The calendar page has turned and a new year is underway. On New Year’s Day, Linda Mayro, Director of Pima County’s Office of Sustainability and Conservation—and my wife—led me on an “expedition” to explore an archaeological site along the Santa Cruz River south of Tucson. The land is protected by Pima County and is in an area I had never visited. Years when I visit an archaeological site on New Year’s Day have tended to turn out well. I’m optimistic that pattern will hold.
On Monday, Skylar Begay arrived at Archaeology Southwest to begin his two-year Wyss Fellowship. We have had two days to get him settled and to start the process of launching a major campaign, with Tribal partners, to establish a Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but a strong foundation is already in place.
In 2021, the staff at Archaeology Southwest will continue to advance our diverse initiatives as our Board and staff engage in a major strategic planning process. In the past, such planning has been built around intensive two-day retreats with our board and staff. The pandemic has changed our process, and now we’ll be meeting in a series of remote sessions extending into May. I’m excited to work together to craft realistic, yet ambitious goals for this remarkable organization.
We are committed to maintaining civil conversations as we pursue the advocacy efforts that are at the core of Preservation Archaeology. And as efforts to control the pandemic take effect, we look forward to being able to return to safe, respectful, and enriching face-to-face gatherings with all our friends and colleagues.
Onward into the challenges of 2021. It will surely be an interesting year.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Federal Appropriations Bill Includes Chaco Protection
The Chaco Canyon National Historical Park is considered the birthplace of the Pueblo people—rich both in culture and natural resources. For years, a battle over oil and gas development in the area has raged on. However, when President Trump signed the recent spending bill, it included an amendment that prohibits new oil and gas leases within 10 miles of the national park. The measure also includes up to $600,000 to conduct a cultural resources investigation. https://bit.ly/2KV5WvV – KOB4 Albuquerque
“We are very happy to see this provision in the omnibus package as a stopgap measure to protect the communities, sacred cultural landscape and globally important archaeological sites surrounding Chaco Canyon, and hope that the president will sign this critically important bipartisan bill,” Ernie Atencio said Wednesday via email. “But we can’t just keep kicking this can down the road. The best permanent solution to oil and gas threats around Chaco is a permanent legislative withdrawal of all leasing in the landscape surrounding the park. We urge the incoming Congress to hear the consistent calls from the tribes and the majority of the public to prioritize this permanent protection as soon as possible.” https://bit.ly/3hLXPNV – National Parks Traveler
Commentary: Haaland’s Nomination to Interior Is Redemptive
The nomination of Deb Haaland to be interior secretary is not just a historic but a redemptive act. For the first time in our history, a Native American will hold a Cabinet-level post. As secretary of the interior, Haaland will play a key role at a crucial moment in our nation’s relationship with its more than 450 million acres of public lands, and will have a chance to reverse our exploitive history toward our country’s first people. https://bit.ly/2KWfmaw – David Gessner in the Santa Fe New Mexican (originally published in the Washington Post: https://wapo.st/3rUtv8x)
We strongly recommend that readers listen to this Here & Now (WBUR/NPR) segment with Jim Enote, CEO of the Colorado Plateau Foundation and a member of the Pueblo of Zuni, about his thoughts on Congresswoman Debra Haaland’s recent nomination to be the Biden administration’s Secretary of the Interior: https://wbur.fm/3niOQ8i.
Archaeology Southwest Welcomes Wyss Fellow Skylar Begay
Archaeology Southwest is pleased to welcome Skylar Begay for a two-year fellowship made possible by a generous grant from the Wyss Foundation through a program that provides campaign experience, mentoring, and training for up-and-coming conservation leaders. As Archaeology Southwest’s Tribal Outreach Fellow, Mr. Begay will play a key role in planning and implementing a formal initiative to establish the Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area along the Gila River from Buckeye to Dateland, which lies halfway between Gila Bend and Yuma. https://bit.ly/2KLh2mQ – Archaeology Southwest
Spotlight on Archaeologist Thomas Windes
He has sampled wood at Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde and at the mission churches at Isleta, Santa Ana, Pecos, and San Miguel. The oldest sample he’s ever found in Santa Fe was at Trujillo Plaza on East Palace Avenue. Several years ago, he and Tom Swetnam (the former director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona) conducted testing on dozens of beams and vigas in Trujillo Plaza and from The Shed restaurant in Prince Plaza. https://bit.ly/2X7p2kC – Santa Fe New Mexican
Spotlight on Colorado Canyons Association’s Robert Gay
Through the Colorado Canyons Association’s programs, Gay said they are able to get several thousand students onto public lands each year. The programs connect the students with the outdoors while allowing them to interact with experts in different fields. “So they’ll hike over to where a paleontologist is talking about rocks and fossils and spend some time there,” Gay said. “Then they’ll hike along to an archaeologist who’s talking about the Ute people and their connection to this area today. Then they’ll hike over to where a BLM biologist is talking about native and invasive plants.” https://bit.ly/3hOPM3c – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Big Data in Archaeology
Archaeology is finally catching up with the so-called “digital humanities,” as evidenced by a February special edition of the Journal of Field Archaeology, devoted entirely to discussing the myriad ways in which large-scale datasets and associated analytics are transforming the field. The papers included in the edition were originally presented during a special session at a 2019 meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The data sets might be a bit smaller than those normally associated with Big Data, but this new “digital data gaze” is nonetheless having a profound impact on archaeological research. https://bit.ly/38eVBn8 – Ars Technica
18th Southwest Symposium Set for 2023
Earlier this year, the Southwest Symposium Archaeological Conference board met to prepare for the upcoming 18th biennial meeting. In light of the ongoing pandemic and in consultation with the meeting’s hosts, we have decided to hold the next Southwest Symposium at the beginning of 2023. We are excited to have Judith Habicht-Mauche and Maxine McBrinn host that meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Follow https://southwestsymposium.org/ for updates.
Continuing Coverage: University of Minnesota Repatriation Moves Forward
Nine decades after the founder of the University of Minnesota’s anthropology department dug up more than 2,000 Native objects in New Mexico, the university is finally taking concerted action to bring them home. The university’s Weisman Art Museum has come under particular fire for dragging its feet on the process, launched 30 years ago when Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), requiring federally funded institutions to return Native remains and sacred objects to tribes. The pace accelerated after the retirement in June of longtime Weisman director Lyndel King, who had argued that such objects should remain in museums even as she took steps to comply with the law. http://strib.mn/2JNSp8P – Minneapolis Star Tribune
UPDATED: Job Opportunity, Archaeology Southwest
Reporting to the President/CEO, the successful Director of Finance and Operations will be a hands-on and participative manager with experience in nonprofit finance, planning and budgeting, human resources, and administration. The Director of Finance and Operations is a critical member of the senior leadership team in strategic decision-making and operations as Archaeology Southwest continues to enhance its quality programming and build capacity. http://bit.ly/2oQN4mq
Blog: Paa’tuuwa’qatsi: Water is Life
The Grand Canyon landscape contains some of the Southwest’s most unique ecosystems of rivers, springs and riparian zones. These areas are home to many plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world, or that represent the last viable populations holding on for existence. The human connection to these areas also holds much significance for many Indigenous cultures here in the Southwest. The relationship between natural environments and Indigenous peoples is the foundation for much of our traditions, beliefs and values. Therefore, the result of healthy lands, air, water, and the plant and animals that reside within, manifests in healthy Indigenous communities. https://bit.ly/2JNj9Gl – Lyle Balenquah, From the Earth Studio
Blog: Making an Impact
In this post, I want to talk a little bit about what happens to projectile points when they are shot. The vast majority of projectile points made in the past ended up broken—which was the expected outcome of hunting with them. Hunters could only count on one shot with a stone point, and though they might get lucky and get more, they had to plan for just one. It’s clear they would have carried a few foreshafts to allow multiple shots without having to stop and work on their equipment. https://bit.ly/3aNM6gB – Allen Denoyer at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest)
Reminder: AAHS Research Slam January 11
The Slam is open to the public and brought to you by AAHS@Home through Zoom. On January 11 at 6:30 p.m. MST, join us for nine creative 3-minute slam presentations, vote for slam awards, see short videos and photos of AAHS’s history and current events, bid at a silent auction, and network in an optional social hour. All proceeds fund AAHS Research and Travel Grants. Register at: https://bit.ly/ResSlam2020. More information (opens as a PDF): https://bit.ly/36VT9RN – Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
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 the Oklahoma Public Archaeology Network: On January 21 at 7:00 p.m. CST, Dr. Kelley Hays-Gilpin will present “What makes a sacred place sacred? Petroglyphs, Paintings, and Ancient Dwellings in the Southwest and Hawai’i.” More information and Zoom registration: https://bit.ly/2XdAE5L.
From the Texas Archaeological Society: On February 20–21, the Society will hold a virtual Ceramics Academy, “The Stories Found in Pottery.” This academy will introduce the importance of archeological ceramics in terms of technology, chronology, dating, trade, subsistence, and cultural identity. Each participant in the Ceramics Academy will receive an excellent class manual and they will receive a KIT with materials for hands-on exercises that will be virtually instructed such as making pottery and identifying vessel types, age, and firing. $100 fee. More information and link to registration: https://www.txarch.org/academy01
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/