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Idaho Museum of Natural History to open two new exhibits June 8; Camas Prairie natural, cultural history explored & Crabtree featured

Posted June 6, 2012


The Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University will open two new exhibits – "Exploring the Camas Prairie" and "A Don Crabtree Retrospective" – on Friday, June 8.

The public exhibits will be open from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. on June 8. Regular Museum hours are 12:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. Admission is free, although contributions are welcome.

Through the "Exploring the Camas Prairie" exhibit, IMNH staff hope to show the importance of camas bulbs and their relationship to the lifestyles of Idaho's Native Peoples. Through discussions, concept mapping and storyboarding the IMNH has designed a display to interpret this story to Idaho's citizens. The display features plant specimens from the Ray J. Davis Herbarium with archaeological and ethnographic objects from IMNH collections.

Camas bulbs have been known as one of the most nutritious food staples of Idaho's Native Peoples, once supplying nearly 50 percent of their diet. Archaeological evidence documents the human utilization of the Camas Prairie to approximately 11,000 years ago. The camas bulb harvest became central to seasonal migrations, intertribal trade, social gatherings and traditional medical practices. Today, there are only between five and seven camas prairies survive in Idaho as protected conservation areas and the camas prairie as an important intermountain ecosystem.

"Don Crabtree: A Retrospective" celebrates the 100th birthday of an archeological pioneer in Idaho. Crabtree experimented and researched the problem surrounding how Idaho's prehistoric Native Peoples manufactured stone tools. Using clues found in archaeological excavations, Crabtree spent years reconstructing the lost art of tool knapping, discovering the techniques used thousands of years earlier by Idaho's Native Peoples.

Crabtree's studies help researchers learn how artifacts may have been made by prehistoric peoples. Crabtree's interest in the fluted Folsom point led to his experiments in replicating stone tools. Crabtree also wrote about the practice of heat-treating fine-grained stone, the raw materials needed by toolmakers. Prior to Crabtree's work, prehistoric stone tools were classified by shape and assumed function. As an outgrowth of his publication and fieldwork, today's researchers take into consideration the character of flake scars, features of tool margins, and raw materials in their analyses of stone tools.For more information on the IMNH visit http://imnh.isu.edu/ or call 208-282-3168.

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