University of Montana archaeologists unearth Buffalo Soldiers’ artifacts at Fort Missoula

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A team member works inside his excavation grid. Photo by Kelsey Jae Wardwell/Missoulian
A team member works inside his excavation grid. Photo by Kelsey Jae Wardwell/Missoulian

Summary of “UM archaeologists unearth Buffalo Soldiers’ artifacts at Fort Missoula

In the summer of 1888, the 25th Infantry arrived at Fort Missoula from their post in the Dakota Territory.

All 220 members of the unit were African-American.

Archaeologists and students from the University of Montana are currently excavating a midden deposit near the decommissioned fort. Led by Kelly Dixon, an associate professor of anthropology at UM, the project has already yielded promising results. The items discovered could help archaeologists better understand the life of “Buffalo Soldiers” in the late 1800s.

Artifacts include: a hair tonic bottle, helmet spike matching the uniform worn by the 25th infantry, toy fragments that suggest some of the men had their families living at the fort, old champagne bottles, stemware and elegant dinnerware, and an abundance of bovine bones.

Historical records point to a tranquil life at Fort Missoula. The fort was kept in immaculate condition and the only archaeological evidence of daily life has been found in the trash deposit.

Analysis of the artifacts will be completed later this year.

Read more: “UM archaeologists unearth Buffalo Soldiers’ artifacts at Fort Missoula

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