The Archaeology Southwest–University of Arizona Preservation Archaeology Field School students arrived on Monday. Many are students who would have traveled to Tucson a year ago, had COVID not struck.
They’re a diverse group. A great triangle from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to Maine generally encompasses their geography—if we consider China an outlier.
We expose them to southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert over an intensive two days. And the heat was definitely intense today (though it could have been worse).
We introduced them to Hohokam ballcourts, visiting one yesterday morning, talking about one Archaeology Southwest protects yesterday afternoon, discussing a small one in Oro Valley, and visiting two this morning while you are reading this.
It’s a lot to take in. But hopefully direct experiences, repeated discussion, a bit of youthful imagination, and applied heat—slightly above body temperature—will help bake this story in.
Samuel Fayuant of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Cultural Affairs Office joined us for much of the day. He shared some of the complex issues that are created by an international border that bisects the traditional lands of the Tohono O’odham.
And Samuel connected us with Father Bill, the Franciscan who heads the Parish at San Xavier del Bac, located on Tucson’s south side on the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Father Bill gave us a personal tour of the San Xavier church, delivering a powerful perspective for the students.
His role at San Xavier—the beauty and significance of which make it more than worthy of its designation as a National Historic Landmark—is to serve the local Tohono O’odham community in a living church. Is there an ideal balance between local and global demands on a special place like San Xavier? Or will such demands always be imbalanced? It’s a dilemma. And it has broader implications for experiences that students will have later in their time with us.
As always, the youthful energy of our new field school students delights me and boosts my optimism. And I hope we have sown seeds for productive thought and exploration in our students’ minds as they begin this rich experiential opportunity.
I’m looking forward to sharing their stories with you via their blog posts over the next eight weeks.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
The field school is made possible, in large part, by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (NSF REU 1851763).
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