How are you today?
It has been a week of serious introspection for me, ordering thoughts and finding words. I knew I had an important first step to take: acknowledging my role in systemic racism. I’ve gathered these thoughts into a blog post I hope you’ll read (click here for that).
We may have a moment of bipartisanship in Congress this week, as you’ll see in this edition’s lead article. Our national parks and public lands would benefit from the act’s passage.
Regular readers know the threats to our public lands don’t abate, though, even after 114 years of the Antiquities Act and all the good it has achieved. (Be sure to read Tim Peterson’s commentary we link in this edition and take action.) And that is why Tribes and a diverse coalition of nonprofits are plaintiffs against the Trump administration’s downsizing of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Resistance is an expression of optimism in these churlish times.
If that’s not enough optimism to carry you forward, the story of mesquite should help. The arrival of searing temperatures in the Sonoran Desert is also the time when, as Aaron Wright states so poetically, mesquite and saguaro move from “flowers to fruits.” Aaron shares the story of mesquite in a wonderful essay we’ve linked to below.
I enjoy hearing from you. Thank you for your emails.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Senate Vote on Great American Outdoors Act May Come This Week
“I think what’s really important about this legislation and people should know is that it is not funded with taxpayer moneys. Also, it will ensure that places that are historic sites in our park service are maintained… It also will help to restore some iconic monuments, other things like battlefields, Gettysburg, those monuments need to be stabilized. And then you have cultural sites like Mesa Verde where you need the stabilization of archaeological sites. And if that funding isn’t there, you know, we’re going to see pieces of our history that fall away, literally.” https://bit.ly/3fwSqrI – Mark Brodie interview with Marcia Argust, KJZZ (NPR) Fronteras Desk
Feds Propose to Open More Lands in Southeast Utah to Oil and Gas Development
In total, the administration is opening up 114,050 acres of public land to oil and gas drilling. Leases are within 0.4 miles of Canyonlands National Park, 4 miles of Arches National Park, 3 miles of Capitol Reef National Park, and 0.7 miles of the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. https://bit.ly/37F52ub – National Parks Conservation Association
Related: Commentary by Bill McKibben in the New Yorker: https://bit.ly/2BiRTe4
Commentary: Update on Utah Monuments
In these challenging times, Americans are focused on a global pandemic and protest in the streets around systemic racism. With these immense, traumatic issues weighing on our minds, it may seem like a bit of a break to examine what’s going on with Utah’s national monuments. Although some of this monument news hasn’t made headlines, there are important developments to track for both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. https://bit.ly/30OQG9p – Tim Peterson at the Grand Canyon Trust
Online Screening: Public Trust
Part love letter, part political exposé, Public Trust investigates how we arrived at this precarious moment through three heated conflicts—a national monument in the Utah desert (Bears Ears), a mine in the Boundary Waters and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—and makes a case for their continued protection. “Through the Lens” series is a film & conversation program presented in partnership by Utah Film Center, KUER, and RadioWest. June 24, 7:00 p.m. MDT. https://bit.ly/2UQRs1C – KUER (NPR)
Continuing Coverage: Mancos-Gallup Amendment Threatens Public Health and Greater Chaco
“To a non-indigenous person, they [are] ruins. But to an indigenous Pueblo person, they’re still active sites that are used in spiritual ways,” Julia Bernal, the environmental justice director at the Pueblo Action Alliance, told The Guardian. “The fight has constantly been, ‘These are sacred sites.’ But the non-Indigenous power is like, ‘Well prove to us these are sacred sites.’ How can we prove that when it’s our beliefs?” https://bit.ly/3d8UzIP – The Guardian
Sentencing in Archaeological Resource Crime Case
A Cortez man was sentenced Wednesday for damaging a ceremonial Ancestral Puebloan archaeological site in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and removing artifacts. “We as a society must recognize the importance of respecting all cultures, including those artifacts representing cultural resources of Native Americans. The protection of Native American cultural resources continues to be a matter central to law enforcement officers and special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management,” said Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Randall Carpenter, of the BLM’s law enforcement office. https://bit.ly/2AZ9x6C – The Journal
Read more about the case at justice.gov: https://bit.ly/2YpoDKF
Commentary: Antiquities Act at 114
This week marks the 114th anniversary of the Antiquities Act, the bedrock conservation law that gave President Obama the power to protect Bears Ears as a National Monument. While the Antiquities Act was designed to preserve the history and science of America, we must recognize it hasn’t always been used equitably. But recent presidents have used the Act to help preserve Black history and elevate the role of Indigenous peoples in protecting their ancestral lands. https://bit.ly/2AXFw7n – Friends of Cedar Mesa
Jason Nez Wins Grand Canyon Historical Society’s Pioneer Award
“I think in the past, cultural and natural resource management lacked a lot of the human aspects,” mused Nez, who is Naashtezhi Tábaahá born for Oozei ’Ashiihí’. “I think the fact that I can tie these prehistoric landscapes to living tribes helps people to value them. There are seven generations that will need these resources to connect them to their stories and traditions.” https://bit.ly/2zlhjar – Navajo Times
One Oñate Monument Comes Down, Another Is Site of Protest Turned Violent
The agitation against honoring Oñate reflects a tension that has long festered between Native Americans and Hispanics over Spain’s conquest more than four centuries ago, with protests this year over police violence unleashing a broader questioning of race relations in this part of the West. Oñate’s period as governor was marked by a violent repression considered severe even by the standards of his time. He killed 800 Indigenous people in Acoma Pueblo and ordered his men to cut off the foot of at least 24 male captives. Spanish authorities convicted him on charges of excessive violence and cruelty, permanently exiling him from New Mexico. https://nyti.ms/30O1B2Z – New York Times
Essay: A Brief Cultural History of Mesquite
But the most interesting change for me is the move from flowers to fruits on two of the most important native food sources in the Sonoran Desert—saguaro and mesquite. These foods were once so important that the Tohono O’odham lunar calendar designates a month to each of them. In early June, we find ourselves in U’us Wihogdag Masad, “Mesquite Bean Harvest Moon,” and by the end of the month we enter Ha:san Ba:k Masad, “Saguaro Fruit Ripening Moon.” https://bit.ly/2Y63pTa – Aaron Wright at the Preservation Archaeology blog
Video: How Did People Make and Use Stone Tools? Part V: Heat-Treating Rock
In this segment, Allen Denoyer shows how he heat-treats bifaces to make them easier to flake. https://youtu.be/Cp9fh4qcO_o – Archaeology Southwest (opens at YouTube)
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 email@example.com.
The White Mountain Apache Tribe COVID-19 relief fund has been established to help with the immediate needs of the community: https://bit.ly/3hw7WWK
From the Arizona State Museum: On Friday, June 19, at 9:30 a.m. MST, Dr. Suzanne Eckert will present “Feminist Theory and an Engendered Archaeology: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” Free, but registration for the Zoom presentation is required. https://bit.ly/2Y8JX8v
From the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project and Los Luceros Historic Site: On Tuesday, June 30, at 6:00 p.m. MDT, as part of the Mesa Talks series, Chester Liwosz, Ph.D., will present “Conserving Sonic Heritage: Examples of the Importance of Soundscapes to Rock Art Landscapes.” https://youtu.be/sZlI__-xNL4
From Mesa Verde Voices: Episode 4 of the podcast is now available. In this episode we hear from Hopi archaeologist Lyle Balenquah about the types of seashells found in ancestral sites and those used at Hopi today, as well as the metaphors associated with them. We also hear from Jonathan Till (Curator at Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum) and Bridget Ambler (Curator at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum) about the trade routes that brought seashells to the Four Corners. https://bit.ly/3ftZYM0
Congratulations to our friends and colleagues who are being honored with 2020 Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission Awards in Public Archaeology. Well deserved, all. Full list: https://www.azpreservation.org/2020-awards
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/