Databus Issue: 2004 2 04/01/2004
Spotlight On TechnologyJoyce Hinkson, Ed.D Consultant
Students Help Rewrite California History PDF
As part of their ongoing service commitment to their community, students in the environmental and spatial technology (EAST) class at Santa Ynez Valley Union High recently participated in a project that resulted in a discovery of historical significance. Dr. Mike Glassow, department chair of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, enthusiastically noted that the students are “well beyond the findings in the National Registry report.” Results garnered from this project, conducted at Mission Santa Ines, the nineteenth of 21 California missions established from 1769 to 1832, may well cause history to be rewritten if scholars agree with the findings.
In September 2003, Mike Loehr, who was responsible for documenting and helping to represent Mission Santa Ines when it was approved for National Historic Landmark District status, contacted the EAST class. Students were asked to assist archaeologists from Cal Poly in mapping the water system at Mission Santa Ines; something never previously accomplished. Prior to beginning the mapping project, students began researching the mission’s archives, databases, historical photos, and library collections, and by conducting interviews with mission historians. The next step was to map known aqueduct sites – most of which were rediscovered in 1980 when the area was developed for roads and housing units. Students, working in collaborative teams with various professionals and respected field experts, used GIS, GPS, animation, video, CAD, graphics and Web tools to map and create topographic representations of the area surrounding the mission. While mapping the known aqueduct sites, students discovered a previously unknown section of the buried aqueduct, including fragmentary evidence. This remarkable discovery was recorded and confirmed by several archaeologists. As EAST student Clay Garland observed, “Suddenly, history made sense and you could feel the connection to the past.”
As a result of the data extrapolation and summary of the Mission Santa Ines mapping project, EAST students, in conjunction with professional archaeologists, are writing a professional paper to be published in Pacific Archaeology Quarterly. The students have been invited to present their work at the California Missions Foundation Conference in San Luis Obispo as part of the Mission Santa Ines professional lecture series. Their work will be catalogued and become part of the mission’s permanent archives. The publicity generated from this project has been positive, profuse and continuous, uniting both school and community members.
Possibly the “biggest deal” to come out of this project (besides the wonderful learning experience and real connections to language arts, science, history/social science) is the fact that California history has the potential to be rewritten based on the students’ findings.
In 1821, Joseph Chapman built a fulling mill (a mill used to make wool cloth less abrasive and more comfortable) that could have used the aqueduct system the students successfully identified and mapped. If this is true, it predates the first recorded industrial application of such a system on the West Coast of the United States by over 25 years and thus, will, require an updating of the historical timeline for the area.
For a project such as this to be successful, administrative support is critical. Dr. Fred Van Leuven, superintendent of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District, and Norm Clevenger, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, were instrumental in helping pave the way through technical hurdles to support the students in their endeavors. Additional information regarding the Mission Santa Ines water system mapping project, may be obtained from Chip Fenenga, EAST Facilitator at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School at (805) 688-6487 or Fenenga@education.ucsb.edu.