Archaeologist wins history award

Dr. David S. Phelps, an East Carolina University professor emeritus and leading state expert on early Native Americans, has received a national award for his work in archaeology.

The American Association for State and Local History has named Phelps as a winner of one of the association’s annual Awards of Merit. The awards recognize achievement in the preservation and interpretation of local, state, provincial and regional history.

Phelps directs the Coastal Archaeology Office of the ECU Institute for Historical and Cultural Research and has conducted archaeology digs at many locations throughout the region. His research has focused on the villages and towns of the early Algonkian and Tuscarora Indians.

Before his retirement from the ECU Department of Anthropology faculty last year, Phelps directed ECU’s archaeology program that collected much of the information that is known about the life of these early people. Some of his findings include ancient dugout canoes, sites of prominent villages and thousands of artifacts connected with early life and religion.

Currently, he directs two important archaeology projects. One is on Hatteras Island near Buxton and is believed to be the capital of the Croatan Indians, a prominent tribe associated with the Carolina Algonkians. The Croatans played an important role in the period of initial English contact and colonization (1584 – 1587) in the New World.

The other project is in Greene County at the site of Neoheroka Fort. The fort was used by the Tuscarora Indians during their early 18th century war with the colonists.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history in the United States and Canada. The association publishes books and magazines and sponsors regional and national training workshops.

An awards banquet is scheduled for Oct. 3, in Denver. Phelps is one of 36 Awards of Merit recipients.