This day after the winter solstice, the sun is setting. Things are quieting down—thankfully.
I crammed the typical weekly Zoom hours into two days. It’s time for a break. Time for rest and reflection.
At Archaeology Southwest, 2021 looks promising. We’re planning to ensure the long-term care of the additional 60-plus acres of petroglyphs we now protect at Texas Hill and Gillespie Narrows. We’re ready to re-launch our efforts toward protections for the Great Bend of the Gila. And more.
As this edition highlights, a dramatic change at the Department of Interior is on the horizon. President-elect Biden took the overdue and much-needed action of nominating an Indigenous woman, Rep. Deb Haaland, to direct the Department of Interior. We lead with multiple articles that celebrate this good news.
While change is in the air, we need to prepare our hearts and minds as we transition to 2021. Healing comes through listening. It comes through recognizing that respect for place can create common ground. It will take hard work. It will take time.
Finally, friends, I hope you can rest and stay healthy over the holidays. Thank you for partaking of our weekly offerings and for caring about places, the stories and values they embody, and the ways that places and cultural landscapes enrich our lives. If you can, please go outside and enjoy a favorite place over this holiday break. I’ll be thinking of you when I do. We need your renewed energy in 2021.
See you here again on January 6.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Congresswoman Debra Haaland Nominated to Be Next Secretary of the Interior
President-elect Joe Biden chose Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) Thursday to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s relationship with the nation’s Indigenous peoples. With that selection and others this week, Biden sent a clear message that top officials charged with confronting the nation’s environmental problems will have a shared experience with the Americans who have disproportionately been affected by toxic air and polluted land. “A voice like mine has never been a Cabinet secretary or at the head of the Department of Interior,” Haaland tweeted Thursday night. “…I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.” https://wapo.st/34DfHW3 – Washington Post
All Pueblo Council of Governors Statement on Rep. Haaland’s Nomination as Interior Secretary
The All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) joins Tribal Nations and organizations from across the country in celebrating Congresswoman Debra Haaland’s selection this afternoon as Secretary of the Interior by President-elect Joe Biden. “The appointment of Deb Haaland, a Pueblo woman with impressive credentials and deep community roots, is long-overdue and incredibly emotional for Pueblo people,” said APCG Chairman Wilfred Herrera Jr., “As the leaders of the 20 sovereign Pueblo Nations we respectfully call upon every member of the Senate to confirm Secretary-designate Haaland and usher in a new era in our country’s nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people.” https://www.apcg.org/ – All Pueblo Council of Governors
Commentary: Rep. Haaland’s Nomination Carries Deep Symbolism
If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American Cabinet secretary and will head the department that, in the nineteenth century, destroyed Indigenous peoples for political leverage. …The Interior Department today manages our natural resources as well as the government’s relationship with Indigenous tribes. Placing Haaland at the head of it is more than simply promoting diversity in government. It is a recognition of 170 years of American history and the perversion of our principles by men who lusted for power. https://bit.ly/3mKg3Ae – Heather Cox Richardson at billmoyers.com
Commentary: Rep. Haaland’s Nomination Is a Historic Moment
Rep. Haaland’s nomination marks a turning point in valuing the experiences, knowledge, and leadership of Native American nations, which would have been unimaginable in previous presidential administrations. In particular, Rep. Haaland possesses a unique capability and perspective for this position: She’s from a state with a range of Native American reservations, from the Navajo Nation to the Pueblo communities (she is a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo); she was the chairwoman of her tribal economic development corporation; and she supported efforts at Standing Rock to preserve tribal sovereignty and protect the natural resources threatened by the proposed oil pipeline in 2016. All of this will be important to change the direction of a department that has often found its stewardship of public lands and waters challenged by politically empowered interest groups, and that will likely encounter sharp resistance to repatriating tribal lands—a priority for Native Americans. https://brook.gs/3rj0yD0 – Robert Maxim and Randall Akee in The Avenue, blog of the Brookings Institution
Additional commentary at High Country News: https://bit.ly/2WFupYg
Read Archaeology Southwest’s statement here: https://bit.ly/3nyVTdM.
Commentary: Indigenize Conservation
It seems that many people, from all backgrounds and all walks of life, are hungry to redefine our relationships to the living world—to move from seeing land as private property that is available for exploitation and extraction to understanding land as flow and nourishment. How can we return, in a freshly imagined way, to understanding land as nourishment once again? What would it look like to turn those bumper sticker slogans into programs and policies for decolonization? To begin, we need to change how so-called public lands in the United States are governed as well as how they are stewarded. https://bit.ly/3haZSLj – Melissa K. Nelson in Sierra
Continuing Coverage: Report Shows U.S. Forest Service Mishandled Oak Flat
On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the passage of a notorious Congressional rider that was stuffed into a defense appropriations bill at the midnight hour by special foreign interests, the U.S. Forest Service was forced to halt its ramrodding of the Oak Flat land grab. The December 2014 rider to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015 set up the legal shortcuts for the Anglo-Australian corporate capture of Native American sacred land which would be totally destroyed by the massive copper mine proposed to be imposed there. On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) responded to the request of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and issued a formal report of its five-month investigation of the Forest Service’s conduct of the legal process required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). https://bit.ly/2KJ47l7 – Apache Stronghold (opens as a PDF)
Ancient Evidence Informs on Future Aridification in the Southwest
As heat and drought set in, the freshwater dried up and forced the ancients to survive by plucking tiny seeds from desert shrubs called pickleweed. Archaeologists know this from a thick layer of dusty chaff buried in the cave’s floor. It might be ancient history. But the past could also become the future, science tells us. In fact, thanks to global warming, regional climate patterns linked to extended periods of heat and drought that upended prehistoric life across the Southwest thousands of years ago are setting up again now. https://bit.ly/3nL8Otf – Utah Public Radio (NPR)
A Season of Ceremony and Storytelling
In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 will be the year’s day of least sunlight, when the sun takes its lowest, shortest path across the sky. North of the Arctic Circle, it will be the midpoint of the period of darkness, when even twilight doesn’t reach the horizon. As we did before the solar eclipse in August, this December we asked our Native friends to share traditions they’ve heard about the winter solstice. Their answers highlight winter as a time for storytelling. https://bit.ly/3pef11a – Native News Online (previously published by the Smithsonian)
Society of Black Archaeologists and Society for Historical Archaeology Enter into Memorandum of Understanding
… Whereas, the Boards of Directors of the two organizations wish to reaffirm and strengthen this association to advance their mutual commitment to ensure racial equity in the field, encourage responsible cultural resource stewardship of African and African diaspora terrestrial and maritime cultural heritage, promote the interests of scientific inquiry, and provide for the dissemination of knowledge… https://bit.ly/38ctDr0 – Society for Historical Archaeology (full memorandum at link)
Friends of Cedar Mesa Seeks New Executive Director
Our outgoing Executive Director, Josh Ewing, has built a robust, effective, and growing, organization. It is an immense accomplishment. Today, we seek a new executive who can build on these successes. FCM has an extraordinary opportunity to help define how a truly unique and culturally significant landscape can be collaboratively managed and protected. https://bit.ly/3pihcRn – Friends of Cedar Mesa
REMINDER: January Archaeology Café: Archaeology Southwest’s Conservation Properties
Please join us at 6:00 p.m. MST on January 5, 2021, when John R. Welch, Director of Archaeology Southwest’s Landscape and Site Protection Program, will discuss “Protected Places: Archaeology Southwest’s Conservation Properties and Their Emerging Roles in Preservation Archaeology.” John will give a virtual tour of conservation properties protected by Archaeology Southwest and highlight their potential for cultural heritage stewardship and research. More information and Zoom registration at the link: https://bit.ly/3qb7RvW
Blog: Climate Change and Archaeology
In this series, we looked at different elements of climate change and worked to better understand how they affect archaeological sites. Sea level rise threatens to sweep away coastal sites, erosion can bury underwater artifacts and cause delicate adobe cities to fall, wildfires rage and burn away cultural heritage, pollution corrodes everything from woven cloth to stone structures, and melting ice is revealing more artifacts than we can conserve. With all these things happening, it can be easy to lose heart and want to give up. However, just because climate change is threatening sites does not mean all is lost. Let’s take a minute to look at who is working to save the past for future generations, how they do it, and what ways we can help. https://bit.ly/34BON0Q – Katherine Hodge at Project Archaeology (earlier posts in the series can be accessed at that link)
Audio: Bill Doelle Discusses Likely Changes to Public Lands Policy
On December 9, 2020, Doelle shared his thoughts on how policies and protections might proceed during the next administration with KVOI radio host Bill Buckmaster. Discussion begins at 45:00. https://www.buckmastershow.com/?powerpress_pinw=3723-podcast – Buckmaster Show
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 Casa Grande Ruins National Monument: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is scheduled to be closed to the public three days each year, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Independence Day. This year, the Monument will be closed Thursday, December 24 and Friday, December 25, 2020 for the Christmas Holiday, including all buildings and access to the park grounds. The monument will resume operations at 9 a.m. Saturday, December 26.
From Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument announces that the national monument, including Cliff Dweller Trail with access to the cliff dwellings, will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. These closures will be in effect to allow employees and volunteers to enjoy the holiday with their friends and families. The Park bookstore, run by Western National Parks Association, will be closed for Christmas and New Year’s Day as well.
From the Museum of Northern Arizona: In “Journey to Balance: Migration and healing in three Hopi murals,” Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin and Ed Kabotie discuss murals painted by Delbridge Hoananie and Michael Kabotie on display at the Museum of Northern Arizona. https://youtu.be/bO5-9brMfqc (opens at YouTube)
From the Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective, and other partners: We are excited to announce the next webinar sponsored by the Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, and SAPIENS, Unsettling the Past: Radically Reimagining Archaeological Knowledge. The webinar will be held on January 13, 2021, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. EST. The event is sponsored by the Stanford Archaeology Center. More information and Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/3mJoBHQ.
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/