Digging Up Kisatchie's History - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Digging Up Kisatchie's History

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KISATCHIE NATIONAL FOREST - If you just take a look around Cenla, you can see plenty of history. But if you dig a little--literally--you can find even more.

That's exactly what some amateur archaeologists are doing out in the Kisatchie National Forest this week. News Channel 5's Kathleen Witte put on her boots and dug up a story.

Stephen Waylett came all the way from Idaho to get his hands dirty in the Kisatchie National Forest.

Stephen Waylett, Passport in Time participant: "It's the excitement of finding this stuff that's basically been lost, and returning it to our knowledge base."

He's working for "Passport in Time," a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program with the U.S. Forest Service. This is Waylett's 98th Passport in Time trip since he retired, and it's one of several he's done in Louisiana.

Waylett: "You see America doing this. I call this backwater America. Literally here. Lots of deep water America. You just don't see this country unless you get off the interstate."

On this little island deep in the Kisatchie woods, participants from all over the country are excavating a Caddo Indian site that has traces of human activity from up to 4000 years ago.

Velicia Bergstrom, Kisatchie National Forest service: "We've even found evidence of archaic folks being here. So it's archaic through civil war time."

The amateur archaeologists are finding mostly pieces of pottery and traces of housing from when this was a working salt lick about 1500 years ago. And this evidence will help put this island on the national register of historic sites.

Bergstrom: "These good people are helping us collect the data that we need to ensure that it gets puts on there right."

Velicia Bergstrom says, it's the hands-on way to discover the past.

Bergstrom: "You know how when you go to school and you're taught history, and the history is the written word from that time period on? This is the unwritten word. And to be able to excavate and see what kind we can find, look at it, and put the pieces of the puzzle back together, it helps tell the story a little bit better."

Stephen Waylett says studying the past is the key to enjoying his present--and he has no plans to quit in the future.

Waylett: "Loved it from when I was eight years old. But it wasn't what I did for a living. So when I retired, I said, wonder if I would still enjoy doing that. You bet."

Everything collected this week is bagged and labeled and taken the U.S. Forest Service's labs for archaeological testing.

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