About the Project

The 2010-2013 archaeological investigation at The Dry incorporated multiple lines of evidence to learn as much as possible about what life was like for the African American homesteaders who made The Dry their home.  Information gathered from archaeological surveying and excavation, combined with descendant oral history interviews and documentary sources to paint a more complete picture of life at The Dry.

The project is made possible through collaboration between the University of Denver and Avalon Archaeology, LLC (now defunct), and was generously funded by the University of Denver and the Colorado State Historical Fund.  Special thanks to Southeast Colorado Resource Conservation and Development for their assistance.

Team Members:

Michelle Slaughter

Michelle Slaughter, R.P.A. (Michelle Slaughter at michelle_slaughter@alpinearchaeology.com) is a historical archaeologist and former principal of Avalon Archaeology, LLC, a woman-owned, small business that she operated 2007-2016.  Today she is the Regional Operations Manager for Alpine Archaeological Consultants.

She is proud to have worked at eight of Colorado’ s Most Endangered Places, six of which have been saved: the Bradford-Perley House in Highlands Ranch, the Granada War Relocation Center (formerly known as Camp Amache) in southeast Colorado, the CF&I Plant in Pueblo, 4 Bar 4 Ranch in Fraser, the Paris Mill in Park County, and the Hutchinson Homestead in Salida.  She has conducted projects in various cultural/geographical areas across Colorado, as well as Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Northern and Central California, Washington State, Peru and England.

Funded by a Colorado State Historical Fund grant, she started work at The Dry in 2010, and was constantly fascinated and excited about all that they learned during this very important project. Her favorite aspects of being an archaeologist are researching new places and people, and being able to travel and talk to people in-depth about their community’s or family’s history.

M. Dores Cruz

Dr. Cruz was a member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Denver from 2009–2014 and worked on the Dry project from 2010–2013. Ms. Cruz has since left DU.

Jennifer Moon

Jennifer is a graduate student at the University of Denver getting her degree in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology.  As an undergraduate she double majored in German and Archaeology at Baylor University.  She has done fieldwork through Baylor at a prehistoric Native American campsite, and through the Texas Archaeological Society at a historic military depot.  Her work right now at The Dry is focused on the development of the identity of an African-American homesteader in terms of community, gender, and race, and how that manifests itself not only in the material objects, but also in the use of space.  She will be using ground-penetrating radar for this project, which transmits signals into the ground that detect subsurface features without excavation.  After graduating she hopes to work for a few years before pursuing her doctorate and becoming a professor.

Mary Connell

Mary is a graduate student at the University of Denver, getting her Masters degree in Anthropology, with a concentration in Archaeology.  Her current research is focused on the town of Dearfield, an early 20th-century black town in northeastern Colorado.  She hopes her work at The Dry will give her a better understanding of life on the plains for these black pioneers.

Jess Unger

Jess is a graduate student at Brown University, working on her Master’s degree in Public Humanities. As an undergraduate she studied historical archaeology, with a focus on African American life during the colonial period. She is interested in exploring the ways that anthropology, archaeology, and history intersect in the public interpretation of the African American experience.  Her career goal is to find new ways to challenge the public in their understanding of the past, by assisting with the development of critical thinking skills and encouraging social justice.  Jess has worked at historic house museums, anthropology museums, and recently assisted in developing exhibit content for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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