A three-day weekend has given me a respite. A chance to pause and ponder. A chance to consolidate my thoughts.
First: To my surprise, many of you have expressed what I take as gratitude for my brief, usually personal thoughts that introduce this weekly news digest.
Wow. I really didn’t expect that. So, thank you to those many of you who have replied and shared your thoughts with me.
Second: There are many, many weeks when I want to express something I consider to be really substantive. But.
Even though I may have pondered a topic for much of a week, I hesitate. I’m an archaeologist. Do I really have a broad perspective on this topic I have been noodling over for seven days—or maybe more, or much more? And often I back off—I’ll come back to this later.
This weekend was a near-perfect storm. A little over two years ago (so, pre-COVID), a neighbor invited me and my wife to our local nonprofit theater (the Loft Cinema, where, pre-COVID, Archaeology Southwest presented our Archaeology Café series).
The Loft was showing a documentary on Toni Morrison. Having spent decades immersed in archaeology, I had never heard of her, I’m embarrassed to say. And I, uh, didn’t do my homework before we went to the theater.
OMG, as they say. The experience was profound.
At that time, I was well into my custom of listening to an audiobook every morning while trudging along on my elliptical. I added a Toni Morrison book, Sula, read by Ms. Morrison, to my morning routine.
OMG. The power. The lyricism. And when Morrison reads her own writing, the power and impact are a hundredfold.
At some point, I incorporated The Bluest Eye into my routine. This week, I am well into Beloved.
So, on Memorial Day, I was scanning news sources after my morning workout with Beloved. I saw that the University of North Carolina had denied tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the African American journalist who led the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project (1619 was the year the first Africans were sold as slaves in the American colonies). The article noted that the university’s largest donor had expressed “concerns” about Hannah-Jones’s lead article to the 1619 Project.
I’d read the 1619 Project article and was impressed by it when it came out over a year ago. I refreshed my memory, and indeed, its impact is staggering. You can read it here.
And then, that same day, my local newspaper reminded me that Arizona’s state legislature has passed a bill forbidding any public-school instruction about systemic racism…
And THEN I read, in the New York Times, an article about the 1921 burning of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Which leads me to suggest:
First: If you want to be amazed by where the leading edge of journalism is today, spend some time with this historical reconstruction of the local context for the murderous outbreak of white supremacy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a century ago. (And, at the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson puts the massacre in even broader historical context.)
Second: If you began to think about or furthered your understanding of systemic racism while reading that, then read the introduction to the 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Third: If you haven’t read Toni Morrison, and if you want to experience the undeniable force of language and a novelist’s indelible expression of the African American experience, then please read one of Ms. Morrison’s books. Or, even better, download one of the Audible books she narrated before her passing.
Today’s message might not seem as positive as some of my others. But in these times, we must engage serious issues—our society cannot move forward or heal without seeing, acknowledging, and redressing.
The Cooper’s Hawks I’ve been sharing space with should have their babies soon. Stay tuned,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Banner image courtesy of the National Park Service
A Public Lands Primer
Two characteristics have long marked the political decisions the nation has made regarding these lands. First, they have almost never involved sharp divisions along political party lines. Second, the trend of these decisions has been remarkably consistent—nearly always to preserve more and more lands and to hold them open to all for recreation, education, science, and conservation of biodiversity and cultural resources. John Leshy in Advocate Magazine (Grand Canyon Trust) | Read More >>
Commentary: Restore and Expand Bears Ears
President Joe Biden must keep an important promise to people who helped him win the election. He can listen to the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which went on the offensive this week to persuade Biden to restore and expand Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. The coalition launched a six-figure advertising campaign with one clear message. No more deliberating. No more delays. Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Restored Protections Will Preserve Paleontological Sites
Kevin Madalena, an independent geologist who works on Indigenous land issues in the region, met with Haaland during her visit in April. He says that looting of cultural and fossil sites is an ongoing problem in the region and that areas excised from the monuments are at greater risk than areas still protected by national monument status. … Madalena, who is Jemez Pueblo, one of the tribes with cultural ties to the region, says the biggest threat could be from resource extraction. Freda Kreier in Nature | Read More >>
Interview with R.E. Burrillo, Author of Behind the Bears Ears
Now, in Behind the Bears Ears, Burrillo intertwines his personal story with the complex cultural history of the area, examining the human history, Indigenous perspectives, archaeology, and politics of the 1.35-million-acre chunk of southeastern Utah that is at the heart of the debate over public lands in the US. Themes of “finding home” and “healing” launch compelling explorations into Bears Ears’ history. “By the time I got involved in research and conservation efforts in the Bears Ears area,” Burrillo explains, “I was paying off a rather sizable karmic debt that I felt I owed the place.” Morgan Sjogren and R.E. Burrillo in Sierra Magazine | Read More >>
Mesa Verde National Park Receives “Open Outdoors for Kids” Hybrid Learning Grant
We are excited to announce that Mesa Verde National Park is one of 32 parks to receive an “Open Outdoors for Kids” Hybrid Learning grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF)! The NPF works in partnership with the National Park Service and the park partner community to ensure that national parks reach their fullest potential and connect with as many people as possible. Learn More >>
Essay: An Excavation of the COVID-19 Epidemic
I wonder what archaeologists will find when they unearth the strange world of 2020–2021, a world upended not by a volcano but by disasters of a decidedly more human ilk. I picture them carefully sifting through the remnants in the geologic layer: discarded masks, testing swabs, and sanitizer bottles; toxic ash from wildfires and pieces of homes torn apart by a barrage of hurricanes and ice storms; caution tape from shuttered schools; records of the riot at the Capitol and unarmed Black people gunned down by the police. … When archaeologists unearth the world of 2020–2021, they will likely find more questions than answers. Sarah Ives at SAPIENS | Read More >>
Blog: 2021 Preservation Archaeology Field School Kickoff
The 2021 season of our Preservation Archaeology Field School just started, and it’s great to be back in New Mexico with this year’s students. Some things look a little different this year—we worked on COVID protocols with the University of Arizona to keep everyone safe this summer—and some of our activities have shifted a bit. Luckily, our relatively remote location and the fact that we’re outdoors almost all the time mean we’ve been able to find ways to continue many of our usual activities. Karen Schollmeyer at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
Publication Announcement: Respect the Land You Stand Upon
Respect the Land You Stand Upon, Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 34, Nos. 2 & 3, edited by Stacy L. Ryan and with an introduction by Lyle Balenquah. Learn More >>
Publication Announcement: Fort Apache Dirtscapes
“Fort Apache Dirtscapes: Sampling White Mountain Apache Tribe Lands to Enable Forensic Sedimentology and Prosecute Archaeological Resource Crimes,” by John R. Welch, Fred Nials, and Duston J. Whiting. The SAA Archaeological Record, May 2021 (21:3). Read Now (open access) >>
When you can’t come to the Museum in person, Maxwell@Home offers brief glimpses into our collections, educational resources, ongoing research, online exhibitions, and Maxwell Museum history. “Ask the Maxwell” invites you to ask us questions about the Museum, anthropology, museum careers, etc. Please email us at Maxwell at unm dot edu with your “Ask the Maxwell” question. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology | Read More >>
It’s Happening! Pecos 2021
It is official: The 2021 Pecos Conference will be held in-person in Mancos, Colorado, August 5–8. We are looking forward to sharing archaeological research once again in the beautiful outdoors. Our team is hard at work planning the event in the safest way possible. Pecos Conference | Learn More and Register >>
REMINDER: 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 3 Webinar/Book Talk: Senses of Place
In 1996 SAR Press published Senses of Place, an edited volume that originated as an SAR Advanced Seminar co-chaired by Steven Feld and Keith Basso, two anthropologists working at the forefront of their field. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the book’s publication, SAR Press will host Steven Feld (distinguished professor of anthropology emeritus, University of New Mexico), Amahl Bishara (associate professor of anthropology, Tufts University), and Kristina Lyons (assistant professor of anthropology, University of Pennsylvania) for a virtual conversation about the book’s impact, as well as more recent developments in the field. SAR Press (School for Advanced Research) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 17 Webinar: Chacoan Successors
Dr. Erina Gruner shares recent research into the exchange of Chacoan religious objects (prayer sticks, altar pieces, and ritual costume) within the pan-southwestern networks that exchanged exotic materials such as shell, parrots, and precious stone. She discusses how the migration of Chacoan religious specialists into allied peripheral centers during the late Chacoan period shifted the balance of power in the southwest, allowing the rise of rival polities: Aztec in the Middle San Juan region, and Wupatki Pueblo in the Flagstaff area. Please note that this event will only be available during the livestream, so it will not be posted to YouTube for later viewing. Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 21 Webinar: Cotton Weaving in Mesoamerica and the Northern US Southwest
With Ben Bellorado and Chuck LaRue. During the Cedar Mesa Perishables Project and Cedar Mesa Building Murals Project, we analyzed perishable collections of weaving tools and loom parts from ancient pueblos and cliff-dwellings in the greater Cedar Mesa area. Our data show that the cotton textile industry burgeoned across northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah between A.D. 1150 and 1300. In March of 2019, we took part in the first Traditional Technologies seminar in Oaxaca, Mexico. This program was sponsored by the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society and brought Pueblo weavers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and a biologist to communities of indigenous backstrap-loom weavers throughout rural Oaxaca. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
So Many Webinars!
(But not too many…) Find out which ones you missed and get caught up 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 Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention: Stage 2 Fire Restrictions
Effective Wednesday, May 26, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Bureau of Land Management Gila District, all districts of the Coronado National Forest, Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and Tumacácori National Historical Park will implement campfire and smoking restrictions in southeastern Arizona. Campfires are never allowed on the San Bernardino and Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuges. Visitors can call or check refuge websites for up-to-date information. Residents and visitors should check with respective county governments for information on implementation of fire bans across unincorporated county lands. Learn More >>
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.