It’s Tuesday afternoon, and I’m getting ready to moderate our second Archaeology Café Online. Tonight’s program will be with John Welch, who directs Archaeology Southwest’s Landscape and Site Protection Program, and our honored guest, Octavius Seowtewa of Zuni Pueblo. John and Octavius will be speaking about the ancestral Pueblo sites Kinishba and Casa Malpais.
We’ll have a link to the video of John and Octavius’s presentation in next week’s edition. Meanwhile, you can check out supplemental materials related to the presentation, including a free download of the issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine on Kinishba.
I’ll be frank, friends: there is a lot of frustrating news about public lands policies in this week’s edition of Southwest Archaeology Today. But there are also opportunities to take action. We’re committed to keeping you informed, and we’re committed to fair and open public comment periods—when danger has passed.
Now for more positive notes.
In remembrance and reciprocation for the Choctaw Nation’s support during the Great Famine 173 years ago, Irish citizens have been donating to the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund. The relationship between Ireland and the Choctaw has been reaffirmed through state visits, a monumental public sculpture, and a scholarship program. Powerful.
And here is soothing and delightful audio-visual of canyon tree frogs singing amid the waterfalls of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains, posted to Twitter by writer and photographer Russ McSpadden.
Keep well, everyone. We’re thinking of you.
William H. (Bill) Doelle
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Continuing Coverage: Interior Moves Public Meetings Online, Does Not Postpone Deadlines
After more than a decade of planning and protests, U.S. land managers have crafted a proposal for how to manage oil and gas development across a wide swath of northwestern New Mexico that includes a national park and areas held sacred by Native American tribes. The clock began ticking in February when the Bureau of Land Management gave people 90 days to review the proposal and offer comments. Then came the pandemic. In recent weeks, life for many has taken an unexpected turn — especially for tribal communities that have been most effected by the coronavirus outbreak. Pueblos in New Mexico have imposed curfews, while the Navajo Nation has opted for tough restrictions and weekend lockdowns in hopes of stemming the increase of coronavirus cases. https://bit.ly/3fqJx3G – Indian Country Today/Associated Press
Archaeologist Paul Reed, a Chaco scholar with Archaeology Southwest, said the video platform BLM and the Bureau of Indian Affairs planned to use had limitations on the number of participants and would place limits on questions asked about the plans. He also questioned whether the virtual meetings met National Environmental Policy Act requirements. “With oil prices as low as they are now, now would not seem to be the right time to rush a plan into place,” Reed said. https://bit.ly/2yze3YL – Albuquerque Journal
Commentaries: Online Meetings Are Insufficient, Unfair to Tribes
Today U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined Tribal leaders and other experts on a press conference call urging the Trump administration to extend the period for public input on the controversial draft Farmington Resource Management Plan Amendment – which includes the Interior Department’s preferred alternative to open up more areas around Chaco Culture National Historical Park to oil and gas drilling. The call follows BLM’s April 29 announcement that it would proceed with “virtual” public meetings and failed to grant more time to participate to Northwest New Mexico communities that often lack adequate broadband and are being hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Editors’ note: An audio file and partial transcript are also available at this link. https://bit.ly/2W19MGg – tomudall.senate.gov
As the former N.M. state director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), I am worried about Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s decision not to allow an extension or postponement of the public comment period for a significant land-use planning process and other activities that were in the works prior to the pandemic. This includes a recently released draft plan amendment for northwestern New Mexico, the area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This plan has generated significant interest over the years from a wide variety of people and groups, in particular the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG). The pueblos are not supportive of the approach DOI has proposed, which could allow further oil and gas leasing and drilling near Chaco Canyon. https://bit.ly/2KZHQfQ – Jesse Juen op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal
Commentary: Federal Plans Threaten Public Lands in the West
These BLM plans continue a recent trend of significantly reducing protections for longstanding Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACECs), places where special management is needed to protect important historic, cultural, scenic, or fish and wildlife resources. Further, these plans, as approved by the BLM, would safeguard just 0.03% of the lands that the agency identified as possessing wilderness characteristics—natural places that provide excellent opportunities for solitude or primitive, unconfined recreation. https://bit.ly/3dixILe – Ken Rait at the Pew Charitable Trusts
Editors’ note: The Conservation Lands Foundation has created a form and commentary to help you contact your congressional delegation about suspending policy changes on public lands during this national emergency: https://www.conservationlands.org/suspend_policy_changes_on_public_lands.
National Parks to Reopen in Phases
The plan is part of a phased approach to opening national parks after President Trump pushed last month for sites to reopen. The opening of the Everglades comes as states, including Florida, are gradually starting to restart their economies in the hopes that coronavirus infections have peaked. But public health experts are raising concerns that an influx of guests to parks could lead to increased infections while making it harder to track the virus as out-of-state visitors arrive. https://bit.ly/2WBGLjQ – The Hill
Commentaries: Concerns about Reopening Parks
For federal facilities such as parks to reopen, guidelines outlined by the Office of Management and Budget would require a downward trend of positive COVID-19 cases for at least 14 days. Parks would also need adequate hospital facilities nearby, robust testing for local healthcare workers, precautions for staff who are considered vulnerable to the virus, and facility screening. https://bit.ly/2W3Znts – Theresa Pierno at the National Parks Conservation Association
What would make me feel safe going into work? At the visitors centers, put tape on the ground to tell people where to form lines and how far apart to stand. Encourage people to wait outside to talk to a park ranger, or set up info tables outdoors so we’re less confined. …But honestly? If you want to help national parks right now, don’t go to national parks. https://bit.ly/2W4lZtT – Anonymous ranger as recounted to Ashlea Halpern at Condé Nast Traveler
News Roundup on Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante
In the midst of the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, our partners continue to make moves on the ground to safeguard our special wild places. Today, we bring you updates from two treasured places that have remained at the heart of the national monuments conversation: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. So what’s new? And what can you do? https://bit.ly/35yd33f – Monuments for All
Focus on the Field Crew: Jason Andrews
“I think that’s very important from an archaeological standpoint for our tribe. We’re putting a seal of approval on it, basically, you know, confirming everything that our elders tell us, these stories. It’s an awesome thing to be part of, to acknowledge and to see. Okay, yeah, these stories our elders are telling us are true because I’ve seen it.” https://bit.ly/2YENsnU – Aaron Wright interview with Jason Andrews at the Preservation Archaeology blog
Commentary: Anthropologist Explains Social Importance of Virus Testing
These patterns illustrate that when people cannot “see” a danger, they fill the void with their own theories and interpretations, which can have a direct impact on needed interventions. It is easier for people to comply with orders and recommendations if the threat of the virus is more tangible. That is what community-wide testing can offer. https://bit.ly/35yOGSZ – Kristen Hedges at Sapiens
Publication Announcement: Tewa Worlds
Tewa Worlds: An Archaeological History of Being and Becoming in the Pueblo Southwest, by Samuel Duwe. University of Arizona Press. https://uapress.arizona.edu/book/tewa-worlds
Publication Announcement: The Persistence of Plastering Technology
Adams, Jenny L., and Amir Saed Mucheshi, “The persistence of plastering technology: Defining plastering stones as a distinctive handstone category.” Journal of Archaeological Science Reports Vol. 31, June 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102344
University of Utah Press Sale
The University of Utah Press is holding an online sale on their archaeology books. Use the code UUSAA20 at checkout to receive a 35% discount on their books. Sale goes until May 30. Here is a list of books on sale: https://uofupress.lib.utah.edu/?s=UUSAA20. Email Hannah New at email@example.com with any questions.
Online Resources, Events, and Opportunities to Help
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 JSW Radio Hour brings the voices of researchers, educators, activists and community members working to better understand the region’s past and envision possible new futures. It continues to highlight the special consciousness of place that has been the focus of the Journal of the Southwest for the last three decades. The podcast is hosted by the Southwest Center at the University of Arizona. https://bit.ly/2xBB8JJ
Editors’ note: The most recent episodes of the podcast are a two-part interview with Laiken Jordahl, who has been documenting the deleterious impacts of new border construction.
Celebrate Utah Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month with the Utah Division of State History. Activities include a virtual speaker series on Zoom and Facebook Live educational talks. https://bit.ly/2xHGCTu
The Amerind Museum is pleased to host “An Insider’s View of Paquimé” with Paul Minnis, PhD, online via Zoom at 1:00 p.m. MST on May 16. People know Paquimé in northwestern Chihuahua as one of the premier and influential ancient communities in the borderlands. It is hard to ignore its archaeological riches, including massive buildings, hundreds of parrot burials, over a ton of shell artifacts, and magnificent polychrome pottery. But these are only a part of Paquimé’s story. We will explore equally important characteristics of this site and its neighbors. To register visit: https://bit.ly/AmerindOnlineMay1620
Editors’ note: Reminder that in last week’s edition, we shared information about Pat Gilman’s May 9 lecture with the Amerind Museum, “An Overview of Mimbres Archaeology.” Here’s that link again: https://bit.ly/AmerindOnlineMay920.
The Native Nations Institute (University of Arizona) is hosting a webinar, “Hopi Food Sovereignty Through Farming and Coalitions,” at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on May 7. The presenters will talk about Hopi Food Sovereignty from their own experiences and work. One highlight will be a presentation on the Natwani Coalition and how the non-profit organization’s initiatives help to preserve Hopi farming traditions, strengthen the local Hopi food system and develop innovative sustainable strategies to promote wellness through “itam naapyani” or “doing the work ourselves.” Another highlight will be the resiliency of Hopi agriculture and what makes it so resilient and how conversation programs can reinforce American Indian Identity and culture. Register: https://bit.ly/2W8549Z. More information: https://bit.ly/2L0tqvS.
From the Grand Canyon Conservancy: Experience Grand Canyon virtually with a new video series, Grand Canyon Moments. Episodes will be released weekly for the next 20 weeks. These inspiring videos will cover a range of topics related to Grand Canyon National Park, including dark skies, trails, geology, ecology, history, wildlife, the Colorado River, American Indian connections, and much more. The first video is available for viewing at their YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/-Wlrqp-R7rc.
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/
Final Management Plans for Reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante Open Lands to Extraction
BLM Releases Draft Monument-Management Plans for Grand Staircase, Bears Ears
NEW REPORT: Former DOI Secretary, Pueblo of Acoma’s Governor, Preservation Group Discuss Impact of Broken Federal Oil & Gas System on West’s Cultural Resources