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Held-in-Trust Collections

The Burke Museum Archaeology Department curates collections for a number of government agencies including the Port of Seattle, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Puyallup Tribe of Indians and many others. Some of these collections are stored at the Burke only temporarily while others have been deposited for long-term care. These collections are not owned by the Burke Museum, but most are managed to allow full research access.

Examples of Held-in-Trust Collections

US Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, Alaska
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Anchorage, Alaska curates several small collections from the Aleutian Islands at the Burke Museum. Some of these collections have been at the Burke Museum for over 60 years. In 2002, it came to our attention that over 200 objects curated at the Burke Museum were collected illegally from islands under the jurisdiction of the USFWS. As such, the artifacts are owned by the federal government and all people of the United States, not just those in the State of Washington. The USFWS funded the rehousing and cataloging of the collections, making it more accessible to interested researchers. 

The National Park Service San Juan Collection
The Burke Archaeology Division is presently curating a large collection owned by the National Park Service. These materials were excavated over the past 55 years from the San Juan Island National Historic Park by archaeologists affiliated with the University of Washington. Most recently, Dr. Julie Stein led archaeological field schools at the English Camp site from 1985 to 1991. A book by Stein based upon this work, entitled Exploring Coast Salish Prehistory: The Archaeology of San Juan Island was published in 2000 by University of Washington press.

Duwamish No. 1 Site
Duwamish No. 1 Site (45-KI-23), a late prehistoric shell midden encompasses approximately 60 acres bordering the west bank of the Duwamish waterway. This site provides important evidence about the past environment and tectonic activity of the Duwamish River valley, as well as the cultural heritage of local contemporary Native Americans. The University of Washington’s Office of Public Archaeology, conducted archaeological investigations at Duwamish No. 1 in 1976 and 1978. In 1986, URS and BOAS returned to the site to complete further excavation as part of the Renton Effluent Transfer System project. The collection includes artifacts from stone and bone, a single ceramic sherd (uncommon for this area), and bulk samples of shell, soil and stone.

In 1987 the Burke Museum was contracted by the Port of Seattle to store and provide access to the 149 cubic feet collection. 4Culture provided funding in 2008 to purchase supplies to rehouse and improve collection access. Work conducted through this grant included creation of an electronic catalog and complete collection reorganization, two steps paramount to improving access to this important regional collection.