It’s getting warm in the southern Southwest. Triple-digit temperatures lead to thoughts about water as a necessity for life, about our homes as places of shelter and respite. Two of our longer articles today deal with water and houses, respectively.
The Huhugam of the lower Salt River valley built and managed many hundreds of miles of irrigation canals in precontact times. The Gila River canal systems, where the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) is located today, were only slightly less complex. An article in High Country News describes the innovative ways that GRIC has adapted to the cultural, environmental, and legal conditions of the 21st century. This article provides insights into the complexity of responses to climate change in an arid land. It is inspiring to hear the Tribal Governor conclude: “I think this is an opportunity where you see a lot [of] our younger generation that are wanting to learn who it is to be from the Gila River Indian Community.”
Our second long-read comes from Emergence, an online magazine that arrives on Sundays, when I usually have a bit more time to indulge in reading as relaxation. David Farrier is not an archaeologist, but he takes a very material approach—as well as a literary one—to reflect on his house, and houses of others. And he sure sounds like an archaeologist when he notes that, “Every house is a clock, marking the passage of our time on Earth.” Archaeologists often excavate houses from past eras. Our focus is very material—we identify construction materials, tools, bits of past meals—and we gain insights into past lives. If you have the time to read it, I think Farrier’s essay will resonate with you.
It has been great to see more and more of our staff returning to the office. The vaccine is making a real difference in how we can work together. Reconnecting and re-energizing. The optimism grows. I hope you are finding the same in your lives.
Let us know how you’re faring these days,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Video: Native American Fire Management at an Ancient Wildland–Urban Interface
Presenters: Chris Roos, Southern Methodist University; Chris Toya and John Galvan, Jemez Pueblo. As residential development continues into flammable landscapes, wildfires increasingly threaten homes, lives, and livelihoods in the wildland–urban interface (WUI). Although this problem seems distinctly modern, Native American communities have lived in WUI contexts for centuries. When carefully considered, the past offers valuable lessons for coexisting with wildfire, climate change, and related challenges. This webinar will show that ancestors of Native Americans from Jemez Pueblo used ecologically savvy intensive burning and wood collection to make their ancient WUI resistant to climate variability and extreme fire behavior. Southwest Fire Science Consortium | Watch Now >>
We were honored to share this collaborative research in Archaeology Southwest Magazine. You can download that issue for free now through June 1. >>
Continuing Coverage: The Antiquities Act and the Future of Bears Ears
[Josh] Ewing [of Friends of Cedar Mesa] said archeologists have always known the rock art at Sand Island is special. The area was included in a 1904 map of potential monuments in the Southwest drawn by an archeologist named Edgar Lee Hewett. Hewett also drafted the Antiquities Act, which gives presidents the power to create national monuments. “So the guy that was arguing for the Antiquities Act had a dot on his map that was saying this area needs to be protected,” Ewing said. Kate Groetzinger at KUER 90.1 (NPR) | Read More >>
Audio is also available at the link.
Important Indigenous Plants Found Near Archaeological Sites in Bears Ears
Ancient Puebloans left structures, pottery, tools, graves and countless other artifacts in Utah’s Bears Ears region, but they also left plant communities, rich with nutritional and healing properties, which are still growing in and around archaeological sites to this day, according to new research by University of Utah scientists and Indigenous colleagues. With an eye toward documenting the presence of 117 culturally significant plant species, the study examined 25 such sites within Bears Ears National Monument’s original boundaries, designated in 2016 by President Barack Obama. These are plants used by the Hopi, Ute, Apache, Zuni and Navajo, the tribes that trace ancestry to this area centered around Cedar Mesa, which was heavily occupied 1,000 years ago by Puebloan cultures. The researchers discovered many of the plants grow in relative abundance near ancient habitations, yet are very rare in other areas. Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
Read about the research directly in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences >>
Continuing Coverage: Oil and Gas Leasing in Greater Chaco
Sen. Martin Heinrich sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland requesting an area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park be protected from future oil and gas development. Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, asked Haaland to administratively withdraw the federal minerals within a 10-mile radius of the park from leasing. This would provide time for legislation to be passed that permanently sets the area aside from leasing. Heinrich said in the letter that he plans to reintroduce this legislation and is working with other members of the New Mexico Congressional delegation to do so. “As that legislation moves through the process on Capitol Hill, an administrative withdrawal would provide interim protection until permanent protection can be secured legislatively,” he wrote. Hannah Grover in NM Political Report | Read More >>
Archaeology of a Community of Black Freedmen and Women in Texas
As a historical archaeologist, these are the questions that guide my research at the Antioch Colony, an all-Black settlement in Hays County that was founded on the heels of emancipation. Figuring out how Antioch’s settlers and their descendants maintained a thriving community from the late 1860s to the 1940s is like working on a jigsaw puzzle. Pieces of this puzzle come from different sources: oral history interviews, archaeological evidence, archival records, and even old family photos and heirlooms. Maria Franklin at SAPIENS | Read More >>
A slideshow is also available at the link.
Archaeology of a Railroad Town in Utah
Excavation work is underway at Terrace—organized by the BLM, Utah State Historic Preservation Office, and the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association as part of the Passport in Time project. At its peak in the 1870s, Terrace was home to an ethnically diverse population with many Chinese immigrants settling in the town to help construct the transcontinental rail system that connected the east and west coasts of the U.S. at Promontory Point. … “We have been ignored and discriminated against in the early part of the 19th century,” said Rep. Karen Kan, D-Taylorsville, who is also the president of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association. “But today what we are doing is honoring our ancestors, and to be a part of that is phenomenal.” Diego Romo for Fox 13 Salt Lake City | Read More >>
A short video is also available at the link.
Fort Apache Heritage Foundation Receives NEA Grant
The Fort Apache Heritage Foundation has been approved for a $100,000 Our Town grant for “Engaging Apache Cultural Preferences and Community Creativity in Site Presentation and Visitor Experience Planning for the Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School National Historic Landmark.” This is one of 63 grants nationwide that the agency has approved to support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities to strengthen communities and advance local economic and community development; ultimately laying the groundwork for sustainable systems change. Only a few of these important grants have ever gone to tribes or tribal organizations. “As the country works toward a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce this Our Town funding. These awards will support cross-sector partnerships such as the one lead by the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation that demonstrate the power of the arts to help communities create a better future for themselves,” said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. Fort Apache Heritage Foundation and White Mountain Apache Tribe (press release) | Learn More >>
Gila River Indian Community Revives a Stretch of the Gila River, Looks toward Future
A riverbed that has been parched since the end of the 19th century—a portion of the historic lifeblood of the Gila River Indian Community—is now coursing again with water, luring things like cattails and birds back to its shores. … The revival of this small segment of the 649-mile (1045-kilometer) Gila River, which has served the tribes that make up the Gila River Indian Community—the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa)—for roughly 2,000 years, was an added benefit of a grassroots infrastructure overhaul, known as “managed aquifer recharge,” or MAR, which aimed to restore the local groundwater basin. The MAR project has not only secured a water supply for local agriculture, but it has also generated a stable source of income and strengthened the community’s ties to tradition. Sharon Udasin in High Country News | Read More >>
Federal Funds May Bring Greater Scrutiny of NAGPRA Compliance
Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains now in their collections. Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members. At least two museums are now facing possible scrutiny—the nonprofit Favell Museum of Native American Artifacts and Contemporary Western Art in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the End of the Trail Museum, which is connected to the Trees of Mystery gift shop in the redwood forest in Klamath, California. Nanette Kelley in Indian Country Today | Read More >>
Machine Learning and Pottery Sorting
Archaeologists at Northern Arizona University are hoping a new technology they helped pioneer will change the way scientists study the broken pieces left behind by ancient societies. The team from NAU’s Department of Anthropology have succeeded in teaching computers to perform a complex task many scientists who study ancient societies have long dreamt of: rapidly and consistently sorting thousands of pottery designs into multiple stylistic categories. By using a form of machine learning known as Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), the archaeologists created a computerized method that roughly emulates the thought processes of the human mind in analyzing visual information. “Now, using digital photographs of pottery, computers can accomplish what used to involve hundreds of hours of tedious, painstaking and eye-straining work by archaeologists who physically sorted pieces of broken pottery into groups, in a fraction of the time and with greater consistency,” said Leszek Pawlowicz, adjunct faculty in the Department of Anthropology. Northern Arizona University at SciTechDaily | Read More >>
Essay: Museums and Propatriation
It has been a long 30 years since the passage of NAGPRA, and we still have a long way to go to right the many wrongs perpetrated by colonialist museums. Yet, as we celebrate International Museum Day [May 18], we can honor the many steps taken to transform museums into more equitable spaces. There are plenty of examples of pieces commissioned from Indigenous communities for museum display, such as the Zuni map art at DMNS and the replica G’psgolox totem pole at the Stockholm Museum of Ethnography. Propatriation is one exciting facet of the mutually beneficial collaborations to come. Stephen E. Nash at SAPIENS | Read More >>
Essay: All Houses Have Memory
All houses have memory. Life’s big occasions—the triumphs and heartbreak—drift through like smoke, leaving barely a trace. It’s the small moments they remember: the hollow at the turn of the stair, the scratches around the keyhole, or wood darkened by touch. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” wrote Annie Dillard, and the houses we spend them in record it all. David Farrier in Emergence Magazine | Read More >>
Podcast: Drones in the Classroom with Dr. Jesse Tune
Dr. Jesse Tune joins Chris and Paul to talk about their favorite subject: Drones! … Dr. Tune has a fantastic program that actually prepares his students to pass the FAA Part 107 exam and teaches them about using the right tool for the right job. Dr. Tune is a prehistoric archaeologist who studies Ice Age human migrations and the colonization of new landscapes. His research focuses on investigating the relationships between humans and the environment—specifically how humans adapt to new or changing environments. The ArchaeoTech Podcast | Listen Now >>
Video: SAA 2021 Annual Awards Presentation
The SAA Awards honor excellence in the field and support student and career advancement. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society held an all-virtual annual meeting, including this online awards ceremony to honor the 2021 winners. The award winners are read by incoming SAA president Deborah Nichols, with remarks by the SAA Lifetime Achievement Award winner Lynne Sebastian. Society for American Archaeology | Watch Now >>
REMINDER: May 20 Webinar: How Connected Was the Chaco World?
With Dr. Barbara Mills. Based on ceramic data collected as part of the Chaco Social Networks Project and using a social network approach, it is now possible to look at how the Chaco World was connected over its 300-year history in 50-year intervals. We will look at when Pueblo Bonito became central, the extent to which outlying great houses and great kivas were connected to each other and to Chaco Canyon, and the impact of the Aztec Complex’s ascendancy on the network. The results allow us to evaluate several scenarios for migration into and out of Chaco Canyon as well as how different ‘hubs’ of connectivity developed in surrounding areas. The Four Corners Lecture Series, the Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
May 23 Interview with Richard and Shirley Flint
Please join us for an interview with Richard and Shirley Flint about their new book Overhaul: A Social History of the Albuquerque Locomotive Repair Shops. Valerie Martínez, Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, will conduct the interview. National Hispanic Cultural Center and Bookworks | More Information and Zoom Link >>
Richard and Shirley Flint are Research Associates of Archaeology Southwest.
May 25 Webinar: The Upper San Juan (Rosa) to Gallina Pottery Sequence: A Mountain Tradition
Dean Wilson is examining whole vessels from the Upper San Juan River and Gallina regions of northern New Mexico during MIAC’s inventory of whole vessels as they are moved to their new home at CNMA. This presentation will describe the temper, paint, technology, and stylistic characteristics of the Rosa and Gallina pottery traditions beginning in the seventh century. Consistencies through time reflect the perseverance and continuation of material and cultural traditions that were part of a high-elevation farming strategy associated with an “Ancestral Towa” history. This trajectory culminates in the farming communities that occupied the Jemez Highlands during the Protohistoric and Early Historic periods. Friends of Archaeology and Center for New Mexico Archaeology | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
May 27 Webinar: Revisiting Chaco Road Morphology and Meaning
With Sean Field. Researchers are again turning their attention back to Chaco roads as a means of studying Chaco influence on the landscape scale. This has highlighted the need for a more nuanced understanding of what Chaco roads looked like and what they were used for. To contribute to these issues, Sean presents new research on Chaco road morphology using remotely sensed data and revisits ideas of Chaco road utility by integrating ideas of timber importation and pilgrimage. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 3 Webinar: Mimbres, the View from West Mexico
With Dr. Michael Mathiowetz. Current analyses indicate that the production of Mimbres Black-on-White ceramics (Style III) signified an ideological unity among socially diverse Classic Mimbres sites by A.D. 1000. Some contend that this ideological unity and associated symbolism reflects a Maya Popol Vuh and Hero Twins narrative derived from the Huastec region of the Gulf Coast. However, other material, ideological, and genetic evidence indicates important Mimbres ties to Aztatlán societies along the Pacific coast of west Mexico. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 17 Webinar: The Goat Camp Ruin Project
Archaeologist J. Scott Wood will present “The Goat Camp Ruin Project: Volunteer Archaeology in Central Arizona” for Old Pueblo Archaeology Center’s “Third Thursday Food for Thought” series. This on-going volunteer-assisted project he has been directing for the last 13 years eventually will result in this important Northern Salado archaeological site being developed for interpretation and incorporated into the Town of Payson’s recreational trail system. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Video Channel Roundup!
So many webinars! Catch any you missed at the YouTube channels of our partners and friends:
Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
Arizona State Museum
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Grand Canyon Trust
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project
Museum of Indian Arts and Cultures
Museum of Northern Arizona
Old Pueblo Archaeology Center
School for Advanced Research
Notice from Jeff Pappas, State Historic Preservation Officer, New Mexico: Public Opinion Survey
I am asking you to get involved in the future of historic preservation in New Mexico. Every five years my office develops a state plan to identify current preservation challenges and successes. With your involvement, we will set goals through 2031 to guide preservationists working in New Mexico. Part of the process is gathering as much public opinion as possible. This year we are encouraging participation through a survey that takes about 5 minutes to complete. We are asking our colleagues—preservation organizations and nonprofits, architects and archaeologists, firms, governments, state and national parks, Indian nations and Pueblos, consultants, students and university departments—to help us out. State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, Historic Preservation Division | Take the Survey >>
The survey is available in Spanish and English.
We’re happy to help get the word out. Please submit news, events, video links, publication announcements, and other resources to this link for consideration.