Dear Friends of Southwest Archaeology Today,
I hope this finds you well. My week was brightened by another bit of good news from a Preservation Archaeology Field School alumnus: Kiley Stoj (2018) was awarded a Fulbright, as reported by SUNY Cortland. Congratulations, Kiley.
As I write this Tuesday afternoon, we’re preparing to debut Archaeology Café Online. It came together after we published last week’s edition of this newsletter, but you should have received a follow-up email inviting you to join us. We’ll have a link to the video of Chaco Scholar Paul Reed’s presentation in next week’s edition.
An email I received from the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development outlined preliminary findings of research on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the economies and governments of the country’s 574 federally recognized American Indian nations. Here is a letter the Project sent to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin summarizing the findings and recommendations for allocation of response funds. It opens as a PDF.
I’ve seen some of my friends posting pictures of jigsaw puzzles they are working on. Our friend Michelle Turner, a researcher with Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, made two digital puzzles from her images of the Chimney Rock great house. You can check those out at her blog. I’m more of a bird watcher, so I close by sharing this footage, tweeted by the Grand Canyon Conservancy, of a condor soaring over the canyon.
Please take care. We’re thinking of you.
William H. (Bill) Doelle
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Indigenous Landscapes of the Grand Canyon
National parks, like federal agencies at large, are mandated to consult with local tribes when decisions affect them, but such consultations can be cursory. Grand Canyon is among a small group of parks that are going deeper, said Ernie Atencio, NPCA’s southwest regional director, by “really engaging in meaningful relationships with tribes that care about and are connected to those landscapes.” https://www.npca.org/articles/2480-a-new-view – National Parks Conservation Association
Last year, the park celebrated its centennial. There were special events, but I doubt you heard anything about us, the Havasupai — the Guardians of the Grand Canyon. You may not even know about Canyon Mine, the proposed uranium mine that threatens Havasu Creek, the entire water supply of the Havasupai Reservation. Historical erasure has made us invisible. Now, our very survival is at stake, and we are asking for your help. https://bit.ly/2Vt2tpr – Commentary by Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss in High Country News
Jim Enote on Zuni Traditions and Coping
To find calm during this time of uncertainty, Enote has been looking back on other lessons about the natural world he learned from his great-grandparents, who survived measles and smallpox outbreaks, and the flu pandemic of 1918. “I learned a lot from them,” he says. “They grew up in a deep way where they were unencumbered with the kind of knowledges that we have now. And so there’s things that they learned as being deep Zuni that they passed on to me.” https://wbur.fm/2RDafMo – WBUR (NPR)
Commentary and Analysis: What’s Happening with Bears Ears
In my day-to-day life, scarcely a week goes by without someone asking me a version of one of these questions: What’s going on with Bears Ears? What about the lawsuits? What can be done? I get these questions over email, on social media, even in person at the grocery store. So what’s new? In February, the Interior Department released a new management plan for the shrunken monument. Sadly, the plan fails to meet even the minimum legal standard for how national monuments must be managed. https://bit.ly/2VvOjDY – Tim Peterson at the Grand Canyon Trust
Commentary and Analysis: Department of Interior Policy Actions during the Crisis
A new analysis by the Center for Western Priorities finds that in the month after President Trump signed the first emergency coronavirus bill, the Interior Department took dozens of policy actions unrelated to COVID-19, moving ahead with unfettered oil and gas leasing, removing protections for endangered wildlife, and expanding mining operations across the country. https://bit.ly/3emNHJt – Aaron Weiss at the Center for Western Priorities
Conservation Easements and the West
Turecek and six other local ranchers have signed legally binding agreements with land trusts and government agencies to permanently restrict most development on their property. Collectively, the agreements are protecting some 86 square miles of shortgrass prairie considered among the world’s most endangered ecosystems. Across the West, a growing number of ranchers and farmers are seeking such “conservation easements” to stave off the big-box stores, self-storage complexes and residential construction consuming millions of acres of fertile open space. https://wapo.st/2XAkB3m – Washington Post
Editors’ note: Conservation easements are a key element of Archaeology Southwest’s Landscape and Site Preservation Program. We have a primer on our website here.
We Have Been Here Before: A History of Epidemics in Southern Arizona
Epidemics of communicable diseases have a long history in southern Arizona. We don’t know if they occurred before Europeans came here. But once the Spanish arrived in what is now Mexico, Old World diseases spread northward and dramatically affected Native American communities. Spanish-era Mission records reveal that numerous epidemics took place between 1723 and 1826, killing hundreds of people. Most of these epidemics were measles and smallpox, but one in 1743 included symptoms of “yellow vomit, urine retention, and swollen throat.” At this time, Native Americans had no acquired immunity to these introduced diseases. More detailed information on these epidemics can be found on the Mission 2000 database. https://bit.ly/3c4nlKu – Homer Thiel at the Field Journal (Desert Archaeology, Inc.)
Reflections on the Relevance of Weeds
As the world struggles to maintain normalcy in the face of a global pandemic, I am drawn to the “weeds” in our backyard. I’ve heard that “a weed is a plant with a bad press agent” (agreed), that a limited number of weeds such as “Kudzu” and “tumbleweed” are going to “take over the earth” (maybe/maybe not), and that waging war on weeds is a battle worth fighting (doubtful…as the movie Jurassic Park pointed out, “Nature will always find a way”). But, as an archaeobotanist (paleoethnobotanist) who studies plant parts from archaeological sites, I offer an alternative perspective on weeds, using two examples of weedy plants currently thriving in the vacant yards and alleyways of Tucson, Arizona: native tansy mustard and historically introduced cheeseweed. https://bit.ly/2V6ThrP – Karen Adams at the Preservation Archaeology blog
Focus on the Field Crew: Keahna Owl
Keahna: I definitely believe that Native communities should have a bigger role in interpreting their own histories and culture because they’ve lived it. They’ve lived the culture and they are just better able to share their worldview. So, Native communities working with archaeologists, they should be able to interpret things better so that everybody understands more and not…so our history is not told from an outsider’s perspective. It should be everybody’s perspective. https://bit.ly/3bm4avP – Aaron Wright interview with Keahna Owl at the Preservation Archaeology blog
Online Resources, Events, and Opportunities
Editors’ note: Please keep sharing these with us, and we will keep helping to get the word out. Our inbox is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center (VVAC) has posted video of a recent presentation by Laurie Webster, “Latest Findings from the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project.” Laurie is a leading expert on ancestral Pueblo perishable materials, especially woven objects and textiles, and she consults with Crow Canyon on the perishable materials encountered during the Center’s excavations. In 2011 she initiated the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project to document the large collections of perishable artifacts recovered from southeastern Utah during the 1890s. The video opens at VVAC’s YouTube channel, where you’ll find other presentations: https://youtu.be/QbWfchyeBr8.
Another YouTube channel to check out is that of our friend, potter Andy Ward. “Andy Ward’s Ancient Pottery” has lots of videos about many aspects of ancient and traditional pottery-making: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_3BTjvtaAsCwfwjQDSqFTQ.
Facebook Live—Ask A Ranger, Friday, April 17, at 10:00 a.m. PDT/MST. Is there anything you would like to know about the Grand Canyon? This is your chance to ask a ranger! Park rangers will be answering questions sent to us by students in this half-hour live program. We love questions on Grand Canyon’s ecology, geology, and human history, as well as life and work in the national park. Parents and teachers: this is a wonderful opportunity to bring your students to the Grand Canyon on a virtual field trip! Submitting questions: Email your questions to us by Thursday, April 16, at 10:00 a.m. MST. How to access: The program will be broadcast live on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/GrandCanyonNationalPark/.
Our friends at the Arizona State Museum have a wealth of quality content online. ASM recently posted a link to this digital exhibit on a pair of ancient Pueblo flutes from a cave that became known in English as Broken Flute Cave: https://bit.ly/3ceraws.
We’re happy to help get the word out. Please submit news, publication announcements, and other resources to this link for consideration: https://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/submit-to-sat/