For the past two weeks and counting, I have productively applied my dated archaeological field skills to my daily life at the office. The Bates Mansion—Archaeology Southwest’s historic home in downtown Tucson—has had plumbing problems. Very serious plumbing problems.
Under what appears to be a solid floor in a large room that features a Salvador Corona mural is, believe it or not, a swimming pool (it’s one of three in the Mansion, and one is on a second floor, but that’s a story for another day). This pool was installed in the early 1960s and decommissioned around 1972. It turns out that the sewer pipes from at least SEVEN different locations in the Mansion all converge on what we call the Corona Room.
And five of them merge into a single pipe that actually runs THROUGH the abandoned swimming pool. That pool is about 90 percent intact—below the floor.
Deputy Director Linda Pierce and I have feverishly worked with a team from Fusion Plumbing. They cut through concrete floors, ran cameras up pipes of dramatically different ages and conditions, and joined us to pore over historic photos and newspaper articles. As we slowly made sense of the maze of hidden pipes, we all realized that plumbers and archaeologists have a lot in common.
One Saturday, I even put my shovel and trowel to work. On another day, I spent about 45 minutes underground “in the pool.” The single biggest discovery in this process was that a cast-iron roof drain running just outside the buried pool had deteriorated substantially. The rains we all long for here in the desert were dumping water into the soil at the base of the Corona Mural—and even into the abandoned pool.
For more than a decade, the erosion of this gem of a mural has been a frustratingly unsolvable problem. Now that we understand this vulnerability, we have another big task on our to-do list. (And/but at least the toilets and sinks are back up and running on that side of our HQ.)
My labors this week have diverted my attention from—and thus dampened my frustrations with—the State of Utah’s lawsuit challenging the restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. You’ll be hearing a lot more on that topic soon, though, as we are huddling with our colleagues and our co-plaintiffs who collectively challenged the original downsizing.
Your friend and aspiring historian plumber,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. from co-editor Kate: He is terrifying us all and we wish he would stop spelunking under the Mansion.
Banner image: R.E. Burrillo
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition Releases Land Management Plan
The purpose of the BEITC [Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition] Land Management Plan is intended to provide a synthesis of Tribal perspectives on managing the landscape of the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM). The BEITC Land Management Plan emphasizes a holistic approach to all resources that gives primacy to indigenous knowledge and perspectives on the stewardship of the Bear’s Ears landscape. Although prepared for BENM, this plan can also be applied beyond the boundaries of the Monument, as it is intended to provide the foundation for proactive collaborative management of ancestral lands that extend well beyond current reservation boundaries. Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition | Read More and Download the Plan >>
BLM, Forest Service Begin Public Scoping Period for Bears Ears Management Planning
The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service will host three in-person and two virtual public scoping meetings as part of the ongoing land use planning for Bears Ears National Monument. The public is encouraged to help identify issues or concerns that should be addressed in the planning process; input will help set the parameters and scope for the new resource management plan. “Our BLM and USDA Forest Service team is committed to developing an effective management plan for Bears Ears National Monument,” said BLM Monticello Field Manager Jake Palma. “These scoping meetings are an important opportunity for the public to inform the direction of the management plan, and we look forward to engaging with all who participate in this phase of the planning process.” U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (news release) | Read More and Participate >>
REMINDER: Participate in scoping for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with Grand Staircase Escalante Partners >>
What Timing: Utah Sues to Revoke Restorations
A day after Utah filed suit to erase the Bears Ears National Monument’s restored boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday initiated the planning process for the 1.4-million-acre monument in partnership with the five tribes that lobbied for protecting this archaeologically rich landscape encircling Cedar Mesa. … Led by Attorney General Sean Reyes, state leaders allege the Antiquities Act does not authorize presidents to designate large monuments—despite a century of case law affirming large monument designations starting with the Grand Canyon in a 1920 Supreme Court ruling. The suit also seeks an injunction blocking the administration from undertaking any steps toward implementing the monument designations. Brian Maffly in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Honoring Avi Kwa Ame
The remote mountain from which Mojave Desert tribes believe the universe unfolds rises above a corner of southwestern Nevada defined by Joshua trees, outcroppings, and fortress-like gorges that change color by the minute. For centuries, Native Americans have made pilgrimages to the 5,600-foot-high monolith they call Avi Kwa Ame, or Spirit Mountain, to seek religious visions and give thanks for Earth’s bounty. On a recent morning, Linda Otero, a Fort Mojave Indian Tribe leader, reached out as if to embrace the rugged wilderness just a four-hour drive from Los Angeles and said, “This is our church, given to us by our creator.” Louis Sahagún in the Los Angeles Times | Read More >>
Commentary: National Monuments Should Be Integral to Administration’s Conservation Agenda
President Biden should take swift action to designate culturally significant lands, such as Castner Range, as national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Making the outdoors more inclusive to people of color cannot be done without designating more national monuments to tell the history of underrepresented communities. … A comprehensive examination of 526 national park sites found that only 24.3 percent have a primary purpose of documenting historically underrepresented communities. … There are more national sites dedicated to preserving white Americans’ military history—often honoring and perpetuating violence against marginalized groups—than to any of the community groups studied. Center for American Progress | Read More >>
Indigenous Growing Traditions in Northern New Mexico
Food sovereignty is the right to access … healthy and culturally appropriate meals produced locally using sustainable methods and agricultural practices. In myriad tribal communities, food sovereignty has blossomed from a concept into a full-blown movement. [Graham] Biyáál is just one of many farmers in this part of northern New Mexico who recognize the importance of growing, harvesting and cooking as their ancestors did. For them, food sovereignty is not just about maintaining good relations with the natural world, it’s about doing so with a rising generation of traditional farmers. Lyric Aquino in High Country News | Read More >>
New Coloring Book Features Drought-Tolerant Food Plants
A new coloring book written by farmers and Indigenous artists in Flagstaff spotlights forgotten food plants that can survive hot, dry weather. And it includes packets of drought-tolerant seeds. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, the project’s creators think it’s an imaginative, inclusive way to confront the Southwest’s long-running drought. KNAU (NPR) | Read or Listen Now >>
Podcast: Poarch Identity
In this episode, host Jessica Yaquinto interviews Dr. Kelly Fayard (Poarch Band of Creek Indians), Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Denver. Jessica and Kelly dive into Poarch identity from a variety of different angles. She discusses how different historic events influenced Poarch identity in sometimes unexpected ways and where the Poarch Creek fit in with larger conversations about Indigenous identity. Heritage Voices | Listen Now >>
Blog: Experiencing and Understanding the Landscape of Petroglyph National Monument
In May 2022, we completed a week of fieldwork in the Monument. Our primary goal was to visit as many landforms and archaeological site locations as possible to develop a better understanding of this landscape. We also wanted to experience the Monument’s landscape together and begin the process of understanding the transformation of the area over time. In the sections that follow, individual team members discuss their roles on the project and share their experiences during the May fieldwork. Paul Reed, Aaron Wright, Lia Griesser, and Kurt Anschuetz at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read More >>
Blog: What We Have Learned So Far: The Early Agricultural Period in Southern AZ
The Early Agricultural period is the time span when agriculture was introduced into the Sonoran Desert and the greater American Southwest, including the Colorado Plateau and the western Chihuahuan desert. Around 2100 BC, either maize (corn) seeds were traded north from what is now Mexico, or persons moved into the region bringing both maize seeds and the knowledge of how to grow this crop. Archaeologists working in southern Arizona have divided the period into three phases based on changes in material culture and other factors: the Silverbell interval (2100–1200 BC), the San Pedro phase (1200–800 BC), and the Cienega phase (800 BC–AD 50). Homer Thiel and Gregory Whitney for Field Journal (Desert Archaeology, Inc.) | Learn More >>
September Subscription Lectures (In Person, Santa Fe)
Sept. 12, Allan Affeldt, Projects of Resilience in the Southwest: Building Communities by Creating Special Places; Sept. 19, Andrew Connors, New Mexican Jewelry: From Mexican Filigree to International Fame; Sept. 26, Erina Gruner, Chaco Canyon Priesthood Cult and Its Influences on Trade. For more information, call 505-466-2775 or email email@example.com. Southwest Seminars
REMINDER: Sept. 1 Webinar: Contexts and Resiliency: Native American Horse Relations
With Dr. Kelsey Dayle John. This presentation explores the social and historical context of horse narratives as they relate to American Indian Studies and settler colonial studies. Dr. Kelsey Dayle John will discuss the importance of Indigenous worldviews and colonial contexts for horse/human relationships in tribal communities. Drawing on her research for a current book project, she will focus on horse imagery and resiliency through Indian boarding schools. Please note that this webinar will only be available during the live presentation. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 8 Webinar: Indigenous Knowledge: Shifting Narrative, Enhancing Documentation, and Changing Policy in Museum Collections
With Brian Vallo. Collaborative projects and longer-term partnerships with Native American communities are setting a new tone for the ways in which museums learn from, and engage with, tribal experts, tribal leaders, and communities. This “movement” is influencing much anticipated and overdue change in the ways in which museums steward collections of Native American materials and develop meaningful, mutually-rewarding projects, programs, and exhibitions. Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, cultural experts, tribal leaders, artists, scholars, and other tribal resources are finding themselves at the forefront of discussions that are influencing new thought and change in museum practice. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 16 In-Person Event (Aztec NM): Traditional Southwest Food Systems and the Pueblo of Acoma
With Aaron Lowden (Pueblo of Acoma). In 2012, Aaron established the Acoma Farm Corps and has taught local youth skills central to Acoma traditional food system practices. With a strong passion for this work, he has created and facilitated the Acoma Ancestral Lands Seed Bank as well as food sovereignty gatherings and workshops for the Acoma community and tribal partners. He is now working with the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance as the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network Program Coordinator to nourish and assist the growing Seed Sovereignty Movement across Turtle Island by providing educational resources, mentorship training, outreach, and advocacy support on seed policy issues, and organizing. Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Culture Conservancy | Learn More >>
Sept. 21–Dec. 14 Online Class: The Hohokam Culture of Southern Arizona
(No class on Oct. 26.) With Allen Dart. Topics include Hohokam origins, artifacts and architecture, interactions with other cultures, subsistence, settlement, social, and organizational systems, and ideas on religion and trade. Arizona Archaeological Society Certification available. Reservations and $99 donation prepayment due by 5:00 p.m. Sept. 16. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information >>
Sept. 22 In-Person Event (Dolores CO): Star Party
Join us—along with other amateur astronomers and enthusiasts alike—for a family-friendly event exploring human connections to the stars, constellations, and celestial objects. The guest speaker will be Mary Weahkee of Santa Clara Pueblo. Mary, who works as an archaeologist for the State of New Mexico, will discuss bridging the gap between cultures using the sky as a common experience. Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, the Whirlpool Galaxy and Ring Nebula will be visible and highlighted by the telescopes. Bring your telescopes, binoculars, red-lens flashlights, family, friends, stellar stories, and questions! Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum | Find Out More >>
Sept. 22 In-Person Event (Marana AZ): Autumn Equinox Archaeological Sites Tour to Hohokam Village and Petroglyphs
With Allen Dart. The tour will start near Silverbell Rd. and Linda Vista Blvd. See an ancient Hohokam ballcourt, bedrock mortars, and other archaeological features and artifacts at Los Morteros, as well as hundreds of petroglyphs at Picture Rocks, including an equinox/solstice marker and dancing human-like and animal figures. Reservations and $35 donation prepayment due by 5:00 p.m. September 19. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | More Information >>
Sept. 24 In-Person Event (Chimney Rock CO): 10th Anniversary
Ten years ago, Chimney Rock National Monument (CRNM) was designated by Presidential Proclamation on September 21, 2012, making it the 7th national monument managed by the USDA Forest Service. The 10th anniversary of CRNM is an opportunity for the Forest Service to honor Tribal traditions, histories, influences, and continued connections to the area; recognize the work of monument partners; and highlight the Forest Service’s role in preserving the legacy of the past while providing the public meaningful recreational and educational experiences. Chimney Rock National Monument | Learn More >>
Position Announcement: Museum Technician, Tucson AZ
Archaeology Southwest is looking for a museum technician to work at the Western Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC), a division of the National Park Service (NPS). The successful candidate will be involved in museum processing and cataloging of materials housed at WACC under the control of the NPS including archeological and historical objects. Training in museum procedures will be provided by NPS museum program staff. Archaeology Southwest and WACC | Learn More >>
Lesley Kontowicz has been named as the new Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance >>
Markleigh Swanson has been named as the new Executive Director of the Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance >>
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.