It would be interesting to ask today’s residents of cities in the US Southwest a simple question: “When was the last time you visited an archaeological site?” I predict many wrong answers. Many people would say “never,” and many more would try to recall when they last visited a national park.
For most urban residents in the US Southwest, the correct answer is actually quite simple: “The last time I walked around downtown.” In fragments of open space, under city streets, in municipal parks, buried in the floodplains of rivers (whether wet or dry) are numerous archaeological sites. We may not recognize them, but we “visit” them repeatedly as we go about our daily lives.
These places are the ancestral villages, agricultural fields, burial grounds, and ceremonial centers of the Indigenous peoples of the Southwest. These places are sources of scientific knowledge about the past. And often, these places lend a sense of place to a remarkable diversity of modern residents—Indigenous people, recent arrivals, and multigenerational residents.
This week, we are announcing a new way to gain insights into this rich human history that we encounter almost daily, even if we’re not aware that we do. It’s an expanding digital tool called cyberSW. A week ago, the National Science Foundation announced a three-year grant award of just over $800,000 to Archaeology Southwest and a collaborating team to create cyberSW 2.0.
We would like you to explore the current version of cyberSW (1.0), and perhaps help us create the next version.
For example, I live in Tucson, so I drew a line around the local area and asked to see the distribution of ancient ballcourts. The map doesn’t show the exact locations of these sites—that could put these places at risk. But, because of my search, I know that there are more than 20 ballcourt villages in the Tucson area.
The layered cultural landscape is one of the things that makes living in and traveling in the Southwest so special. cyberSW offers new ways to explore this region. We are attempting to return, at least digitally, to the continuous landscapes Indigenous ancestors knew, long before lands were chopped up into parcels with specific owners. This is a unique opportunity, and we look forward to building this portal to knowledge, appreciation, and respect. It is our sincere hope that cyberSW grows and serves a broad community of users, now and into the future.
So, what are you waiting for? Go check out cyberSW 1.0, and give us your feedback! Be our volunteer UX (user experience) team. You’ll have to register first, but it’s fairly painless.
Thanks for your help,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. We’re taking next week off for a late summer break. We’ll be back in your inbox on August 25.
P.P.S. Thanks for trusting us to help you reach more people in our shared community of friends. Please submit news, events, video and podcast links, publication announcements, and other resources to this link for consideration. It makes it so much easier for us to bring you this news digest every week. Questions?
Commentary: “Now is the time to celebrate America’s public lands…”
Looking ahead, it is imperative to tell the full range of our country’s stories in existing and newly protected landscapes. This is one step in the path toward repairing harm, and building a more just and equitable society. Teresa Ana Martinez, Jessica Loya, and Eboni Preston, Next 100 Coalition, in the Albuquerque Journal | Read More >>
Commentary: Pass the STOP Act
The proposed Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act, HR 2930 and SB 1471, would bridge existing domestic and international law to prevent the export and help facilitate the international repatriation of tribal cultural heritage items. Tribes have long encountered the trafficking of items from our communities essential to our cultural practices. Many dealers know that once these items are exported abroad, they are out of our reach. Brian D. Vallo (Governor, Acoma Pueblo) in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: NAGPRA Reform
In 1990, when Congress passed a law that set criteria under which federally recognized Native American tribes could reclaim ancient burial remains and sacred objects, legislators hoped to encourage the return of items by museums and other institutions. But more than three decades later, some officials acknowledge that the law, known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, has not been as effective as they had hoped. Zachary Small in the New York Times | Read More >>
Does NAGPRA Apply to Indigenous Burials at Carlisle Indian School?
Under legislation passed by Congress in 1990 — the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) — certain cultural artifacts, funerary objects, and human remains held by museums and federal agencies are subject to a process of federal review and return to their respective tribal nations. But NAGPRA doesn’t apply to the 173 Native children buried on federal lands in Carlisle, Pa., according to the US Office of Army Cemeteries, which oversees the graveyard. … “It does apply,” Shannon O’Loughlin (Choctaw), chief executive and attorney of the Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA), said of NAGPRA. “The Army Corps has just refused to follow NAGPRA and instead has created its own form and process. Federal law has precedent over agency policy.” Jenna Kunze at Native News Online | Read More >>
NSF Award Will Help Expand cyberSW in Collaboration with Tribal Advisory Group
Archaeology Southwest is pleased to announce that a research team led by Preservation Archaeologist Jeffery J. Clark has received a generous $802,714 grant award from the Human Networks and Data Science program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project entitled “From Households to Landscapes: Cyberinfrastructure for Interdisciplinary Research in the Ancient American Southwest.” Clark’s co-Principal Investigators are Barbara J. Mills (University of Arizona), Matthew Peeples (Arizona State University), and Scott G. Ortman (University of Colorado at Boulder). The funding (award no. 2121925) will enable the team and collaborators to expand the scope of cyberSW, a massive online repository of archaeological data from the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. Archaeology Southwest | Read More >>
Read Jeff Clark’s blog post about the project >>
Video: Komatke Trail Survey, Sonoran Desert National Monument
Archaeology Southwest staff and volunteers locate and map segments of the Komatke Trail that pass through the Maricopa Mountains and into the Rainbow Valley. Video by John R. Welch; editing by Bicktorious Media. Archaeology Southwest | Watch Now >>
Blog: The Hohokam of Fort Lowell: The Hardy Site
One of the major Hohokam sites in the Tucson is the Hardy Site, located at Fort Lowell, a military fortress that was established in 1873 a few miles northeast of downtown Tucson. It is likely that the soldiers who built the fort noticed artifacts scattered about the ground. Adolf Bandelier (1840-1914), one of the earliest ethnologists and archaeologists in the American Southwest, visited Fort Lowell in 1884 and noted the presence of a prehistoric trash mound in the fort’s Parade Ground. Homer Thiel at Field Journal (Desert Archaeology, Inc.) | Read More >>
Publication Announcement: Lowland Patayan Pottery
“Lowland Patayan Pottery: A History, Crisis, and Manifesto,” by Aaron M. Wright. California Archaeology 13(1). Learn More >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
REMINDER: Aug. 12 Webinar: The Utes—Colorado’s Forgotten People
The Ute Tribes have a rich history of adaptation in a region that could otherwise be harsh. They have a timeless culture and relationship to what we call Colorado and today’s Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Tribal communities. Join Ernest House, Jr., Senior Policy Director for the Keystone Policy Center and former executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, as he draws connections between the past and contemporary life of Colorado’s oldest continuous residents. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
Aug. 19 Webinar: Being ‘Sheepminded’
With Wade Campbell. The Early Navajo Pastoral Landscape Project is a program that seeks to better understand the impacts of incipient pastoralism on the social organization and settlement patterns of early Diné (Navajo) communities in the American Southwest circa AD 1700. Recent work including an ethnoarchaeological study of contemporary Diné herding practices and a systematic study of Gobernador Phase (AD 1626–1776) Navajo sites in Dinétah, the traditional Navajo homeland in northwestern New Mexico, provide new data with which to begin to evaluate early Navajo herding practices. Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, Four Corners Lecture Series, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Aug. 26 Webinar: Preserving and Exhibiting Jewelry from Mary Colter
With Dr. Tara Travis. Join us for a discussion of an ongoing project to conserve 317 pieces of southwestern Native American silver jewelry donated by architect Mary Colter to the Mesa Verde museum collection. These items were continuously exhibited since they were donated to the park and were identified as needing conservation treatment and improved preventive care. This talk will discuss how the jewelry was exhibited in the park; the agents of corrosion that contributed to their current condition; and the conservation treatments employed to reduce the corrosion layers present on the object surfaces. Four Corners Lecture Series, Mesa Verde National Park, and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 14 Webinar: Traditional Tohono O’odham Lands South of the U.S. Border
Tohono O’odham matriarch and Vietnam veteran Ana Antone will discuss her work advocating for U.S. citizenship and the rights that go with it for Tohono O’odham communities south of the U.S. border. This is part of Old Pueblo Archaeology Center’s “Indigenous Interests” free Zoom webinar series supported by an Arizona Humanities grant. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 16 Webinar: The People Behind the Petroglyphs
Anthropologist Aaron Wright will present “The People behind the Petroglyphs: The Cultural Landscape of the Lower Gila River.” He will discuss the Indigenous communities who created petroglyphs at Painted Rock, Sears Point, and other sites, and efforts to establish national conservation areas to protect and acknowledge the richness and value of this cultural landscape. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Video Channel Roundup
It’s that time again! Find out which webinars and videos 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
See you in two weeks!