#3 Archaeological Research at CSU Chico: The Northeast Information System


Lisa Swillinger, assistant coordinator, Northeast information Center, answers one of the
dozens of calls requesting information on historic properties that comes in each day.
(photo Greg White)
The Anthropology Department's most frequent contact with the off-campus community is through the Northeast Information Center, Langdon 303. The center provides an on-campus workplace where, through internships and paid positions, students can learn firsthand about the treatment of historic and prehistoric properties via land use policies mandated every day at federal, state, and local levels. Historic and Native American properties are a big part of the North State's natural and social environments, and help us identify with our rural character and diverse cultural heritage. These properties are protected under executive and legislative acts, and the State of California has enacted implementing legislation (through the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA) that considers these properties to be among the environmental concerns afforded protection at the permitting and planning levels.

The Northeast Information Center was established in the early 1970s by its coordinator, Professor Makoto Kowta, Department of Anthropology. It is one of the original archaeological clearinghouses in the state and is the largest in terms of land area of the eleven centers now active in the State of California.

The center is fully within the auspices of CSU, Chico and the Department of Anthropology, but operates under an agreement with the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP). First and foremost, the center serves as a central clearinghouse for the storage of all information on known prehistoric and historic resources. The center also maintains a comprehensive library of historic and ethnographic sources covering Northeastern California, and a comprehensive file system of quadrangle maps which plot all known professional surveys and recorded sites. All of this information has to be stored for ready retrieval because the center's most demanding duty is to supply information on the location and content of historic and archaeological properties to the government, institutions, and individuals.

The Northeast Information Center covers the entire northeast one-quarter of the state. Assistant Coordinator Lisa Swillinger, M. A., Anthropology, is a master at managing the rush of submittals and requests received daily. The requests come from city, county, and state entities handling construction or other land use plans and permits covered by CEQA mandates or requiring Federal money or permits. These plans and permits must undergo review at the Information Center, which checks available records for the presence of known resources and evaluates the likelihood of discovery of prehistoric or historic cultural sites. The Northeast Information Center currently houses records of over 17,500 cultural sites and 5 to 10 percent of the area has been surveyed to date.

Kowta and Swillinger cite the fundamental role the Information Center has in providing training and jobs for Anthropology graduate students and undergraduates seeking the department's Cultural Resource Management credential. Of equal significance is the important role the center records have in enabling and enhancing historic and archeological research undertaken by CSU, Chico students, staff, and faculty as well as off-campus professionals.

For tour information, please call 898-4360.

Greg White, Anthropology, Archaeology Laboratory


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