I’ve been thinking about the articles you’ll be reading in this edition. It’s a bit earlier in the day than I usually write to you, as there’s an Archaeology Café coming up in a little bit tonight. I think you’ll especially enjoy it—video soon.
You know, I find today’s articles mostly reassuring. A report on Zuni Salt Lake highlighting mutual agreements of safe passage for pilgrims. New insights on ancient perishable objects—who wouldn’t feel comforted by a blanket crafted from 11,500 turkey feathers? A Navajo perspective on Walking in Beauty on our public lands that moves me.
Coming amid another surge in the coronavirus pandemic, these calming articles are welcome. I found this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, where all our gatherings were mostly small, to also be a peaceful change. For me, it offered more opportunity for introspection, well beyond the extreme sociality of a large feast.
And December has arrived. Turning the calendar is a reassurance that 2020 is soon coming to an end.
Still—do take in the less calming article about Hopi farmers who’ve experienced a particularly challenging drought that spanned last summer’s growing season. It’s yet another reminder that climate change cannot be ignored.
So, I tell you what I tell myself, in the face of all this: Stay calm and stay focused. We’re moving toward a better future.
How are you doing? Let us know,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Turkey Feather Blanket Analyzed
A team led by Washington State University archaeologists analyzed an approximately 800-year-old, 99 x 108 cm (about 39 x 42.5 inches) turkey feather blanket from southeastern Utah to get a better idea of how it was made. Their work revealed thousands of downy body feathers were wrapped around 180 meters (nearly 200 yards) of yucca fiber cord to make the blanket, which is currently on display at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah. https://bit.ly/33yU5to – WSU Insider
Video: Indigenous Collaboration: New Insights in Pueblo Perishables
This panel brought together several knowledgeable scholars and weavers to discuss their current work with the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project, as well as their own experimental work with Southwest perishables. Invited panelists include Laurie Webster (Southwest Archaeologist and Southwest Perishable Expert), Mary Weahkee (Santa Clara/Comanche – Office of Archaeological Studies Archaeologist), Christopher Lewis (Zuni Basket Weaver), Louie Garcia (Tiwa/Piro Textile Weaver), and Chuck LaRue (Wildlife Biologist). https://youtu.be/Xu5V9ggXHnI – Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (opens at YouTube)
Hopi Farming Traditions and Climate Change
Members of the Hopi Tribe rely on rains to nourish their corn, carrying on ancient traditions of dry farming in desert valleys that stretch between the mesas. The Hopis say that in their religion, they pray for all humanity and all living things, and for storm clouds that will soak the soil and give their corn plants moisture to thrive. But this year, hardly any summer monsoon rains came. The Hopi Reservation baked in one of the hottest summers on record. https://bit.ly/3mwzPQs – Arizona Republic (azcentral.com)
Commentary: Walking in Beauty on Our Public Lands
The Navajo–or Diné–have a life philosophy which loosely translated in English means “walk in beauty.” But like most translations, much is lost in other languages. This short phrase refers to the life-long goal of attaining harmony within the universe on an existential level; of achieving human existence in balance with space, time, wildlife, nature, science, the seasons, the four directions, and so on; in a way that flows without disruption. https://bit.ly/36mhgJa – Hilary Tompkins and Angelo Baca at “The Latest,” Conservation Lands Foundation
Commentary: Zuni Salt Lake, a Sanctuary
It came as a surprise. While researching ancient salt trails, I learned about something unexpected. The Four Corners country contains a sanctuary where enemies used to let each other pass in peace. Even in times of danger and uncertainty, tribes would leave their weapons behind during pilgrimages to collect salt and visit shrines. They considered a lake in western New Mexico to be neutral ground, a place of refuge where all could freely come and go. https://bit.ly/2KQ5q1C – Scott Thybony at KNAU (NPR)
Internship Opportunity: Desert Research Learning Center/Student Conservation Association
Are you a recent graduate looking for a great internship? The Desert Research Learning Center is offering a 12-month Student Conservation Association internship at our facility and in our parks. The position will start in January 2021. The intern will support public education and citizen science programs, with specific focus on mammal monitoring with remote wildlife cameras. The position will involve travel to multiple park units. Housing will be provided at the Desert Research Learning Center, located in Tucson, Arizona, adjacent to Saguaro National Park. Apply here: https://bit.ly/2I2roxw
Forthcoming Film Shares the Life of Ann Axtell Morris
The movie is based on the true story of one of America’s first female archaeologists, Ann Axtell Morris, who spent years uncovering civilizations in the southwest and Mexico. Axtell Morris was married to Earl Halstead Morris… “Canyon Del Muerto” is shooting on location across the southwest and the Yucatan thanks to special COVID-19 measures and safety protocols in place. It will also film in archaeological and cultural heritage sites throughout North America and Mexico in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, National Park Service and the government of Yucatan. The filmmakers say “the addition of Native American cast and the personal support of President Jonathan Nez of the Navajo Nation emphasizes the importance of telling the indigenous history of North America.” https://bit.ly/2HZ9b3V – Variety
Online Resources, Events, and Opportunities to Help
Please keep sharing these with us, and we will keep helping to get the word out. Our inbox is firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Peopling the Past Podcast: On episode 12, we are joined by Sanchita Balachandran, Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and founder of the non-profit Untold Stories. Listen in to “Thrown Together: Potters, Painters, and Ceramic Production” as she speaks to us about the sensory experience of ancient potters and painters, her experimental archaeology project at Johns Hopkins, and the underdrawings on Greek painted pottery. https://bit.ly/36qikvM
From the Southwest Center: On December 4 at 12:00 p.m. MST, Lawrence Taylor will give a virtual reading of his book, Tales from the Desert Borderlands, and accompanied in discussion by Natalia Mendoza-Rockwell and Tom Sheridan. More information and Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/33wyQIQ
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/