When a mentor of the highest order passes, it prompts deep reflection.
Last Thursday, R. Gwinn Vivian (1935–2022) passed peacefully. I consider Gwinn my highest-order mentor. And I am merely one among many who feel similar gratitude and loss.
If it weren’t for Gwinn, I would be somewhere else. I wouldn’t be writing this.
Gwinn was an important teacher when I was in graduate school at the University of Arizona in the early 1970s. He taught a particularly good, very practical class in cultural resource management.
In the late 1970s, Gwinn was my dissertation chair. And he played a role in adding some extra steps to earning my Ph.D.
In 1977, Gwinn took a phone call from a California environmental firm. They needed an archaeologist to carry out a one-day archaeological survey in southwestern Arizona. Gwinn schooled the caller: Given the need for a written report on the survey, they should budget for at least three days.
Then Gwinn gave them my phone number, and shortly thereafter I was out surveying on the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. A year later, Linda Mayro and I moved to Santa Barbara to begin full-time jobs with the same firm. It delayed my dissertation’s completion by two years, but it compensated me for much of the effort.
That California job jolted into gear in 1977—and slammed to a stop in 1981 when President Reagan canceled the project.
In 1981, I—deeply stressed—flew back to Arizona and had a very important lunch with Gwinn. He helped me see the potential opportunity of opening a private-sector cultural resource management organization. So, in January 1982, when Linda Mayro and I were both unemployed and Linda was five months pregnant, we loaded two drugged cats and all our worldly possessions into two cars and drove back to Tucson.
A mentor is someone who helps you see beyond the sometimes dark and fearsome reality of the present and guides you to envision something far, far greater. And that is what Gwinn Vivian did for me and for Linda Mayro.
And we are just a small sample of the beneficiaries of Gwinn’s humanity, generosity, and ability to inspire.
My friend and colleague Paul Reed shares his own Gwinn remembrance here. At the end of Paul’s remembrance, we have included links to additional opportunities to connect with Gwinn and his legacy.
With a heavy yet profoundly grateful heart,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. from Kate: I was fortunate to be a graduate student employee in the Arizona State Museum’s archaeological repository during Gwinn’s final decade at ASM before his retirement, a portion of which, if I recall correctly, he also served as acting head of collections upon Jan Bell’s retirement. I was so impressed by his kindness, humor, and style—and truly, he had STYLE. And no matter how many years passed between our very brief encounters over almost three decades, he, a veritable archaeology rock star, always remembered and called me by my name, a consideration that always struck me deeply, and which I strive to emulate.
Banner image: Acoma landscape, Karen Schollmeyer
Blue Corn, Melons, and the Climate Crisis
On a windy winter day in Acoma Pueblo in north-western New Mexico, Aaron Lowden knelt beside a field near the San Jose River, the tribe’s primary irrigator for centuries. “The soil has been building up,” said Lowden, an Indigenous seed keeper and farmer, pushing his hand into the soft, dark dirt at the base of a stalk of dried Acoma blue corn. In the summer, this otherwise dry stretch of land turns into a “food forest”, said Lowden, pulling up a photo on his phone showing lush rows of corn, intercropped with Hopi yellow beans, and Acoma winter squash—the “three sisters” of Pueblo agriculture. Samuel Gilbert in the Guardian | Read More >>
April 28 Webinar: The Sacredness of Practicing Ancestral Pueblo Agriculture and Adapting to Modern Changes
With Reyna Banteah. What does it mean to be an Indigenous female farmer in this day and age? Individual interpretation and experience varies from person to person, but in essence, it is a story of survival. Indigenous people have all been given inherited gifts and various passions for the continuity of Indigenous culture. This is a story of survival, healing, re-connection, and remembering what it means to be a restorative and reciprocal steward of the land. Every seed planted in the ground is an act of ensuring Indigenous cultures survive. Leaning into ancestral Pueblo agriculture is a life way that also fortifies healing along the way. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Podcast: Repatriation Is Our Future
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, or NAGPRA, is supposed to curb the illegal possession of ancestral Native American remains and cultural items. But a year after it was passed by the U.S. federal government, a significant African burial ground in New York City was uncovered. And there was zero legislation in place for its protection. Dr. Rachel Watkins shares the story of the New York African Burial Ground—and what repatriation looks like for African American communities. SAPIENS | Listen Now >>
Video: Archaeology in the Popular Black Press
With Dr. Justin Dunnavant and Daratu Mulugeta. As increasing calls for science communication encourage archaeologists to convey their research to diverse public audiences, we found it necessary to explore how such research was disseminated in the past. Delving into the archives of Ebony Magazine and the Johnson Publishing Company, we examine the manner in which archaeological research was communicated in the Black popular press from the 1950s into the present. The articles, authors, and subjects provide unique insight into the topics of interest to Black America and speak to the power of the Black press at educating and exciting the public about ground-breaking archaeological research. Engaging Ebony Magazine as a historical archive, we uncover little-known figures and moments in the history of African and African diaspora archaeology and offer suggestions for future directions in science communication research. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA | Watch Now >>
Archaeology Café Welcomes Chris Schwartz, Pat Gilman, and Steve Plog on May 3 for “Birds of the Sun”
Macaws and parrots are colorful birds generally native to areas south of the border between the US and Mexico, but they are present in numerous archaeological sites in Arizona and New Mexico, as well as at the very large site of Paquimé just south of the border in Chihuahua. Archaeologists have paid too little attention to these birds except to highlight the existence and possible importance of interactions between the peoples of Mesoamerica and the US Southwest and Mexican Northwest. This presentation will focus on recent detailed analyses of these birds and what we know about them as a result. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Interview with Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM Director
[As] the director of the BLM, Stone-Manning is tasked with overseeing one out of every 10 acres of land in the U.S. She leads an agency that hasn’t had a permanent director since 2017 and that’s struggled with staff recruitment and diversity following a botched headquarters relocation to Grand Junction, Colorado, during the Trump administration. Through it all, Stone-Manning must balance the desires of ranchers, energy developers and recreationists who all want different things from public lands. High Country News recently caught up with Stone-Manning as she was traveling from Albuquerque to Farmington, New Mexico, to ask about how the BLM will achieve its conservation goals, the role the agency might play in addressing the climate crisis, and more. Kylie Mohr in High Country News | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Changing Harmful Place Names
Davina Smith, a Diné organizer and tribal coordinator with the National Parks Conservation Association, said she has been working with the Utah Division of Indian Affairs, state and tribal leaders on the need to change such names. “To give a historical context regarding the word ‘squaw’, it derived from the Algonquin language, it may have once simply meant ‘woman,’ but over generations as early as the 1600s, the word morphed into a misogynist and racist term to humiliate Indigenous women by non-Indigenous people,” Smith said. “Since then, Indigenous women such as myself have had to endure the verbal abuse and trauma…until now.” Alastair Lee Bitsóí in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: SITLA Pleads for Bears Ears Land Swap
The state trust lands encircling Cedar Mesa and Bears Ears Buttes hold priceless cultural treasures, but they are not of much use to SITLA [School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration], whose mission is to generate revenue for public schools from its 3 million acres of formerly federal land that was given to Utah when it became a state in 1896. “Our land exchange, while it’s kind of driven by the monument, it’s not really all about the monument,” SITLA deputy director Chris Fausett recently told the Emery County Public Lands Council. “These are lands that have been identified for exchange out of SITLA hands for a long time, even going back to [former Rep.] Rob Bishop’s PLI [Public Lands Initiative]. Most of these lands were part of what was to be traded out. They’re lands that are tough for us to monetize.” Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
REMINDER: April 20 World Premiere (Fox Theater, Tucson AZ): Canyon del Muerto
The Arizona International Film Festival is hosting the world premiere of Canyon del Muerto, a film about Ann Axtell Morris, a University of Arizona graduate and pioneering female archaeologist. The film was produced by First Line Films and the Navajo Nation during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 with the support of multiple local Navajo chapters, businesses, and land users based in and around the two central locations of the film; Canyon De Chelly, Arizona and Red Rock National Monument, New Mexico. Arizona International Film Festival | Learn More >>
REMINDER: April 21 Webinar: The Mimbres Twins and Rabbit in the Moon
With Marc Thompson. Images on 1000–1130 CE Mimbres culture pottery bowls depict the Pan-American apologue of the Hero Twins saga. Mimbres pottery motifs appear to represent the birth, trials, tests, death, and resurrection of the Hero Twins. Third Thursday Food for Thought (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
REMINDER: April 23 Webinar: T-A:ga (Our Story): An Introduction to the Culture and History of the Tohono O’odham
Bernard Siquieros will speak about the O’odham—their land, language, history, food, and way of life—all encompassed by the O’odham word himdag. You will learn about the traditional territorial extent of the O’odham, and the many ways that O’odham himdag and O’odham traditional lands in the Sonoran Desert are forever intertwined. Amerind Museum | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
April 24 In-Person (Evanston IL) and Webinar: The Pueblo III to IV Transition in the American Southwest
With Dr. Vincent LaMotta, University of Illinois at Chicago. Chicago Archaeological Society | More Information and Zoom Link >>
April 25 Webinar: The Enduring Legacies of Old Spanish Law and Water Rights in the American Southwest
Since the mid-1800s, two international treaties have obliged the United States to protect the property rights of Mexicans and Native Americans living in a region of North America that once belonged to Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase provide important constitutional guarantees that often have proven difficult to fulfill. Historian Michael Brescia will explain the difficult historical and legal issues involved in certain disputes over natural resources throughout the American Southwest, while interspersing stories from his archival and field research that highlight the intimate connections between individuals, their communities, and the enduring impact of Spanish colonialism and U.S. expansionism on North America. $5 fee supports the museum. Salon and Saloon Series (Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum) | More Information and Registration >>
April 26 Webinar: Arizona’s Vintage Signs
With Marshall Shore. Arizona has become a hotbed of preserving vintage signage and neon. No wonder, with the rise of Arizona and automobile travel in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Thousands of people were traversing the broad expanses of highways and byways across the Southwest. As the cars sped past, restaurants, motels, curio shops and gas stations needed large, bright signs to make an impression. This informative and entertaining visual presentation explores the social significance of the rise of commercial neon signs, and references the designers whose signs became iconic. AZ Humanities and the Surprise Art and Culture Commission | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
April 27 Webinar: Southwestern Rock Calendars and Ancient Time Pieces
With Allen Dart. Native Americans in the U.S. Southwest developed sophisticated skills in astronomy and predicting the seasons, centuries before non-Indian peoples entered the region. In this presentation, Dart discusses the petroglyphs at Picture Rocks, the architecture of the “Great House” at Arizona’s Casa Grande Ruins, and other archaeological evidence of ancient southwestern astronomy and calendrical reckoning, and interprets how these discoveries may have related to ancient Native American rituals. AZ Humanities and Friends of Ironwood Forest | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
April 28 Webinar: Vigango, Ancestors, Sacred Objects, and Informed Consent
With Dr. Stephen E. Nash. During the last two decades, increasing awareness of the frequently illicit origin of archaeological objects has resulted in changes to acquisition policies in American museums. In addition, many museums are re-evaluating the ethics of collecting and working with indigenous communities to return or reinterpret sensitive cultural heritage. For more than 15 years, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science has taken a leadership role in repatriation and international returns by going above and beyond the letter of the law(s), using the principles of justice, dialogue, reciprocity, and respect to guide their activities. This talk examines the museum’s success, and occasional failure, through a series of case studies: the return of 30 vigango (ancestral grave posts) to the Mijikenda tribes of coastal Kenya, and shrunken heads to the Shuar-speaking peoples of Ecuador; the reburial of non-Native human remains in Crestone, Colorado; and the repatriation of Native American ancestors to numerous Tribal Nations in the US. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology UCLA | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
April 29–30 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Agave Heritage Festival
In this two-day event, Friday features preparing agaves for roasting, firing up of the roasting pit, and sealing the agave hearts in to cook. There will be information tables, activities for kids, and a plant sale (including plants from Borderlands Restoration Network that you can pre-order), and researchers and authors Paul and Suzy Fish, Gary Nabhan, Martha Burgess, Greg Starr, and others will give talks about agave. On Saturday, come for three panel sessions on bat pollination and conservation, regenerative agave agriculture, and agave spirits, plus amazing agave-themed delicacies, agave-themed art exhibits, a plant sale, and experts at information tables. Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace and Mission Garden | Learn More >>
Happy 107th Birthday to our dear friends at the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society, founded by Byron Cummings on April 16, 1916.
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.