“It’s impolite to talk behind someone’s back” is a phrase I’ve heard since I was a youngster. (Let’s not talk about how long ago that’s been…)
So I guess I’m going to be impolite today.
Skylar Begay, who began his work with Archaeology Southwest in January as a Tribal Outreach Fellow, happens to be out of the office this week. He’s participating in a four-day training session sponsored by the Conservation Lands Foundation.
We were able to hire Skylar through a special grant by the Wyss Foundation’s Fellows Program. They provide applicant organizations with 80-percent funding to support a Fellow for two years. The Wyss Foundation offers a great deal of leeway regarding the specific individual who is hired. And they make it very clear that their goal is to help train future conservation leaders.
Archaeology Southwest embraced that goal fully. Reflecting back, it is impressive how the Wyss Foundation trusted us. Their faith in us boiled down to three words: Future Conservation Leader.
We implemented what I consider to have been a grueling search process. We met so many outstanding candidates we know will be or are already leaders. We fretted and stressed over how to be confident we were hiring a future conservation leader.
In the end, we were unanimous: Skylar Begay.
Rather than continue to talk behind Skylar’s back, I want to direct you to his own words in his blog post published last Friday, also linked below. Sure, Archaeology Southwest and our partners are sharing knowledge and experiences with Skylar, but he is unequivocally teaching us as much or more.
Read his blog. In less than a decade, I predict you will be watching/reading the news and say: Of course—Skylar Begay, Conservation Leader.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Lifeways of the Little Colorado River
November is Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate and honor Indigenous lifeways, we’re launching a new multimedia project written, filmed, and produced by Native voices. “Lifeways of the Little Colorado River” is a collection of stories from sheepherders, scientists, artists, farmers, and more that features personal and cultural ties to the Little Colorado River. From pilgrimages down the Hopi Salt Trail, to medicinal plants growing along the riverbanks, these first-person stories trace cultural values of the river as it flows 330 miles across ancestral lands to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Contributors include Bernadette Adley-SantaMaria (White Mountain Apache), Lyle Balenquah (Hopi), Dr. Karletta Chief (Navajo), Dr. Herman Cody (Navajo), Jim Enote (Zuni), Radmilla Cody (Navajo), Franklin Martin (Navajo), Ramon Riley (White Mountain Apache), Octavius Seowtewa (Zuni), Bennett Wakayuta (Hualapai), and Delores Wilson-Aguirre (Navajo). Hopi artist Ed Kabotie contributed two original drawings to the digital collection. Grand Canyon Trust | Experience Now >>
Video: Behind the GoogleDoodle: Celebrating the Late We:wa
In honor of Native American Heritage Month in the U.S., [November 1st’s] interactive Doodle—illustrated by Zuni Pueblo guest artist Mallery Quetawki—celebrates Zuni (A:shiwi) Native American fiber artist, weaver, and potter the late We:wa. As a Łamana (thah-mah-nah), the late We:wa was a revered cultural leader and mediator within the Zuni tribe, devoting their life to the preservation of Zuni traditions and history. A special thank you to the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center for their key support on this project. GoogleDoodles | Watch Now >>
Interior Shares Draft Plan for Indigenous Youth Service Corps Conservation Program
The U.S. Department of Interior released some rough guidelines Thursday for the Indian Youth Service Corps Program. According to a press release, the Indigenous youth corps will work on conservation projects in public, tribal and Hawaiian lands. The department committed to consulting with tribes, Alaska Native corporations and Native Hawaiian communities on the program. … The corps was established when the Public Lands Corps Act was expanded in 2019 via the signing of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019. Emma Gibson for Arizona Public Media | Read More >>
Audio is also available at that link.
Blog: On Archaeology
Growing up, I was always told by my elders that anything related to those who came before us was to be treated with the utmost respect. I was told that it was okay to pick things up and to take a look, but never to break or remove that artifact from its natural place. Some of my friends were told not to pick up an artifact whatsoever. I was taught that if I knew I was going to be around a site, to be mindful beforehand, and to be very deliberate in walking onto that site with a good intention and energy. Similarly, I was told to be observant while exploring a new area, so that I would not inadvertently find myself in a site. Skylar Begay at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
New Study Examines Chaco Residents’ Impacts on Their Environment
David Lentz, a biology professor and lead author of the study, said many researchers have the idea that Chaco was too arid to sustain day-to-day living and that the infrastructure built over many centuries at Chaco was used only as a periodic ceremonial center and storage facility. Lentz said that explanation is too simplistic and that his team turned up evidence to support human management of the area’s environment to support daily life. Susan Montoya Bryan in the Washington Post | Read More >>
Read the open-access paper, “Ecosystem Impacts by the Ancestral Puebloans of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA,” (Lentz et al. 2021) at PLOS ONE >>
Harvard Peabody Announces Interim Research Policy for Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects
The Museum will not authorize research (including analytical sampling) on human remains or associated funerary belongings without permission from authorized Tribal representatives. This applies to items that have been culturally affiliated and items that are, under current NAGPRA regulations, deemed culturally unidentifiable. Given the process of determining whether objects can be designated as sacred objects or objects of cultural patrimony under NAGPRA, these items will have restricted access once they are repatriated or are under active consultation. … In cases where Indigenous communities (including state-recognized tribes) seek access to collections and documentation as part of their own research, the Museum will facilitate access without the requirement of written authorization from related Tribes, either federally or state recognized. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University | Read More >>
Documentary Release: However Wide the Sky: Places of Power
The history and spirituality of the Indigenous People of the American Southwest are deeply rooted in the Land. Since the beginning of time, they have been stewards and protectors of their home lands, past and present. These places intimately connect the People and their beliefs to the natural world. No place is ever abandoned, the landscape is forever living. This is their story of the Land and who they are. However Wide the Sky: Places of Power documents the rich history and significance of the Land, and answers the question–Is all Land Sacred? Silver Bullet Productions | More Information >>
Nov. 4 Webinar: A Just Transition
With Winona LaDuke. “A Just Transition” focuses on the move away from fossil fuels and into an economy that is supportive of wild rice and hemp. LaDuke will discuss the need for a graceful transition to an economy that is economically sustainable and unprejudiced for all. She will acknowledge the importance of Indigenous knowledge in creating a fair transition that is beneficial for everyone. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
REMINDER: Nov. 9 Webinar: Indigenous Views on Ancestors, Archaeology, and Interaction with Archaeologists
With Cultural Affairs Specialist Jefford Francisco. Mr. Francisco does archaeological surveys on Tohono O’odham lands and helps educate communities, schools, and monitor groups about respecting Hohokam and Tohono O’odham sacred sites, plants, and animals. Third Thursday Food for Thought (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Nov. 9 Webinar: Art and Activism
With Ricardo Cat. Ricardo, cartoonist for the Santa Fe New Mexican, will discuss how he started his career as a cartoonist and how this cartoon pivoted his career towards activism. Ricardo (Santo Domingo Pueblo) is a father of 3 as well as a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Marine, and cartoonist. He draws “Without Reservations,” the only Native cartoon that appears in a mainstream newspaper as a daily (Monday through Saturday). His cartoon has appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper since October of 2007. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Nov. 10 Webinar: Casas Grandes—Escaping Pueblo Space
With Stephen Lekson. Paquimé, the 14th-15th century capital of the Casas Grandes region in northern Chihuahua, was recognized after 1960s excavations as something profoundly different from other Southwestern societies, ancient or modern—the most cosmopolitan, externally connected society in the ancient Southwest. Recent work, however, tends to treat Paquimé as a late, local example of Pueblo-like societies, returning it to what could be called “Pueblo Space.” It was more than that. San Juan Basin Archeological Society | More Information and Zoom Link >>
Nov. 15–Dec. 20 In-Person Lecture Series: Ancient Sites, Ancient Stories
We are delighted, relieved, and excited to announce the return to in-person Southwest Seminars, a collection of six lectures running Mondays at 6:00 p.m. Admission is by paid series subscription. Proof of COVID vaccinations required, and must be submitted along with payment in advance. First up, on November 15, John Ware, “Why Is a Kiva?” Southwest Seminars | More Information and Series Schedule >>
Nov. 17 Webinar: Tewa Pueblos at the Dawn of Atomic Modernity
With Dmitri Brown. In late 1942, Manhattan Project officials evaluated potential locations for their scientific headquarters. They found a site that met their needs on the Pajarito Plateau in the western hills of the Tewa Pueblo world. Employing traditional patterns and dynamics, Tewa communities had long drawn strength from accommodating potentially shattering modern incursions like the railroad, pottery markets, and archaeology. They used these same traditions and experiences to meet the coming of the Atomic age. Viewing the Manhattan Project in the context of the Tewa world, this talk offers an opportunity to understand the connections between physics, history, and Tewa philosophy. School for Advanced Research | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Nov. 21 Webinar: Chaco and Me
For over four decades, much of Stephen Lekson’s archaeological research was focused on Chaco Canyon. This presentation is an “autobiography” of a set of ideas about one of the most important archaeological sites in the Southwest. The Friends of Coronado Historic Site | More Information and Zoom Link >>
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
The Archaeological Conservancy
See you next week! Remember to send us notice of upcoming webinars and Zoom lectures, tours and workshops, and anything else you’d like to share with the friends.