Sometimes a blow is external—other times, internal.
I got one of each over the holiday weekend.
Apropos of our yearlong focus on “Avian Archaeology,” a Cooper’s Hawk that inhabits the Eucalyptus tree next to my house hit me on the back of the head at full speed, talons out, on Saturday morning. He and his mate are starting a family, and I must have seemed like a threat. There was blood, but no permanent damage. I did learn that the words avian and archaeology(ist) don’t always go together as gently as I had thought…
Later on Saturday, I learned of the passing of David R. Wilcox, a remarkable archaeologist whom I first met in 1972. Dave had been battling cancer, but in my last email exchange with him in late February, he closed with an enthusiastic “Onward!” I was not prepared to hear that it was over for Dave, just three months later. That internal blow is taking longer to adjust to.
Dave’s impact on what we refer to as Hohokam archaeology was huge—and somewhat accidental. In 1975, in her role as project director at the Cultural Resource Management Division at the Arizona State Museum, Linda Mayro (transparency—Linda is my wife) hired Dave to lead the detailed recording of the walls of the Casa Grande, the four-story adobe construction built in the mid-1300s (and which became the nation’s first federal archaeological preserve in 1892). Dave was always deeply interested in archaeological stratigraphy, and the exposed wall surfaces of the Casa Grande were an extremely complex set of stratigraphic layers.
Dave worked meticulously with Lynette Shenk over many, many days in the field and then compiled his draft report. Linda thought the report was excellent, and she asked him to add a chapter on the cultural context of the Casa Grande—how did it fit into what was known about Hohokam archaeology?
Dave all but disappeared for many months. In that interval, he read just about everything ever written on Hohokam archaeology. The resulting extra chapter was thorough and impactful. Most importantly, it drew Dave deeply into the Hohokam region as a research focus. His Casa Grande report and his subsequent career will inspire and agitate those engaged in Hohokam archaeology for generations.
After finishing that chapter and report, Dave still had a problem. He had pretty much ceased communications with Arthur Jelinek, his dissertation committee chair. Dave was writing a dissertation on a site he’d excavated northeast of Show Low, Arizona. Sheepishly, Dave visited Dr. Jelinek in his office and gave him the update on his “disappearance.” Dr. Jelinek asked Dave to provide him with a copy of the report and set a follow-up appointment. When Dave arrived at the appointment, Dr. Jelinek was taciturn and looking thoughtful. Eventually, he held up Dave’s manuscript and simply said, “This looks like a dissertation.”
Dave, being Dave, resisted. But eventually he accepted the fact that his dissertation was going to force him into adulthood, as a Hohokam archaeologist. And we are all grateful for that outcome.
Dave did much for Archaeology Southwest over the course of his career, but I’ll share that in another note sometime.
Until next week,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Banner image: A dream team of colleagues and friends who participated in a Zuni Origins seminar in 2001. Dave is third from right in the front row. Second from right is the late Jane Hill, a celebrated linguistics expert.
The Lands Between
In recent years, Friends of Cedar Mesa has assisted in leading a group of core partners—including leaders from the region’s Tribes and Pueblos, Indigenous-led organizations, archaeologists, and conservation groups—in a collaborative effort to advocate for the protection of the “Lands Between,” located between Bears Ears, Canyons of the Ancients, and Hovenweep National Monuments. This landscape is an integral part of a contiguous cultural landscape that connects Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bears Ears, and beyond. The “Lands Between” is an ancestral and spiritual home of the Hopi, Zuni, the Rio Grande Pueblos, Nuche (Ute), Diné (Navajo), Paiute, and other Indigenous people, that preserves a history of human occupation dating to at least the Archaic period (6,000 to 2,000 BC). This region is the most archaeologically rich swath of public lands in the United States that remain unprotected against oil and gas leasing. Ana Siegel for the Friends of Cedar Mesa | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Why Avi Kwa Ame Should Be Protected as a National Monument
“The center of creation.” That’s how Tribal leaders have described the treasured place known as Avi Kwa Ame in southern Nevada. This land of ancient Joshua tree forests and dramatic desert terrain is the ancestral homeland of 12 Indigenous tribes and contains important wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas. But in recent years, there has been pressure to develop in and near Avi Kwa Ame, potentially threatening numerous important cultural and natural sites. The Wilderness Society | Read More >>
Place Names and Perception
Place names and the stories behind them define how we perceive and connect to landscape. But we live in a world populated by places named for colonizers: Libraries, streets and counties across the country bear names like Washington, Jefferson and Jackson, while “San”s and “Santa”s dot the Southwest, shadowing California’s coast in missionaries’ cloaks. Can we even see the land underneath those names, in all its complexities? And what is the impact on the mind—especially the Indigenous mind—of a lifetime spent repeating colonizers’ names, invoking their stories? Brian Oaster in High Country News | Read More >>
ICYMI: Glen Canyon Sites Re-emerge
When the dam that created a major American reservoir was built decades ago, Native American cliff dwellings and artifacts were submerged. Now, they’re emerging as drought lowers water levels. Melissa Sevigny on All Things Considered (NPR) | Listen Now or Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Camp Naco
The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Camp Naco in Bisbee, Arizona as one of its 11 most endangered historic places for 2022. Naco was built to establish a greater military presence on the U.S.-Mexico border in the early 1920s. Troops housed at the camp included the Buffalo Soldiers, referring to the Army’s African American cavalry regiments. … “It’s got a significant physical place in history, and I think the way that the Buffalo Soldier groups from across the country see this as a special place in their history elevates it,” [Bill] Doelle said. Mark Brodie interview of Bill Doelle for The Show (KJZZ/NPR) | Listen Now >>
Scroll down that page to access the audio with Mark Brodie, which builds on the original story by Nick Sanchez.
Podcast: The First Black Archaeologist, John Wesley Gilbert
There have been many foundational people in archaeology and the life and achievements of one are now fully coming to light with a new book from Oxford University Press. The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert (Oxford University Press 2022), written by Dr. John W. I. Lee is a fascinating tale of an archaeologist that paved the way for so many that came after him. Join us as we learn about John Wesley Gilbert, the first Black Archaeologist. John W. I. Lee interview by Chris Webster and Rachel Roden on The Archaeology Show (Archaeology Podcast Network) | Listen Now >>
Podcast: Protecting the Past
Utah has launched a “Pledge to Protect the Past” campaign to protect archaeological sites and artifacts. And Utah State Historic Preservation Office public archaeologist Elizabeth Hora says that summer often brings an increase in vandalism to important preservations of the past. Elizabeth Hora and Angelo Baca, representing Utah Diné Bikeyah, join us. Access Utah (UPR/NPR) | Listen Now >>
Video: Fire and Archaeology
The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is pleased to bring you our third and final season of Chat with the Archaeologist. In the third season, our guest archaeologists will be diving deep into archaeology mysteries and misconceptions. For our two-week-delayed finale, host Chester Liwosz connects recent events to archaeology’s relationship with fire. Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project | Watch Now >>
Blog: They’re Baaaack, 2022 Edition
Our 15 [Preservation Archaeology Field School] students this year come from 10 different colleges, 9 states, and a wide range of different backgrounds and interests within our field. They’ll be introducing themselves to you as their blog posts appear over the next few weeks. Our time together is spent mostly outdoors and is very busy, with a full schedule of archaeological survey work for the Gila National Forest, experimental archaeology work replicating ancient structures and technologies, and test excavations at Gila River Farm, a 14th-century Salado village that was plowed, driven over, and otherwise impacted before being purchased and protected by the Nature Conservancy. Karen Schollmeyer at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
If you’d like to attend in-person lectures at the Preservation Archaeology Field School in Cliff NM, click here >>
If you’d like to attend the field school’s in-person Archaeology Fair in Cliff NM, at which students present their individual research projects without technology, click here >>
Exhibition Announcement, Fort Sumner Historic Site NM: Bosque Redondo: A Place of Suffering…A Place of Survival
The Long Walk took place between 1863 and 1868 when the U.S. government forced the relocation of Diné and Ndé peoples from their homeland in present-day Arizona to eastern New Mexico, across more than 350 miles. Over those five years, about 9,500 Diné and 500 Ndé were tortured and imprisoned by the U.S. military on the Bosque Redondo Reservation. Designed through a partnership with the Navajo Nation and the Mescalero Apache Tribe, “A Place of Suffering…A Place of Survival” features voices for the first time from the communities most affected by the Long Walk in the form of oral histories (in English, Diné, and Ndé), contemporary quotes, and imagery to explain what life was like before, during, and after the Bosque Redondo Indian Reservation system. New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (press release) | Learn More >>
June Subscription Lectures (In-Person, Santa Fe)
June 6, Ricardo Caté, Here to Make You Laugh Again! June 13, Sean Dolan, Learning from Obsidian. June 20, David Grant Noble, Vietnam Passages, 1962–1963. June 30, Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, Women of Bears Ears. Southwest Seminars | Contact for More Information >>
June 2 Webinar: Rethinking Monuments and Memorials
Conversations about statues and other public monuments have become painfully contentious in recent years. This webinar considers fresh and creative approaches to preserving public memory without opening old wounds. Join moderator Estevan Rael-Gálvez with panelists Regina Chen (MASS Design Group) and Kaitlin M. Murphy (author, Mapping Memory: Visuality, Affect, and Embodied Politics in the Americas) for “Rethinking Monuments and Memorials,” a virtual presentation and live Q&A. School for Advanced Research | More Information and Registration >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
June 16 Webinar: Diné History’s Impact on Jewelry
Nanibaa Beck, a second-generation Diné (Navajo) jeweler, provides a history of Diné jewelry over the century, focusing on changes in each decade. She will relate the shifting techniques, styles, and meanings of the art over the years to important events in Diné history including the impact of boarding schools, training schools, and access to new styles and materials on Navajo jewelry over this expanded period of time. Third Thursday Food for Thought (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 16 Webinar: Through the Lens of a Navajo Photographer
In this session, we will dive into understanding the ideals and techniques of Priscilla Tacheney—a Navajo photographer who has delved into the creative work of landscape, portrait, and conceptual art photography throughout her career. The session will delve deep into some concepts of each piece of work over her career with breaking down the inspiration for layout of landscape, portraits and conceptual retelling of Navajo legends with a complex showcase. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
June 20 Webinar (and In-Person, Tucson AZ): Strong Foundations and Promising Futures: Collaborative Efforts between the Professional and Avocational Archaeological Community
With Steve Tomka. This presentation will provide a brief history of the collaborative endeavors forged between professional and avocational archaeologists over the last few decades of archaeological research. It will highlight some successes that stand out as positive examples and will outline some future directions that could be pursued to strengthen cooperative relationships between professional and citizen archaeologists for the benefit of the field. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Video Channel Roundup
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
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA
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
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.