Today, the Great Bend of the Gila Conservation Area Act (H.R. 8719) receives a hearing before the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources. It’s an important step in an ongoing campaign to permanently protect the Great Bend of the Gila.
Not everyone is waiting for Congress to take important conservation actions. Archaeology Southwest and many others have been working with Dax Hansen, owner of Oatman Flats Ranch. In 2018, Dax committed to restoring the farm where he spent summers with his grandparents when he was a teenager. It’s private land that lies fully within the proposed Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area.
Last Friday, some 25 people gathered in Phoenix to review and discuss the Comprehensive Resource Management Plan that Dax is developing. When he began four years ago, the land was in very poor condition. By December 2021, Dax’s ranch had received the very first Organic Regenerative Farm Certification in the western US. In 2022, Oatman Flats harvested its third heritage wheat crop, focused on White Sonora wheat, which the Spaniards introduced in the late 1600s. This crop requires dramatically less irrigation water than the cotton and alfalfa typically grown in the lower Gila region in recent decades.
The focus of regenerative farming is truly holistic. The goal is to build up soil health by minimizing tillage and growing diverse cover crops—crops that resist the erosion that occurs when fields are fallow and that help enhance soil fertility. It’s a process of healing the land that is still in its early stages at Oatman Flats Ranch.
What was most exciting about Friday’s meeting was the diversity of knowledge everyone brought to the table—hydrology, soil chemistry, farm financing, rural land economics, livestock raising (sheep, in this case), archaeology, Tribal cultural knowledge, botany. Enthusiasm for collaboration and problem-solving was abundant. Each knowledge holder added to the conversation to help the Oatman Flats enterprise successfully refine its plan.
And we all saw great potential in sharing and expanding these pivotal developments at Oatman Flats Ranch. As climate change and water shortages threaten traditional agriculture in the lower Gila and beyond, regenerative farming practices and other innovations offer great promise.
I’d be interested in hearing what regenerative changes you might be making (or have long made) at home, or on your ranch or farm,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Banner image: Dawn Kish, courtesy of The Wilderness Society
Interior Issues Guidance on Tribal Co-Stewardship
The Department of the Interior today released new guidance to improve federal stewardship of public lands, waters and wildlife by strengthening the role of Tribal governments in federal land management. New guidance from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) outlines how each bureau will facilitate and support agreements with Tribes to collaborate in the co-stewardship of federal lands and waters. U.S. Department of the Interior (press release) | Read More >>
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals Celebrates 30 Years
Three decades ago, Hopi tribal elders looking for ways to address the growing air pollution challenges in and near Hopi Tribal lands reached out to Northern Arizona University seeking advice. University leaders, recognizing the necessity of working with Tribes in addressing such topics as clean air, water and lands, created the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP). This year, ITEP is celebrating 30 years of collaborations, research, outreach and Indigenous-centered environmental stewardship that has elevated Indigenous voices to a national scale and ensured the disproportionate effects of climate change on Tribal Nations are not overlooked in the national conversation. The NAU Review | Read More >>
Preserving the Sonic Environment of Bears Ears
The [Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition’s] plan calls for the creation of an auditory department that can not only protect areas that have been untouched for decades but act as a voice when fighting for strict rules on recreation and mineral extraction. “From a Hopi perspective, sounds and vibrations give life, and it is through vibrations that one can hear and connect with the spirits,” the report says. “In Hopi ceremonies, sacred tones are sung in order to connect with the spirits, and disruptive sounds break the spiritual connection with the spirits.” Hopi consider wintertime to be “the quiet season” and will even adjust their wood gathering locations to reduce noise in their villages. All five tribes in the coalition consider Bears Ears “to be a spiritual place and thus value the need for peace and quiet.” Shaun Griswold, Source New Mexico, in the Durango Herald | Read More >>
Two (Major) Ways to Support Bears Ears
There’s been a lot of news shared about Bears Ears lately: the announcement of a historic land use planning process, the release of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition’s Land Management Plan (LMP), and the State of Utah filing a lawsuit opposing restoration have all been announced in just the last week-and-a-half. Many of our supporters may be wondering, how can I help? Here are 2 ways you can support Bears Ears. Friends of Cedar Mesa | Learn More >>
To Collect or Not Collect
In part to honor the wishes of Indigenous communities with ancestral ties to national parks, archaeologists now strive to leave artifacts where they’re found. This is a significant change from the era of indiscriminately collecting Indigenous cultural objects. But with growing park visitation and the widespread use of social media and mapping apps, visitors are ever more likely to stumble upon or seek out objects that have long persisted by dint of their relative obscurity. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are exposing and damaging artifacts that were once safely buried. All of that means that leaving irreplaceable objects in their original locations also raises the risk of theft or destruction and that Park Service archaeologists are increasingly facing difficult decisions about the cultural resources in their care. Julia Busiek for the National Parks Conservation Association | Read More >>
Commentary: Close Public Lands to Leasing near National Parks and Monuments
Our national parks and monuments are full of rich history and culture and some are sacred ancestral homes to Tribes – like the Navajo, Hopi and Puebloan peoples — who have stewarded these lands for millennia. Their cultural legacies span thousands of years and, with proper protection, will endure for generations to come. But right now, national parks and monuments are under threat from the relentless push to develop and drill more wells on public lands near sacred areas and some of our most treasured landscapes. Michael Murray and Paul Reed in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read More >>
Commentary: Utah Leaders Are Picking the Wrong Fight over Public Lands
This is the place where we would again call out the Utah Legislature, Attorney General Sean Reyes and other state leaders for spending millions of taxpayer dollars on pointless political performance art. What’s frightening to realize, though, is the state’s latest legal attempt to gut the Antiquities Act of 1906 may actually have some chance of success. … The nation’s courts have long read the Antiquities Act as a decision by Congress to give broad authority to any American president to preserve federally owned land of historic or geological significance. Given that history, Utah’s objection to the creation and now the restoration of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments seemed to be without a legal leg to stand on. But the current make-up of the Supreme Court of the United States clearly undermines any confidence that long-standing legal precedent is safe. Editorial Board of the Salt Lake Tribune | Read More >>
University of Alabama Holds More Than 10,000 Indigenous Human Remains
The University of Alabama has more than 10,000 Native American human remains in its possession, according to a federal notice published by the National Park Service last week. It’s the largest number of Native American human remains ever reported in such a notice, according to the National Park Service database—nearly four times larger than the current population of Moundville, Alabama. The public Notice of Inventory Completion, published on Aug. 30 in the Federal Register, is the first step in returning the ancestors—along with around 1,500 of their burial items—to their lineal descendants across seven Muskogean language-speaking tribes: The Muscogee Nation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Chickasaw Nation, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The remains and sacred objects were primarily excavated from Moundville, an archaeological site in Hale County owned by the university, as well as adjacent sites in Hale and Tuscaloosa counties. Jenna Kunze for Native News Online | Read More >>
Publication Announcement: Linda S. Cordell
Linda S. Cordell: Innovating Southwest Archaeology, edited by Deborah L. Huntley and Maxine E. McBrinn. Museum of New Mexico Press, 2022. Learn More >>
September Subscription Lectures (In Person, Santa Fe)
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 >>
Past programs are available to pay-per-view online >>
TODAY, Sept. 14 Webinar and In-Person Event (Durango CO): Update on the Chaco Solstice Project
The public is invited to an in-person presentation on Wednesday, September 14, at 7:00 p.m. The event will be held in the Ballroom at Fort Lewis College. Anna Sofaer, President of the Solstice Project, and Richard Friedman will present recent research and progress on the film production—Written on the Landscape—conveying the remarkable expanse of the Chaco Culture throughout the Four Corners. This talk will also be available on Zoom. San Juan Basin Archaeological Society | More Information and Zoom Link >>
REMINDER: 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. 15 Webinar: Thirteenth-Century Reuse of Wallace Great House
With Bruce Bradley. Continuing excavations have contributed to our interpretation of the reuse of the 11–12th century Wallace Chaco great house in the 13th century. Work has concentrated on its central portion and the western elevated kiva, which is where the 13th-century reuse of the building is architecturally most apparent. This has also allowed for better understanding of the establishment and use of Wallace Great House in the mid to late 11th century. Results have strengthened the hypothesis of a reformulation of a Bonito House Society in the early 13th century that includes ancestor veneration. This presentation focuses upon the architectural evidence, though other key findings will be mentioned. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Four Corners Lecture Series, and Colorado Archaeological Society, Hisatsinom Chapter | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 19 Webinar: Re-Viewing the Dishes: Considering the Place of Salado Polychrome Ceramics in the Phoenix Basin
With Caitlin Wichlasz. “How were Salado polychrome (Roosevelt Red Ware) ceramics incorporated into Phoenix basin Hohokam ceramic assemblages during the late Classic period? Understanding the roles and relations of Salado pottery within local assemblages is important to building a better understanding of the social and material meanings of engagement with Salado ideas, objects, and practices. We will explore a portion of my current research on vessel form analysis and what we can learn about archaeological research and the archaeological record by carefully examining both the data and challenges along the way.” Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 22 In-Person Event: From Frontier to Center Place
“From Frontier to Center Place: The Dynamic Trajectory of the Chaco World” is the topic of the 23rd annual George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology Lecture Thursday, Sept. 22, at the University of Wyoming. Barbara Mills, a Regents Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona and curator at the Arizona State Museum, will give the Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month-sponsored lecture at 4:10 p.m. in the UW College of Business Scarlett Auditorium. A reception will follow in the George C. Frison Building foyer. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public. UW Department of Anthropology | Learn More >>
Sept. 22 Webinar: The Geology of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
With Laura Hartman. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (CANM) is situated on the edge of the Colorado Plateau; a block of (mostly) stable continental crust surrounded by complex structural systems. The ~240,000 square mile area, characterized by wind and water, preserves the 1.9-billion-year-old geologic history of the wider four corners region. Although only the upper Jurassic and Cretaceous portion of this geologic history form the canyon walls of CANM, the full Colorado Plateau story applies. This unassuming story provides insight into the formation of the region and geologic principles, and the geologic layers preserved therein, furnish materials for more modern uses. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument Visitor Center and Museum, US Bureau of Land Management, and Four Corners Lecture Series | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Sept. 30 Webinar: A Brief History on the San Xavier Community
With Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan. San Xavier del Bac is known as the White Dove of the Desert, but not many know the rich history surrounding the community called Wa:k (where the water goes in). Long before our urban centers and city lights lit up the dark desert skies, the Tohono O’odham were cultivating and shaping the land with abundant agriculture—from squash and beans to corn and cotton. For generations they passed down their rich knowledge and culture grown from their connection to the desert. Join us for a program with Ms. Ramon-Sauberan as she shares her knowledge about the history and culture of her people, the Wa:k O’odham. Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area | More Information and Zoom Link >>
Oct. 1 In-Person Class (Tucson AZ): How Did People Make and Use Stone Tools?
Experience the ancient art of flintknapping with Allen Denoyer. You will use ancient techniques and replica tools to create a stone projectile point. You will also learn more about how people made and used such points, and that points were just one component of a complete hunting technology. Please note that these classes are for individuals 18 years of age and older. Each class lasts approximately 3 hours. $40 fee. Hands-On Archaeology (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn More >>
Oct. 4 Webinar: Diné Archaeology on Chacra Mesa
Davina Two Bears and Ruth Van Dyke will discuss a collaborative project in which they re-visited and re-documented historic Diné (Navajo) sites on Chacra Mesa in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Oct. 4 and 18 Online Course: Maya and Aztec Codices
Arizona State Museum ethnohistorian Michael M. Brescia, PhD, will teach this two-session online course from 6:30 to 8:30 pm Arizona/Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesdays October 4 and 18. Dr. Brescia will examine what the codices and other manuscripts created by Maya, Aztec, and other Indigenous peoples reveal about their political, economic, social, and cultural rhythms of daily life during tumultuous times before and after the Spanish conquest. Reservations and $50 donation prepayment due by 5:00 p.m. Sept. 27: 520-798-1201 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | Learn More >>
Position Announcement: Museum Curator (Las Cruces NM)
The University Museum at New Mexico State University (NMSU) seeks a 12-month exempt staff position (permanent) for a collegial and engaged museum curator who is broadly trained to direct the development, care, maintenance, exhibition, loan, and use of collections in compliance with state and federal law. The collections consist of over 200,000 ethnographic, historical, archaeological, and contemporary objects that document the cultural diversity of the U.S.-Mexico border in the U.S. southwest and northern Mexico. Under the supervision of the Director of the University Museum, the curator will serve as a liaison between the University Museum; the Department of Anthropology; other campus museums and departments and other museums in the region. New Mexico State University | Learn More >>
Position Announcement: Assistant Professor, Anthropology (Pullman WA)
The Department of Anthropology at Washington State University seeks to hire a broadly trained scholar who draws on one or more subfields of anthropology and has developed a research focus on Native American and Indigenous communities of western North America (preferred) or other regions of North America. The position is a permanent, full-time, nine-month, tenure-track Assistant Professor position based on the Pullman, WA, campus. It is anticipated that the successful candidate will begin the appointment on August 16, 2023. Washington State University | Learn More >>
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.