A team of archaeologists is combing Nebraska’s flooded farm fields, hoping they find nothing at all.
Technically, they’re searching sandy and debris-laden fields for Native American pottery, remnants of pioneer settlements or anything else that might have been uncovered by this spring’s floodwaters. Ideally, however, they will come up empty-handed.
“We want to find something, but we don’t,” said Kaity Ulewicz, one of the archaeologists. “If we find something, it’s a lot harder for the farmers to get their money.”
History Nebraska built a six-member team to handle the huge influx of site surveys required to get farmers aid money in the aftermath of the flooding. Many farms require clearance that the site is not of historical significance before they can receive funding from the Farm Service Agency to rebuild or restore their farms.
The team, led by site supervisor Ulewicz, began visiting farms June 12.
“Because we didn’t have anybody on staff, the onus was going to be on the farmers to hire their own archaeologists,” said Jill Dolberg, deputy state historic preservation officer. “We just thought maybe this was some way we could fill in and help a bit.”
Dolberg has set aside about $180,000 to fund the team, using money that was left over from another project that fell through. She plans to use the team until at least Sept. 1, possibly longer, depending on need.