Faculty Research and Current Projects

Northwest Colorado Paleoindian Study

  • Funded by the Bureau of Land Management under a five year Assistance Agreement (2010-2014) for $27,000. Researchers: Robert Brunswig and Andrew Creekmore (Anthropology) and Frederic Sellet (Anthropology, University of Kansas).
  • The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) began a preliminary study of the Cathedral Buttes (5MF625) and 5MF645 Paleoindian sites on Bureau of Land Management Lands, Little Snake Field Office, in 2009.  UNC archaeologists analyzed artifacts from the Cathedral Buttes site, conducted a local geomorphology study, radiocarbon-dated a hearth from 5MF645 and provided detailed drawings and descriptions of the Cathedral Butte artifacts. The project expands Paleoindian site studies on BLM-administered lands in Northwest Colorado to better understand and document Paleoindian cultural and natural landscapes from ca. 11,200-7,500 years ago. On-going archaeological and geological investigations are being conducted at a stratified early Paleoindian site, Kib-Ridge Yampa with Folsom, and Late Paleoindian cultural deposits.  The project fosters university-federal agency-and public engagement opportunities and collaborations for better understanding of Colorado cultural resources and histories of the state’s earliest populations. At the same time, it is actively contributing to more informed management of cultural heritage resources on BLM-administered lands in Northwestern Colorado. The project was re-focused in 2010 to concentrate on the Kib-Ridge Yampa site, a site with deep Paleoindian camp deposits dating as early as 10,600 years ago and associated with the Folsom culture, Current research at the site emphasizes collaborative research involving UNC, the University of Kansas, and the Kramer Archaeology Odyssey Endowment. As of 2015, the project was administratively transferred to the University of Kansas under the direction of Dr. Fred Sellet, Associate Professor of Anthropology, who now serves as principal investigator. Dr. Robert Brunswig, UNC Professor Emeritus and Research Fellow, continues his association with the project as a co-Principal Investigator. Project field investigations, including continued site excavations, are planned for summer 2016.

North Park Cultural Landscapes Project

  • Funded by the Bureau of Land Management under a five year Assistance Agreement (2010-2016) for $98,000, extended in 2014 through 2016. Researchers: Robert Brunswig, Andrew Creekmore (Anthropology, James Doerner (UNC Geography & GIS), and Frederic Sellet (Anthropology, University of Kansas).
  • This project began in 2003 with year-to-year Bureau of Land Management (BLM) funding and advanced to a five-year Assistance Agreement in 2010 between the BLM and the University of Northern Colorado to continue archaeological and other related multidisciplinary research programs as part of the long-term North Park Cultural Landscapes Project.  The objective of the  Agreement was for the university to gather basic scientific data regarding the earliest inhabitants of North America through: cultural survey, site recordation and analysis; site testing, excavation, field and laboratory analysis; ethnographic studies with the Northern Utes; and to provide  avocational and student learning opportunities; to provide public involvement and participation; to foster opportunities for university students to learn the art and science of archaeology and earn undergraduate degrees; to provide post graduate students opportunities to complete advanced degrees; to involve other scientific disciplines in analysis and synthesis; to contribute to our understanding of Early Americans through participation and dissemination of information through anthropological conferences, book and monograph publications, newspapers and tourist/visitor publications; preparation of interim and final reports, and articles for professional journals and to highlight the historic resources of North Park Valley in Colorado Southern Rocky Mountains. Since 2003, the project has surveyed nearly 3,000 acres and excavated several sites dating as early as 9,500 years in the Colorado mountain valley of North Park, including detailed documentation of multiple prehistoric game drives. The North Park Project’s BLM Assistance Agreement was extended for 2015 through June of 2016 and a new five-year Assistance Agreement for five-year base funding of $90,000,planned for implementation in fall 2015, is expected to extend BLM base funding for the project through 2020.

GIS Mapping of Cultural, Paleoclimatic and Paleoenvironmental Landscapes in Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Funded by the National Park Service for $11,128 (2011-2013). Researchers:  Robert Brunswig (Anthropology), James Doerner, and David Diggs (Geography).
  • This project builds on more than a decade of related research projects by the investigators and other researchers to enhance and update existing Geographic Information System (GIS) databases and modeling projects for prehistoric and early historic archeological sites and assemble new data layers on climate change variables based on pre-existing and one new sediment coring sites and recent ice patch climate evidence. A revised cultural GIS database, natural, geological, and hydrological GIS layers, and supplemental information from ice patch research are being combined in an initial, pilot phase GIS project designed to simulate human land use patterns within the park’s environmental zones from the end of the last Ice Age to early historic times. GIS simulation of human occupation and paleoclimate patterns will refine understanding of the park’s cultural history and provide proxy data for better interpreting potential effects of emerging climatic change on park environments and its modern-day human visitors and full-time residents. Continuation of the project beyond its 2013 initial funding end date involves multi-disciplinary Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling of long term archaeological, climate, and paleoecosystem change, including tracking tree-line shifts through time through sediment core analyses of high-altitude ponds and fens and use of ancient tree-remains in found in glaciers and ice patches in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Colorado Front Range.

Sacred Landscapes of Rocky Mountain National Park and Beyond

  • Funded by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management through multiple grants from 2001 through the present. ~$30,000 in external funding to date. Researchers:  Robert Brunswig (Anthropology) and David Diggs (Geography & GIS).
  • The Sacred Landscapes Project began as a long-term research begun in 2000 into the archaeology and ethno-history of Native American sacred places through the application of GIS modeling of geographic distributions of those ethnographically and archeologically identified spiritual places and ritual features within Rocky Mountain National Park. In 2003, documentation of Native American sacred places was extended to the nearby mountain valleys of North Park and Middle Park where rock features used for prayer, ritual, and ceremonies associated with seasonal changes were marked by astronomical alignments designed to designate the timing of spring and fall equinoxes and summer and winter solstices Project research has been dissemination by numerous reports, professional publications, and conference papers and proceedings articles over the years. Both field and GIS modeling research continue today along with on-going field survey programs in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 

The Dearfield Dream Project

  • UNC Researchers: George Junne (Africana Studies), Robert Brunswig and Andrew Creekmore (Anthropology), Rob Reinsvold (Biological Sciences), Jay Trask (Michener Library Archives), and Matthew Downey (Social Sciences).  Non-UNC Project Partners: The Black American West Museum (Denver), Weld County, Greeley Museums, Colorado Preservation, Inc., Colorado State University Office of Undergraduate Research and Artistry, Texas A&M University, and the National Society of Landscape Architects (Colorado Chapter).
  • The Dearfield Dream Project is a collaborative, multidisciplinary research program which builds on earlier work accomplished by the Black American West Museum and scholars from the Greeley Museums, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado (Boulder), Colorado State University, a number of earlier grant-funded private historical resource consultants, and others. Intended to continue over the next several years, project researchers plan to conduct archaeological, historical, and environmental studies on the early 20th Century African-American colony of Dearfield, located 25 miles east of Greeley, Colorado. Project collaborators are conducting new field (archaeological), laboratory, archival, and historical document and photographic studies to generate new knowledge and assemble a master archival data base on Dearfield's social, economic, political, and environmental history. The resulting data base, publications, and  public and professional presentations has established a strong foundation for future studies of the site and its role in Colorado, regional, and national history, emphasizing its historical relevance in better understanding social, economic, and political discrimination and environmental [“dust-bowl” climate change] issues so important to today’s world.

The Tatra National Park Cultural Landscape Archaeology Project

  • UNC Researchers: Robert Brunswig (Anthropology), Michael Kimball (Anthropology), and James Doerner (Geography & GIS).
  • Development of the Tatra National Park Project began several years ago (2009) and, after several years of ground-work, the project is anticipated to officially start in summer 2017. The project is based in a long-term sister park agreement between the Rocky Mountain National Park and Poland’s Tatra National Park in the Western Carpathian Mountains. Initial planning for an archaeological survey program in Tatra National Park began with a Fulbright Scholar visit by Robert Brunswig (Anthropology Emeritus Professor & Research Fellow) in fall 2014 to the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. Further plans and arrangements for a joint field program in Tatra National Park with Dr. Professor Pawel Valde-Nowak, specialist in European mountain archaeology and Associate Director, Jagiellonian Institute of Archaeology, will take place in fall-winter of 2016-2017 through a visiting professorship by Dr. Brunswig. Current plans call for the project to include con-current research in Rocky Mountain National Park and Bureau of Land Management lands in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and involving exchanges of faculty, students, and park staff from the two countries.

Click here for information on Dr. Creekmore's research.

  • Study Abroad