TCNJ Magazine - Spring 2016

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32 SPRING 2016 How did each of you develop this interest in the skills and tools of primitive humans? BILL: It was really my father who instilled it. He had me out hunting, fishing, trapping, and camping from when I was young. As a child, I fell in love with this idea of reconnecting with my ancestors. As I started to grow into this on my own, it was a desire to reconnect with my food; hunting, fishing, and trapping as a way to reconnect on the most basic level with what I was putting into my mouth. That led me to wanting to understand how [early humans] did it, and that's what led me to archaeology. DOUG: I grew up in South Jersey, and I always had an interest in older, more traditional tools [and] skills, from the Stone Age through the Iron Age; there was something that just really drew me in. I also grew up spending a lot of time outside and developed a comfort in the outdoors. As I got older, I started asking some questions: Where do we come from? What's that truth out there? And then I wanted to be a little more honest about where my food came from. One of the first things I did was call up a slaughterhouse, and they let me on the floor to watch what was happening. That was a profound experience, and that pushed me a little further down that path. It seems you, Bill, come to this more from an academic perspective, while Doug's experience seems immersive. But listening to you, I get the impres- sion there's a lot of overlap in how each of you approaches this subject. BILL: I think there's more in common. If it was just from an academic perspec- tive, I wouldn't be as interested in it as I am. When [my wife and I] started having kids, I became much more focused on doing this for them: influencing their diets, understanding how we make food choices at home. Beyond that, it's about taking these skills and using them to better understand the archaeological record. DOUG: I would definitely second that. I work with archaeologists here in Colorado, and personally, I think of myself as a teacher, not a businessman. How would you describe the people who sign up for your classes? DOUG: A lot of people come to me looking for what they call survival skills. But I think what they're looking for is a deeper connection. BILL: These people want to reconnect with something—with their past, with their environment, or even with themselves. For example, I regularly conduct urban foraging tours in Washington, D.C., and people sign up because they want to take more control over their food sources and supplement their diets with nutritious wild plants that grow in the city. However, they also leave with a much deeper appreciation of and connection with their local environment. DOUG: I'd agree. It's about that relationship with the natural world— the first time you see somebody make fire by rubbing two sticks together, this look people get in their eyes. It's an experience people don't have when they can put their dinner in the microwave. There's an extinction of experience today. We talk a lot about that; people lack experience with real things. Ideally, a conversation between Doug Hill '04 and Bill Schindler '00 would take place outside, next to an expertly built campfire—perhaps gathered using implements they'd made themselves. Instead, given the 1,600 or so miles between them, we got these two primitive technology experts together in a decidedly non- primitive fashion: a conference call via iPhone. Hill and Schindler aren't stuck in the past, but they immerse themselves in it as much as possible—both in their careers and their daily lives. Hill lives in Lafayette, Colorado, where he's the founder and director of Gone Feral, a school that teaches primitive skills—from building tools out of stone to making containers from animal hides. Schindler is an associate professor of anthropology and archaeology at Washington College in Maryland; he also cohosts The Great Human Race, a show on the National Geographic Channel for which he travels the world recreating the lives of primitive humans. Experts in a tiny field, they've met once, briefly, but never had the chance to trade stories. Til now.

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