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February 16, 2022 25 mins

For its practitioners, archaeology can feel like it is unearthing events deep in the past … until it doesn’t. What is the experience of researchers who discover their life stories are tied to an archaeological site? Dr. Kisha Supernant and Lenora McQueen share their journeys to the unmarked graves of First Nations and Métis peoples and African American burial grounds, respectively, and how their connections to their ancestors transform their work.


  • (00:00:16) The Truth and Reconciliation Commission seeks to understand what happened at Indian residential schools.
  • (00:01:02) Dr. Kisha Supernat introduces her work as a Méthis archaeologist uncovering unmarked Indigenous graves at residential schools.
  • (00:03:34) Introduction.
  • (00:06:43) How Dr. Kisha locates unmarked graves.
  • (00:10:45) Lenora McQueen shares her search to unmarked African American burial grounds.
  • (00:12:23) The story of the Shockoe Hill African Burial Ground.
  • (00:15:58) Introducing heart-centered archaeology.
  • (00:23:41) Credits.


SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human, is produced by House of Pod and supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. SAPIENS is also part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library. This season was created in collaboration with the Indigenous Archaeology Collective and Society of Black Archaeologists, with art by Carla Keaton, and music from Jobii, _91nova, and Justnormal. For more information and transcriptions, visit


Additional Sponsors:

This episode was made possible by the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropological Archaeology and the Imago Mundi Fund at Foundation for the Carolinas.


Additional Resources:


Guests: Dr. Kisha Supernant is Métis/Papaschase/British and the director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta. Follow her on Twitter @ArchaeoMapper. 

Lenora McQueen is an educator, researcher, community historian, and advocate for the preservation and interpretation of African American historic sites in Virginia.

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