A week from today, the bill to establish a Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area (H.R. 8719) will have a hearing before the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington, DC. It will be heard along with two other bills (H.R. 8108, Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Lands, and H.R. 8109, Tribal Cultural Areas). Together, these bills total 105 pages of legal language.
A good bit of my Labor Day weekend was spent untangling that jargon, querying the big picture, and pondering things as small as the word “and” here and the word “or” there.
A central theme links these three bills. Each would give Indigenous citizens an expanded voice in the management of the nation’s public lands. This is obviously a positive—our nation’s public lands are the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples.
I’ve also spent time reading the lawsuit the State of Utah filed seeking revocation of the restoration of Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Another 84 pages of legal language. We’ll join many others who will work to counter this lawsuit.
My intense focus on words, their meaning, and the language of laws and lawsuits had me ready for a change of pace. I opened an essay in Emergence Magazine titled “My Name is Beauty.” Its author is Diné poet Jake Skeets.
Interestingly, after spending so much time reading seemingly unending words that were intended to help or hinder Indigenous groups and persons, I found an Indigenous poet whose words were intensively focused on language.
Skeets speaks of “interrogating” language—a surprisingly legalistic phrase. It reminded me of what I was trying to move away from. But he does so much more.
He offers stories and examples of the transformative power of language. He highlights his poet’s view when he says, “Poets are unlike novelists or essayists in that way because they suffer over the smallest alignments and misalignments within language.”
I recommend you spend some time with Skeets’s essay—which, as he says, is not an essay. Or a poem. But is an opening. Audio is also available at the link.
Although my co-editor Kate and I don’t claim the mantle of poets, we actually do “suffer over the smallest alignments and misalignments within language.” It’s all part of our commitment to bring you news, thoughtful essays, and useful information every week.
My mom was a Language Arts teacher,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. If you haven’t expressed your support for establishing a Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area, please go to the Respect Great Bend website and do that now.
Banner image: R. E. Burrillo
Capturing Day-to-Night in Bears Ears
For the September issue of National Geographic, photographer Stephen Wilkes traveled to some of America’s most picturesque landscapes. Using his signature “day to night” photography, he captured everything from sunrise to moonrise in one frame. His images illustrate National Geographic’s cover story on how America needs to change its habits in order to conserve nature. One of Wilkes’ most striking images, which graces the issue’s cover, was taken in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Shot over the course of 36 hours, it required Wilkes and his team to make a strenuous one-hour hike carrying 75-pound backpacks filled with equipment. Jessica Stewart in My Modern Met | See and Read More >>
A Primer on the Antiquities Act and National Monuments
Over the last week, America’s national monuments and the Antiquities Act have been in the news thanks to elected officials in Colorado asking President Biden to invoke the Antiquities Act and other executive powers to protect lands that are part of the CORE Act, which is stalled in Congress despite near-universal support in the state. At the same time, Utah’s attorney general filed a lawsuit challenging President Biden’s use of the Antiquities Act to confirm the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, which President Trump had attempted to shrink in an action that was also challenged and not resolved before he left office. The Center for Western Priorities, which tracks Antiquities Act developments as part of its work advocating for America’s public lands, has answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Act and America’s national monuments. Aaron Weiss for the Center for Western Priorities | Read More >>
In Memoriam: Phil Hanceford
Phillip Howard Hanceford, conservation director at The Wilderness Society, an environmental attorney, conservationist and musician, died on Aug. 14 in Denver. He was 41. Hanceford, a University of Colorado Law School graduate, worked at The Wilderness Society for 15 years championing protection of public lands in the West — “from Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to conservation areas in the Pacific Northwest, the Mojave Desert, and countless other places,” according to a statement on the society’s website. Kieran Nicholson in the Denver Post | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage: Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Supports Great Bend of the Gila Conservation Act
The bill will establish the 47,000-acre Palo Verde National Conservation Area, the 330,000-acre Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area, and nearly 60,000 acres of new wilderness. “The SRPMIC emphatically supports the Great Bend of the Gila Conservation Act,” said SRPMIC President Martin Harvier. “The proposed legislation not only will establish two new conservation areas and protect cultural heritage lands important to the O’odham, it also ensures that associated tribal governments would be consulted on the co-management of the designated lands.” Chris Picciuolo for O’odham Action News | Read More >>
Learn more about efforts to permanently protect the Great Bend of the Gila >>
ICYMI: Proposed Nevada National Monument Avi Kwa Ame’s Story >>
Ancient Forms of Democratic Governance
Across different regions of precontact North America, institutions that enabled broad participation in democratic governing characterized Indigenous societies that had no kings, central state governments or bureaucracies, [Jacob] Holland-Lulewicz and colleagues, report March 11 in Frontiers in Political Science. The researchers dub such organizations keystone institutions. Representatives of households, communities, clans and religious societies, to name a few, met on equal ground at keystone institutions. Here, all manner of groups and organizations followed common rules to air their opinions and hammer out decisions about, say, distributing crops, organizing ceremonial events and resolving disputes. Bruce Bower for Science News | Read More >>
ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change Welcomes New Faculty
With the start of the new school year, the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, an academic unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, has welcomed three new members to the school’s faculty [Christopher Caseldine, India Schneider-Crease, and Helen Elizabeth Davis]. “We are very excited to add these three esteemed researchers and educators to our faculty,” said Christopher Stojanowksi, director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. “Each of them brings a unique perspective and expertise to our school.” Nicole Pomerantz for ASU News | Read More >>
University of North Dakota Commits to NAGPRA Compliance after Disturbing Discovery
Today, the University of North Dakota (UND) announced it discovered “dozens” of Native American human remains and “several hundred objects taken from Indigenous lands and communities” that the school is working with tribal nations and federal officials to catalog and return. In March of this year, faculty and staff found the human remains and cultural objects boxed in the basement of a derelict anthropology building on campus while searching for a missing sacred item on campus. “At that moment, my heart sunk into my stomach,” said UND Professor Laine Lyons (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), a member of the University’s recently formed NAGPRA compliance committee, on the moment the first ancestor was identified on campus on March 3. “It was at that moment that I knew we were at another institution that didn’t do the right thing.” Jenna Kunze for Native News Online | Read More >>
The 16th Season of Archaeology Café: Better for It
Welcome to the 2022–2023 season of the Archaeology Café, an eight-part series in which we explore the complexities of collaborative research. Together, we’ll learn from this season’s presenters—experts who are conducting collaborative archaeological research that looks toward a more holistic understanding of the meanings and values of heritage. Join us on the first Tuesday of each month from October through May to hear more about trust-building processes, crucial steps for creating and nurturing relationships, and lessons learned from minor or major stumbles. Gather with your fellow Archaeology Café community members over Zoom and be prepared to expand your thinking—we are! Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn More >>
Our first presentation will be by Davina Two Bears and Ruth Van Dyke on Oct. 4 >>
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. Southwest Seminars | Learn More >>
REMINDER: 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. 15 Webinar: The Sinagua: Fact or Fiction?
With Peter Pilles. Arizona’s Sinagua archaeological area has been characterized by some as a blend of cultures but by others as a separate culture. Pilles will explore whether “Sinagua” refers to a geographic area, a specific kind of pottery, an actual grouping of people, or something else. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 16 Exhibition Opening: “Humanhood in the Organ Mountains”
Thousands of years ago, the first inhabitants of this region left behind evidence of who they were, how they lived, and what they believed in. Today, researchers at New Mexico State University are wrapping these ancient artifacts in the knowledge and understanding of Native Americans to share with the community through an upcoming exhibition called “Humanhood in the Organ Mountains: Prehistory.” Members of the public are invited to see these artifacts and hear Zuni tribal members explain their meaning. The exhibition opens with a reception from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 at the University Museum in Kent Hall at NMSU. The event is free and open to the public. Minerva Baumann and Isabel Darancou in the Las Cruces Sun-News | Learn More >>
Sept. 17–18 Event: 24th Annual Prescott Indian Art Market
We are all filled with anticipation for our guests to experience over 100 juried artists, bringing the best of their works to this year’s event. The weekend brims with experiences: visual arts, performance arts, arts experiences for children, and culinary arts featuring Indigenous foods. This event for the Sharlot Hall Museum is about celebrating the arts and culture of Indigenous tribes throughout our region. Many of these artisan families have attended for years and are eager to welcome new and returning guests. All the works follow the guidelines established by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) by the US Department of the Interior, assuring that the objects are authentically Native-American-made—and for PIAM—handmade. Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott e-News | Learn More >>
Sept. 22 Event: Annual Equinox Sunrise Observation at Chaco
The public is invited to join the Chaco Culture National Historic Park for the annual equinox sunrise observation, a centuries-old tradition, on Sept. 22. “If the skies are clear, visitors will see the sun gently rise above the horizon to shine directly through two perfectly aligned windows that flank the entrance to the Great Kiva Casa Rinconada,” a news release from Nathan Hatfield said. “This alignment is another wonderful example of the Ancestral Pueblo practice of using architectural features to track what was happening in the sky above.” Visitors may go to Casa Rinconada when the gates open at 6 a.m. This program is limited to 100 people. Chaco’s Astronomy Festival follows the next two days. The Durango Herald | Learn More >>
Oct. 1 Virtual Field Trip: The Great Cave Murals of Baja California
With Kirk Astroth. “Hidden in the sierras of Baja California, in some of the most forbidding terrain, are thousands of brilliantly painted images and deeply etched petroglyphs that have survived for centuries in remote caves and shelters. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, there are more than 80 caves with layers of pictographs and numerous petroglyphs—many off limits to tourists or just too hard to get to. In March 2022, I was able to participate in a rigorous mule trip into these canyons and arroyos to see a small fraction of these ancient images. Guided by local vaqueros, riding mules, and accompanied by 12 burros who carried all our gear, we stayed near ranchos down in three canyons where local Californios live in some of the most remote locations. This presentation will highlight portions of this incredible 20+ kilometer trip with a total elevation gain and loss of 10,000 feet, to see amazing pictographs that the Mexican archaeological bureau (INAH) dates to be more than 10,000 years old.” Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Nov. 15 Webinar: Accessing Archaeology: A Conversation on Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage
With Dorothy Lippert, Desireé Reneé Martinez, Peter Nelson, Anastasia Walhovd, and Joe Watkins. Archaeology lets us explore what it means to be human, but the field is shaped by those who participate in it and the knowledge systems they prioritize. This 90-minute panel discussion will highlight the importance of recognizing and including Indigenous traditional knowledge and perspectives as five Native American archaeologists share their experiences and challenges in a field created by colonizers. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History | 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. (And Friends, please do let us know if your channel isn’t in this list but should be!)
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
Verde Valley Archaeology Center
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.