I keep returning to the themes that Scientific American called on the Biden administration to prioritize: COVID-19, climate change, respect for science, and respectful discourse. The latter three issues are highlighted in today’s link to an article by Judy Fahys on Interior’s to-do list. Here, I want to highlight the latter two through an example.
Just over a year ago I became active in the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance (AVCA) when I joined their Science Committee. The Altar Valley is less than an hour southwest of Tucson. It’s a bit higher elevation than Tucson, and it supports a grassland environment that, in turn, has supported cattle ranching as a principle economic enterprise.
I have almost no desire to ride a horse, and I don’t know much about cattle ranching. But I am deeply impressed with what this nonprofit organization has achieved over the past 25 years through their focus on community, science, and conservation.
They work together with the goal of making the entire watershed a sustainable place to live and work. They communicate with their neighbors, they collaborate with a diversity of scientists from the University of Arizona and elsewhere, and they partner with many government agencies. It is AVCA’s commitment to open discussion and communication that allows this diverse group to get along.
As such, they’re a great example of what “respect for science and respectful discourse” can accomplish.
Now that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is underway, I hope to spend more time on the ground with this group. As an archaeologist, I have spent a lot of time mapping ancient terraces, check dams, and fields, and the AVCA folks and their partners are using similar approaches to heal erosion and promote rainfall infiltration. I want to observe the outcomes of the water and erosion control features that AVCA members are building.
Here’s a link to a recent before-and-after study of rock check dams that Mary Nichols of the Southwest Watershed Research Center and an AVCA partner have been running south of Tucson.
What are some similar examples of open and effective cooperation you’re aware of?
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Grand Canyon Protection Act Introduced in Senate
Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema introduced the Grand Canyon Protection Act to strengthen the state’s economy by protecting the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s outdoor heritage. …Kelly and Sinema’s Grand Canyon Protection Act prohibits new uranium mining around Grand Canyon National Park, protecting Arizona’s water supply, outdoor recreation and tourism industries, and tribal communities. Press Release at Kelly dot senate dot gov | Read More >>
Commentary: 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. Lyle Balenquah at From the Earth Studio | Read More >>
We linked to Balenquah’s essay in the January 5 edition of this newsletter, but thought a revisit was worthwhile, given the introduction of the bill in the House and now the Senate.
Interior’s Weighty To-Do List
A 60-day pause on major Interior Department actions remains in place for another month, following a series of executive orders on climate change and public lands that Biden signed in his first week in office. During that time, officials will be mulling a to-do list for Interior that probably looks something like this. Judy Fahys in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage and Commentary: Confirm Haaland without Delay
Laguna Pueblo tribal member and New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be the next interior secretary is long overdue, and she should be confirmed without delay. Not only because the Interior Department oversees trust and treaty responsibilities to tribes, but because so many aspects of Interior’s portfolio touch Indian Country, including the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, which manage “public lands” that are Native American ancestral lands. Jim Enote in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
For the last four years, Representative Haaland witnessed the deterioration of environmental protections. She proved herself to be a woman of action, fighting to protect cherished sacred places like Chaco Canyon and Standing Rock. …After almost 200 years of the Department of Interior managing federal policies involving the 574 Tribal nations in this country, an enrolled member of one of these nations will finally be running the show. This is an appointment hundreds of years overdue. Angel Peña in The Paper (Albuquerque) | Read More >>
Native Americans have reason to believe the two-term U.S. congresswoman will push forward on long-simmering issues in Indian Country if she’s confirmed as secretary of the Interior Department, which has broad oversight of tribal affairs and energy development. Unlike most people who have held the job, she won’t need to be schooled on the history of Native Americans or tribal sovereignty. She already knows. Felicia Fonseca in the Washington Post | Read More >>
Commentary: Stop Destroying African American Cemeteries
Legal protections can be afforded to burial sites. Currently, some Native American burials are protected by the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, for example, which requires federal agencies to repatriate or transfer human remains and other cultural items to the appropriate community. Apart from general historic preservation regulations, no similar federal law or act mandates broad protections of African American graveyards—a bill to begin addressing this issue was recently passed by the Senate and is awaiting a House vote. Many cemeteries have suffered from years of official neglect and government policies that ignored or devalued their significance to U.S. history. This systemic destruction of a vital part of African American heritage needs to stop. Alexandra Jones at SAPIENS | Read More >>
Blog: The Phantom Forests That Built Mesa Verde
As an archaeologist and dendrochronologist (a scientist who studies tree rings), I’m particularly fascinated by the wood used to build these cliff sites. To build and maintain structures in Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and elsewhere across the greater Four Corners region, Ancestral Puebloan construction workers needed thousands of wooden beams. To get those beams, loggers harvested trees from the surrounding forests using a stone ax attached to a wooden handle. Stephen E. Nash at SAPIENS | Read More >>
Survey: Identifying the Hidden Costs of Archaeological Field Schools
This survey seeks information on student experiences with managing the financial costs of archaeological field schools, including the experiences of those who were unable to attend a field school because of costs or other exclusionary factors. In particular, we seek to understand how hidden costs may be making participation difficult, creating a roadblock to a fully inclusive discipline. The survey should require only 5-8 minutes of your time. This survey has been developed by a consortium of academic programs in archaeology in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists, the Indigenous Archaeology Collective, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and SAPIENS. The fully anonymous survey is intended for students whose primary training has been at a US-based educational institution. Coalition of Archaeology Centers | Learn More >>
Professors, please help get the word out to students. Thank you!
Feb. 25 Webinar: What Makes a Dog? The Human-Canine Connection in the Ancestral Pueblo World
The UNM Alumni Austin Chapter invites all alumni in our Pack to celebrate Lobo Day 2021, February 25 with a presentation by Dr. Emily Lena Jones, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She will be presenting “What Makes a Dog? The Human-Canine Connection in the Ancestral Pueblo World” at 6:00 p.m. MST. The event is free and open to the public. University of New Mexico Alumni | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Reminder: Feb. 25 and March 4 Webinar (two-part series): Return to House of Rain
In a series of homemade dispatches from the field, Craig Childs, author of House of Rain, takes his audience into the ancient landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. The Four Corners region is busy with cliff palaces and rubble-mounded towers, signs of settlement, migration, warfare, and community long before the colonial era. This mini-series will be ways of seeing and understanding this ancestral terrain, experiencing it in situ. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Reminder: March 2 Webinar: Should We Stay or Should We Go?
Karen Schollmeyer (Preservation Archaeologist and Field School Director) and Scott Ingram (Colorado College) will consider “Should We Stay or Should We Go? Farming and Climate Change, 1000–1450 CE.” Karen and Scott will discuss ways farmers respond to climate changes, especially droughts, highlighting findings from their case studies in southwest New Mexico and central Arizona. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
March 18 Webinar: Mimbres in Context
Archaeologist Steve Lekson presents “Mimbres in Context: Hohokam, Chaco, Casas Grandes” on March 18, 7:00 p.m. MST. Southwestern New Mexico’s ancient Mimbres people were interesting not only for their famous pottery but also as “players” in the ancient Southwest’s larger cultural context of Hohokam up to about 1000 CE; Chaco from 1000–1150; and the run-up to Paquimé/Casas Grandes from 1150–1250. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
March 2 Video Release: History of Textile Weaving
Weaving is nearly a 2,000-year-old skill that has been passed down each generation to the people inhabiting the Southwest. Traditional weaving patterns eventually diverged and contemporary images and words were featured in modern rugs. Weaving takes a great deal of skill, patience, and time. Depending on the size of the rug, it can take weeks to months to produce a finished piece. 6:00 p.m. MST. Grand Canyon NPS Cultural Demonstration Program | View Here >>
March 3 Video Release: Louise Nez & Laverine Greyeyes Interview (Diné Textile Weavers)
Louise Nez and Laverine Greyeyes, a mother and daughter, discuss the tradition and art of Weaving in the Diné (Navajo) culture. Louise speaks very little English and her daughter Laverine translates her answers. Louise grew up in a rural area herding sheep instead of attending school and was taught to weave by her mother at the age of twelve. Since she began weaving in 1943, Louise has hand-made hundreds of rugs. Her work is seen nationwide through many museums and collections, however many of her rugs have been labeled unknown to this day. Louise in turn taught her daughters to weave as well. Laverine learned how to weave when she was 14 years old and was taught by her mother the new style of pictorial rugs. Laverine has also branched out to learn the art of painting. 12:30 p.m. MST. Grand Canyon NPS Cultural Demonstration Program | View Here >>
March 10 Video Release: Lyle Balenquah Interview (Hopi Natural Stone and Shell Jeweler)
Lyle Balenquah discusses how his jewelry work reflects his cultural background using traditional and abstract designs. He draws inspiration from his experience working as a professional archaeologist in the American Southwest for over 20 years. Through this work, he is able to see first-hand how his ancestors used natural materials to express themselves through their artwork. Lyle works with various stones, sea shell and other natural materials to handcraft wearable artwork such as pendants and earrings. 12:30 p.m. MST. Grand Canyon NPS Cultural Demonstration Program | View Here >>
Job Opportunity: Museum Curator, Chaco Culture NHP and Aztec Ruins NM
This position serves as the dynamic museum curator for both Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument, duty stationed at the Hibben Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The purpose of this position is to provide direction and management over an extensive and complex museum collections and subordinate staff and carry out responsibilities in the museum functions of collections, exhibits, research, education, archives, and library. This work occurs primarily at the Hibben Center but will also include work responsibilities at both park units. This position reports directly to the Superintendent. Learn More >>
Job Opportunities: Grinnell College Anthropology Department
The Grinnell College Anthropology Department is conducting two searches this spring: a term (1-year) position in archaeology, and a term (1-year) position in cultural anthropology. The research area is open.
Notice from Crow Canyon Archaeological Center: College Field School and Paid Internships
We would like to inform you of two opportunities for students available at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, in Cortez, Colorado. We will offer a College Field School supported by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (REU) from May 17–July 10. The Field School is certified by the Register of Professional Archaeologists. We especially encourage undergraduate students from historically under-represented groups to apply. Qualified students will receive financial support from the NSF REU program. The application deadline is March 19. Email fieldschool at crowcanyon dot org for more information.
We will be offering four Public Archaeology Internships and one Education Internship from May 24–July 30. The Public Archaeology Internship is designed for the early-stage graduate student or advanced undergraduate who is seeking a well-rounded Southwestern archaeology experience, with an emphasis on public engagement. The application deadline is March 12. Email khughes at crowcanyon dot org for more information.
We’re happy to help get the word out. Please submit news, publication announcements, and other resources to this link for consideration.