Last week I glibly noted that I was journeying to the hot, dry landscape of the lower Colorado River to achieve balance—a temperature balance—in my life. (The week before I’d been enjoying cool ocean breezes in San Diego.)
This week I can earnestly report that the incinerating three-day journey Preservation Archaeologist Aaron Wright and I took to southern Nevada helped me gain valuable perspective on the origin place of the Yuman speaking tribes that Aaron has been working with in relation to Archaeology Southwest’s Great Bend of the Gila research and advocacy.
From the highway—US 95—Spirit Mountain is 8 miles distant. It bounds the eastern margin of the broad Piute Valley, which we explored on several drives along unpaved roads. Our quick tour made clear that US 95 falls woefully short as a vantage point for appreciating this landscape. Closer views of the geological diversity, the extensive groves of Joshua trees, and the dramatic presence of the mountain itself are compelling reasons to leave the paved highway. We absorbed a great deal over five hours. We continued south, crossing the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe’s reservation. According to the Tribe’s website, “Mojave Indians are Pipa Aha Macav—‘The People by The River.’ Mojave culture traces the earthly origins of its people to Spirit Mountain, the highest peak in the Newberry Mountains, located northwest of the present reservation inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.”
On the final day of our trip, Aaron and I met Lorey Cachora and his wife Linda for lunch in Yuma. The Cachoras are Fort Yuma Quechan. We updated them on the Great Bend of the Gila protection effort, which encompasses roughly 300,000 acres of cultural landscape for an 80-mile stretch along the Gila River downstream from Buckeye.
We mentioned to Lorey that we were planning a brief stop at the Mohawk Mountains. That prompted Lorey to share how these mountains were an important communication node between Pilot Knob on the lower Colorado River and the Sierra Estrella Mountains on the south side of today’s Phoenix. I was unaware of these connections, which are clearly still vibrant in Quechan culture.
Lorey Cachora spoke—viscerally—about the connectedness of cultural landscapes. His perspective highlighted, yet again, the complexity of establishing boundaries around places to protect those lands and their special values.
And that’s why I am grateful for the expanded perspective I gained over our brief thousand-mile journey.
Have you taken any (safe) journeys this summer? What perspective did you gain?
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S., For an interesting perspective from an Australian Aboriginal writer, I urge you to read this thoughtful essay from Emergence Magazine. It ran earlier this year and I missed it, but the journal’s latest “time off” post pointed to earlier articles, thankfully.
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Continuing Coverage: Indigenous Leaders Call for Land Protections as Totem Pole Arrives in D.C.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined other Native American leaders and activists at the National Mall on Thursday to accept the delivery of a totem pole transported across the country as part of a push to protect sites that are sacred to Native Americans. The event was the final stop in the “Red Road to DC,” a two-week tour from Washington state to Washington, D.C., with visits to sacred locations throughout the U.S. Speaking at the event Thursday, Haaland called for greater inclusion of Native American voices in lawmaking in order to protect the sites. Jackson Walker in The Hill | Read More >>
Visual highlights of the totem pole’s journey. Jason Mark and Wingspan Media in Sierra | View Now >>
Zuni Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps and Forest Service Collaborate in Chavez Pass
As the sun inched higher, so did the temperatures, but record heat did not slow down a dedicated group of Zuni Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps members working alongside volunteer archaeologists at Chavez Pass, located approximately 15 miles south of Meteor Crater. The group was beginning the first phase of a long-term initiative addressing erosion issues while also documenting archaeological sites in the area. Anne Worthington in the Arizona Daily Sun | Read More >>
Reclaiming and Expanding Indigenous Foodways
“It takes 20 generations of any species of plant, animal or insect to adapt to a location,” [Roxanne] Swentzell said, recalling an article she read in a science magazine years back. “If we have been in a place for 20 generations, eating the plants and animals that have been there for 20 generations, then everything starts to line up. Generations and generations have adapted to each other in this beautiful dance.” Sam Gilbert in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read More >>
In Memoriam: Royce Manuel
Renowned Akimel O’odham artist and historian Royce Manuel died Monday in Scottsdale, surrounded by his family. He was 68. … Manuel was a citizen of the Salt River Indian Community from the Auk-Mierl Aw-Thum, or Akimel O’odham culture. He specialized in traditional O’odham arts, including bows, arrows, flutes, rattles and baskets, work he’s been doing since he was 12. Shondiin Silversmith in the Arizona Republic (azcentral dot com) | Read More >>
Commentary: Confirm Stone-Manning to Head BLM
But even as these lands are becoming wildly popular with the public, they are also facing unprecedented stresses from drought, wildfire, invasive species, and climate change. That’s why it’s so important for the agency to be led by someone who understands the competing interests on our lands, has broad experience dealing with the challenges, and has a strong record of building partnerships that last. Tracy Stone-Manning, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the agency, has just the right experience, temperament, and vision to be that leader. Jessica Goad, Brian Sybert, and Will Roush in the Grand Junction Sentinel | Read More >>
Update on Restorations at San Xavier del Bac
We talked as workers raised scaffolding up the sides of the 64-foot-tall east tower. The current conservation effort is focused on undoing earlier tower repairs that used cement plaster for resurfacing. This was once a common practice, but preservationists now know that cement prevents burnt adobe brick from breathing, trapping moisture and leading to its eventual deterioration. The project, which will cost about $1 million, is expected to be finished next spring. “Essentially, it’s removal of the concrete to the underlying burnt adobe, scraping off the concrete,” [architect Bob] Vint explains. “It’s a matter of removing incompatible materials, adding compatible materials, and then adding a lime plaster.” Reed Karaim in Preservation Magazine (National Trust for Historic Preservation) | Read More >>
Verde Valley Archaeology Center Purchases Building for New Museum
The Verde Valley Archaeology Center has purchased a vacant 11,000-sq.-ft. building in Camp Verde to be the new home of an expanded museum and collection center. The museum space will expand three-fold to provide expanded archaeological exhibits, and will include 500 sq. ft. for fine art of the Southwest. The new Paul Dyck Collection Center will offer a state-of-the-art storage facility that will be four-times larger than the current space. Located at 460 W. Finnie Flats Rd., it is just two miles from Interstate 17. The Grand Opening is planned for November 25. Learn More >>
SAA Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains Follow-Up Report
The SAA Board is pleased to announce publication of a report by the Committee on Native American Relations and the Committee on Repatriation describing the steps they used to create the recommended language for the updated Statement Concerning the Treatment of Human Remains. The board hopes publication of the report is a helpful roadmap and exemplar of the collaborative consultations within our Society and with other important constituents. Society for American Archaeology | Read More >>
Deadline Extended: NAGPRA Coordinator
The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology (MMA) at the University of New Mexico seeks a Senior Collection Manager (working title NAGPRA Coordinator) to coordinate compliance, consultations, repatriations, and other activities associated with ensuring the Museum’s compliance the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. We seek a dynamic professional with significant experience in NAGPRA compliance to help steward MMA’s NAGPRA efforts. Maxwell Museum of Anthropology | Learn More >>
REMINDER: Aug. 10 Webinar: FRANK Talk: What Is Decolonization and Why Does It Matter?
The history of colonialism and how to “decolonize” is a hot topic among Indigenous peoples, anthropologists, and historians. Colonialist thinking empowers some segments of society but exploits or marginalizes others. Phoenix College’s Rowdy Duncan explains how colonialism has shaped our thinking and actions, and steps we can take to decolonize our thinking. Arizona Humanities and Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Aug. 12 Webinar: Pre-Hispanic Musical Instruments in the Southwest
Emily Brown will describe the various types of musical instruments used in the Pre-Hispanic Southwest and what we know of their development and distributions in the context of the history of the Pueblo cultures of the region. 6:45 p.m. MDT. Chimney Rock Interpretive Association | More Information and Zoom Link >>
Aug. 19 Webinar: Pre-Hispanic Copper Artifacts from New Mexico’s Mimbres Area
Christopher Adams will discuss 18 copper bells, 6 other copper artifacts, and 73 native copper nuggets he has identified in approximately 30 Mimbres archaeological sites and in New Mexico museums’ Mimbres collections. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Podcast: Field Season with Carlton Gover
This week, Anna and Amber sit down with archaeologist, podcaster, and member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Carlton Shield Chief Gover. We talk about his path to archaeology, an Indigenous perspective on archaeology as history and heritage, how to prank your site supervisor, and more! The Dirt | Listen Now >>
Job Opening: Bookkeeper/Office Manager, Archaeology Southwest
The Bookkeeper & Office Manager works with, and under the direction of, the Director of Finance and Operations to support all staff and to ensure an effective and smoothly functioning office. Learn More >>
See you next week! Hope back-to-school goes well for everyone for whom that phrase has meaning…