If you are working, I hope your work life is slowing a bit. Today—Wednesday—is a field day in the Sonoran Desert, my ideal way to ramp down. Thursday should be a very quiet day. I wish you all some quiet days ahead, no matter how you’ve been spending your days lately. I hope you can find time and space to reflect. Seems clear we all need it.
Last night Archaeology Southwest had a small gathering of staff and volunteers on our office patio. (We took advantage of the clement winter weather here in Tucson.) It was wonderful to share food, drink, and conversation with my dear friends and colleagues.
A year ago, even an outdoor gathering wasn’t an option. This year it felt appropriate and safe.
In this final issue of Southwest Archaeology Today for 2021, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you, our readers and supporters. I have engaged with you on many topics: birds, climate change, restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, and goals for new protections of public lands. There has been much to celebrate, and there remains much to accomplish.
I appreciate your notes in response to many of mine. Please, keep them coming!
Optimism, a commitment to healing, and a stubborn resolve are essentials to carry us into and through the coming year—let’s do this together.
I wish you peace, love, safety, and security as we step into 2022.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Paso por Aquí: Big Jim Griffith, Borderlands Anthropologist and Folklorist, Has Passed
Tucson folklorist “Big” Jim Griffith died over the weekend. His nickname came from his six-foot-seven-inch stature, but he also stood tall in the community as the founder of Tucson Meet Yourself and promoter of cross-cultural understanding. Griffith, who appeared for years on AZPM’s TV show Arizona Illustrated telling stories of Tucson’s history and culture, was 86. Interviewed a few years ago, he remarked that fully half of the people who complimented him on his segments, did so in Spanish. “So, it struck me that one thing I was doing as a favor for that population is showing public respect and appreciation for regional culture, and in this particular case Mexican culture,” Griffith told AZPM. Christopher Conover and Steve Jess for Arizona Public Media (NPR) | Read more >>
And while Tucson Meet Yourself was how most people knew of Jim Griffith, he was so much more. His books and tours of the Spanish missions of Sonora created an awareness of the history and context of some of the jewels of the desert. His collections of traditional and sacred stories and lore of this region and its people fleshed out history better than Ken Burns could in all of his films. To many from outside Tucson, he was the distinguished Dr. James Griffith, anthropologist and folklorist and the creator of the University of Arizona’s Southwest Folklore Center. Daniel Buckley in the Tucson Sentinel | Read More >>
No one can fill “Big Jim” Griffith’s shoes, for he—more than any other Tucsonan—triggered enormous and lasting community pride in our “folk” traditions of music, food, santos, architecture, and border culture. … Fortunately, several of his most memorable books and recordings will be around forever. As he often said about his extensive archives, “Our chivos [goats] are your chivos.” Gary Nabhan in the Tucson Sentinel | Read More >>
Archaeologists Confirm Location of Erased, not Abandoned, Historical Black Cemetery in Florida
Several years ago, [Barbara] Sorey-Love helped form the Clearwater Heights Reunion Committee, a group of people who grew up in the neighborhood before it became a victim of urban renewal. The group began asking questions about the old St. Matthews cemetery. It was closed in the mid-1950s and sold to developers who were supposed to move the graves to a new location. Using ground-penetrating radar and later by excavating, archaeologists found something many residents had suspected—most of the graves had never been moved. Greg Allen for NPR | Read More or Listen Now >>
What to Do about Spruce Tree House?
How to keep the sandstone arch above Spruce Tree House at Mesa Verde National Park from further collapse is being discussed by the National Park Service, which is reviewing three options, including one to let nature take its course. The popular attraction, which houses the third-largest cliff dwelling in the park, with 130 rooms and eight kivas, has been closed to the public since October 2015 because of concerns that layers of sandstone could peel away from the arch at any time and fall on bystanders below. Spruce Tree House may be seen, however, from an overlook near the Chapin Mesa Museum. Kurt Repanshek in National Parks Traveler | Read More >>
Personal Adornment in Global Perspective
Across countries, continents, and centuries, humans have felt compelled to adorn themselves. A new book edited and co-authored by Hannah Mattson, Southwestern archaeologist and an assistant professor of Anthropology at The University of New Mexico, explores personal adornment as components of human identity and practice, as well as symbols of wealth, power, and status. Mary Beth King for the UNM Newsroom | Read More >>
Commentary: Chaco Needs Permanent Protections
If there is no permanent protection, we are playing the game notoriously orchestrated by the Great Gambler, a historical figure among Indigenous peoples of the Southwest. Diné (Navajo) people know this historical and spiritual being as greedy and exploitative. Nááhwiilbiihi (“Winner of People”) kept people captive inside Chaco Canyon for gain and profit to eventually build the ancestral sites in and around the region. Like the Great Gambler, we are gambling with the lives of people today by not providing permanent protection for the lands surrounding Chaco Canyon National Historical Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the ancestral homelands to pueblo and Diné people, has been threatened by oil and gas drilling for years—including in the Navajo chapters of Counselor, Pueblo Pintado and Torreon. Alastair Lee Bitsói in the Albuquerque Journal | Read More >>
Commentary: Protect Castner Range
For over 50 years, the El Paso community has been working hard to see Castner Range protected and since 2014 the Castner Range Coalition has been working to see it designated as a National Monument. Recently, with the help and support of U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, Castner Range is closer than ever to receiving designation as a National Monument through the Antiquities Act. The Biden Administration, which has said conservation is one of their priorities, can grant the designation. Patrick Nolan in the Las Cruces Sun News | Read More >>
Teaching Resource: Indigenous Archaeologies
In this unit, students will learn about archaeology being conducted by, for, and with Indigenous peoples. They will read about ethical practices and viewpoints in Indigenous archaeologies that are reshaping the possibilities for collaborative work and the potential for archaeological projects to be driven by the needs of the communities it impacts. SAPIENS | Learn More >>
Job Opportunity, NAGPRA Collections Specialist (Tempe AZ)
The School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University seeks to hire a qualified NAGPRA Collections Specialist to be responsible for locating, documenting, and assessing funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). Duties include the review of records, documentation of artifacts, updating of collections information and inventories, and the supervision of student interns and employees. Close Date: January 14, 2022. Arizona State University | Learn More >>
Blog: On Archaeology
Over the last 12-plus years, I’ve worked in 20 states for about 10 different companies. I’ve water-screened globs of rusty hull from a Civil War shipwreck in Galveston, uncovered tools made of Knife River chert at a bison kill-site excavation in northern Minnesota, and recorded 1920s cars discarded in gullies near San Diego. I’ve cooked innumerable electric-skillet dinners in sketchy motels and lost my sanity in two remote man camps (more about those below). I’ve been charged by a brown bear in Alaska and shot at twice (on purpose, I believe, on BLM land in Arizona and Oregon… go figure). Shannon Cowell at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
Video: Archaeology at the Haynie Site: Investigating a Chacoan Outlier on the Colorado Plateau
With Jim Walker and Kellam Throgmorton. The Archaeological Conservancy and our partners at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center were recently notified that the Haynie Pueblo Archaeological Preserve will be awarded the Stephen H. Hart Award for Historic Preservation at a ceremony on February 7, 2022. History Colorado presents this award annually, recognizing and celebrating exemplary archaeology and historic preservation projects across Colorado. The Archaeological Conservancy and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Watch Now >>
Notice: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Closed for Holiday
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is scheduled to be closed to the public three days each year, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Independence Day. This year, the Monument will be closed Saturday, December 25, 2021, for the Christmas Holiday, including all buildings and access to the park grounds. The monument will resume operations at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 28. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument >>
See you in two weeks! 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.