I may soon be overwhelmed by positivity.
It started at the Summit hosted by the Conservation Lands Foundation last week. That was one of the best professional gatherings I have ever attended.
And today, I get to meet our 2022 field school students.
We spend two days with the students in Tucson before they head to the Upper Gila River region of New Mexico. It’s a pretty intense introduction to Preservation Archaeology.
The first stop is Himdag Ki, the Tohono O’odham Nation’s cultural center. From the very start, the students are introduced to the original and rightful owners of the lands where Archaeology Southwest is currently located.
Afternoon orientation at the Archaeology Southwest office is followed by a social hour and dinner.
Thursday begins with an early morning tour of a protected Hohokam ballcourt village. It begins the process of learning to read the subtle yet visible surface clues that reveal a dynamic settlement from a thousand years ago. We continue a short distance to the community of San Xavier del Bac (Waak) where many descendants of the region’s Huhugam ancestors reside today.
We’ve found that interaction with O’odham, Hispanic, and Franciscan community members, exposure to the plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert, and seeing several centuries of architectural history are an effective crash course in awareness and appreciation of Tucson’s vibrant multicultural landscape.
It’s a good start to the upcoming six weeks of this year’s Preservation Archaeology Field School, which is a partnership with the University of Arizona School of Anthropology with support from the National Science Foundation.
I never fail to be inspired by our students’ initial enthusiasm and amazing subsequent growth. They are a great source of positivity. (Truly—my PAT co-editor Kate and other staff members tell me I actually glow when I’m interacting with the students.)
Watch this space for the students’ blog posts over the next eight weeks,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. On my drive home from work yesterday evening after drafting this note, I heard about the latest in a seemingly endless string of mass shootings. I seriously considered nixing any mention of positivity. Positivity helps me maintain sanity, though. And the multicultural focus of our field school seeks to be an antidote to racism and intolerance, in its own small way. Still, this grandpa’s heart hurts.
Banner image: A previous field school cohort at San Xavier
13,000-Year-Old Ocher Mine in Wyoming
Archaeological excavations led by Wyoming’s state archaeologist and involving University of Wyoming researchers have confirmed that an ancient mine in eastern Wyoming was used by humans to produce red ocher starting nearly 13,000 years ago. That makes the Powars II site at Sunrise in Platte County the oldest documented red ocher mine—and likely the oldest known mine of any sort—in all of North and South America. The excavations, completed shortly before the 2020 death of famed UW archaeologist George Frison, confirmed theories he advanced stemming from research he began at the site in 1986. University of Wyoming News | Read More >>
An Experiment on the Terminal Ballistics of Ancient Atlatl Darts and Arrows
Projectile weapons were essential to the daily lives of ancient people. Although studied by archaeologists for decades, questions and misconceptions remain about the potential of spears, darts, and arrows to incapacitate prey. This project uses an experimental approach with replica weapons, skilled users, and modern observational equipment to study the terminal ballistics (impact and penetration) of stone-tipped atlatl darts and arrows, yielding needed data about early hunting capabilities. Devin Pettigrew (UC Boulder) and Donny Dust at Experiment | Learn More >>
A New Beginning for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
President Biden’s restoration of the monument boundaries provides crucial protection for these landscapes. Biden’s action also symbolized restorative justice — for the tribes with strong connections to these powerful landscapes, and for the land itself. The task ahead of us is to fulfill the promise of healing and justice on the ground and in the management of the monuments moving forward. Lines on a map are powerful and important, but it is what happens within those lines that determines whether we are being responsible stewards of the land. Mike Popejoy in Advocate Magazine (Grand Canyon Trust) | Read More >>
Elected Officials Urge Interior and White House to Permanently Protect More BLM Land
On May 24, 2022, The Mountain Pact released a letter signed by 123 local elected officials from Western states that calls on the Biden administration to protect more Bureau of Land Management lands as part of the administration’s America the Beautiful initiative. The initiative is an effort to protect, conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030 in response to the warning by scientists that globally we must conserve and restore at least 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 if we hope to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems and mitigate the impacts of climate change. … “Nationally, only 14% of BLM lands are permanently protected. As a result, many of the areas important to our citizens and visitors are at risk of being unnecessarily degraded or lost.” The Mountain Pact | Read More >>
Time to Care: Fund America’s National Conservation Lands
Congress recently passed the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations bill with $49 million for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to care for and manage National Conservation Lands. That’s a 7.5% increase in funding from the previous year! While this funding is a step forward, it’s still not enough. We’re asking Congress to provide at least $78 million in Fiscal Year 2023 for the BLM to manage National Conservation Lands so that future generations can enjoy these beloved places. Will you urge your Senators to join us in this effort? It takes just a few minutes! Conservation Lands Foundation | Learn More >>
National Park Foundation to Fund Native Conservation Corps
The National Park Foundation (NPF) recently announced its fiscal year 2022 investment in service corps programs across the country, including support for a Native Conservation Corps. This program provides opportunities to Indigenous youth for career shadowing in natural resource stewardship and protection, along with recreational experiences at multiple National Park Service (NPS) units including El Malpais National Monument, El Morro National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Grand Canyon National Park. … Up to 12 Indigenous youth employed by the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, ages 16–18, will spend 8-weeks working alongside NPS staff, learn about career opportunities with the parks, complete important conservation projects that address backlogged maintenance projects and improve visitor access, and explore multiple NPS units in the Southwest. This year’s program will support Indigenous youth from Albuquerque and Hopi completing conservation projects at four NPS sites, including Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park (press release) | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: SITLA–Bears Ears Land Swap Approved
The state’s exit from Bears Ears National Monument took a crucial step forward Tuesday with Utah lawmakers’ approval of a substantially revised land swap that would transfer 165,000 federal acres, land spread around rural Utah with high development potential, to the state. The exchange has been touted as a windfall for the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, or SITLA, which manages state lands to raise revenue for public schools, because the agency would gain lands that are far more easily monetized than the archeologically rich and scenic lands it is giving up. Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
Tribal Land Reclamations in the News
For decades, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe pressed the federal government to give back tracts of northern Minnesota land it wrongfully took from the tribe in the 1940s and 1950s. Now, Washington is close to returning nearly 12,000 acres. … “A robust land base is the foundation of tribal sovereignty, and self-determination lands from [within] the geographic reach of our jurisdiction supports our tribal population,” [Faron Jackson Sr., Tribal chair] said [in 2018 testimony before a US Senate committee]. “It is the basis of our economy, and provides an irreplaceable forum for our cultural vitality, practices.” Melissa Olson for North Star Journey (MPR News/NPR) | Read More or Listen Now >>
Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen Galen Cloud complained about traffic during the 10-hour drive from Okmulgee, Oklahoma, to his tribe’s homeland near Oxford, Alabama—before recalling how his ancestors had to walk that distance against their wills. “You think about it and you’re filled with madness, and then you just feel the pain and then you just hate to imagine what all they went through, just to get here,” Cloud said. He was headed to Oxford, where city and tribal officials have worked to protect nearby lands of the Arbeka people, whose ceremonial town was located there pre-removal, according to RaeLynn A. Butler, Muscogee Nation’s Historic and Cultural Preservation Department manager. The Arbeka site is just one of the projects—from Alabama to Michigan to Kansas—where tribes are increasingly buying back or being gifted back property in their ancestral homelands, either to build economic sustainability or to manage cultural preservation sites. Nancy Marie Spears for Gaylord News via the Tucson Sentinel | Read More >>
Eelgrass—An Ancient, Historical, and Future Superfood
“The Comcaac are the only people, the only Indigenous group, that consumes the seed,” said Erika Barnett, a Punta Chueca resident who has been heavily involved in restoration efforts. Eelgrass seed has been a part of their culture for millennia, she said. Traditionally, the flour was used to make tortillas and a hot drink combined with honey and sea turtle oil. And because it’s quite filling, it used to be carried by Comcaac during sea journeys. Kendal Blust for Fronteras (KJZZ/NPR) | Read More or Listen Now >>
Terrol Dew Johnson Receives Major Award
Terrol Dew Johnson, a Tohono O’odham basket weaver whose work is displayed in permanent collections in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, was awarded $100,000 from the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation for his emerging art among craftspeople and artists across the country. Johnson, of Sells, was among five crafters nationwide recognized with $100,000 each for “their work that honors and expands their roles as stewards of cultural traditions, innovators and integrators,” according to the San Francisco Bay area foundation’s recent announcement. … “My practice is rooted in the traditional techniques and cultural memory passed on by my mentors and community,” said Johnson in a prepared statement announcing the award May 18. “It is essential that my work carry the past and gather what is available in the present; whether that be technologies, tools, materials, or forms. All materials are from the land and I know the importance of giving back to the environment.” Carmen Duarte in the Arizona Daily Star (tucson.com) | Read More >>
Podcast: Digging to the Other Side
On today’s podcast, Jessica Yaquinto hosts the crew of the Digging to the Other Side Podcast. We talk about what got them all interested in archaeology, how the podcast was created, what topics they cover, and why it is important to have a podcast on archaeology and related topics across the Americas through the perspectives of Asian-hyphenated archaeologists. Heritage Voices | Listen Now >>
Audio: Craig Childs on Rock Art
Nature writer Craig Childs says that the placement of rock art in the American Southwest isn’t random. It matters where it is in a canyon, where the canyon rests on the plateau and where the rivers are. To find rock art, Childs writes, “Walk around clapping and when you hear a good echo, go look.” This leads Childs to believe that the rock art of Indigenous peoples are more than drawings—they’re ancient communication. Pictographs and petroglyphs turn the Colorado Plateau into “a book that can be read. […] They are a window into ancient dreaming.” RadioWest (KUER/NPR) | Listen Now >>
Upcoming Book Talks with R.E. Burrillo
Southwest archaeologist and writer R.E. Burrillo will host readings and conversations on his new book “The Backwoods of Everywhere: Words from a Wandering Local.” The collection of nonfiction stories will be published by Torrey House Press in June. Burrillo traveled extensively as a seasonal worker in national parks. He settled in the desert Southwest and credits the red rock canyons of Grand Gulch for his recovery from a four-year battle with neurological Lyme disease. He has worked as an archaeologist in the Bears Ears area since 2006. Jim Mimiaga in the Durango Herald | Learn More >>
Publication Announcement: Facilitating Tribal Co-Management of Federal Public Lands
Washburn, Kevin K., Facilitating Tribal Co-Management of Federal Public Lands (October 27, 2021). 2022 Wis. L. Rev. 263–328 (2022), U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-45. >>
May 2022 Edition of the SAA Archaeological Record
The Magazine of the Society for American Archaeology, Vol. 22, No. 3. Opens in a digital viewer. >>
Calling Citizen Scientists: 2022 Archaeology Research Program, Cortez CO
Crow Canyon’s experiential education programs not only provide instruction in archaeological techniques but also involve citizen scientists in the actual research process. This firsthand approach increases awareness of, and appreciation for, our rich cultural heritage, while providing broad-based support for archaeological research, preservation, and cultural continuity. As a “citizen scientist,” you’ll conduct research and in-field artifact analyses alongside Crow Canyon archaeologists in an effort to help us build new, relevant understandings of the past. For lifelong learners age 18 and up. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn More >>
Summer Camp: Presidio San Agustín del Tucson
Sessions on living history, re-enactment, regional cultures, archaeology, and more. Spots still available! Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum | Learn More >>
May Subscription Lectures (In-Person, Santa Fe)
May 30, Steven H. Lekson, Azteques, Cliff-Dwellers, Anasazi, Ancestral Pueblo…What’s in a Name? Southwest Seminars | Learn More >>
REMINDER: May 26 Webinar: The Central Arizona Project and the Taking of Diné (Navajo) Resources
With Andrew Curley. Using archival documents, this presentation accounts for the colonial politics necessary to bring Colorado River water into Phoenix and Tucson. It highlights how the following moments worked to enlarge Arizona’s population and power while denying Diné water claims: the 1922 Colorado Compact, Arizona’s 1960s campaign for the Central Arizona Project, and recent Indian water settlements between Arizona and Navajo Nation. The infrastructures that emerged from these events formed a coal–energy–water nexus reliant on Navajo coal while constructing Arizona’s water network. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 2 Webinar: Sand, Stone, and Songs
With Vincent MacMillan. Hopi speakers, in the ceremonies and stories of their thriving pueblos in eastern Arizona, refer to the landscape of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument as Tawtoykya, meaning “the place where the songs came from.” For archaeologists and other modern visitors, echoes of these “songs” are heard when viewing the skill and wisdom built into the Monument’s majestic standing prehistoric stone structures. Puebloan individuals, families, and communities developed and refined architectural techniques that allowed them to thrive in this landscape for hundreds of generations. This talk will discuss the methods for creating accurate digital and analog records of these vital cultural places that are so critical to their future interpretation and preservation. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and Four Corners Lecture Series | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 9 Webinar: Altered Landscapes
With Michael Namingha. Michael Namingha’s (Tewa/Hopi) Altered Landscapes series comprises abstract, photography-based works that juxtapose geometric shapes in bright neon colors against black-and-white aerial landscapes from the Four Corners region. The compositions are mounted to shaped plexiglass, creating the illusion of three-dimensional works. Altered Landscapes addresses the environmental impact of the oil industry around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, a national historic park sacred to the ancestral Puebloans, and the Black Place, Navajo Nation’s Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
If you’d like to support New Mexico wildfire victims, consider these options shared by our friends at New Mexico Wild >>
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.