Central California Coast and analyzing these to understand how Native people used natural resources from several thousand years ago into the recent past. This semester, we will be working on sorting flotation materials from these sites that contain shell, lithics, bone, and other artifact types. We seek URAP students looking to learn about identification of these materials to assist in the lab work.

The minimum time commitment for this project is six hours per week.

Contact Rob Cuthrell ( if you have any questions prior to applying.

Students will assist graduate students in the California Archaeology Laboratory in sorting archaeological materials into specific categories (e.g., identifying different types of shellfish) and recording data on these materials onto standardized forms.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rob Cuthrell, Post-Doc

Qualifications: Students who participate should be interested in the archaeology / ecology of California. The work involves concentrating on a single task for two to three hours at a time, and so this work is not suitable for students who have trouble focusing on a task for extended periods. No specific prerequisite skills are required.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs