Recently, I immersed myself in several books about the (rapidly dwindling) water supply of the Colorado River basin.
It’s a complex story involving the political process, massive economic investments, and the ease with which boosters and politicians were able to convince decision-makers and other people that projects would be viable by consistently overestimating the river system’s natural flow. This story is told by Eric Kuhn and John Fleck in Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River.
I suspect that the Colorado River basin wasn’t the only place where such a story played out.
But today, even good data from almost a century ago would be greatly challenged by the impacts of climate change—searing heat and record-long drought.
As a result, places that humans inundated—presumably for their own long-term benefit—are desiccating. Some of those places were once living communities relocated in a sacrifice for “the greater good.” Others were much older places of human living and activities. And many were places of spectacular beauty.
The great drying-up has consequences, and some of these have been urgently documented in new articles about places and things emerging from parched rivers and reservoirs.
An article in the Grand Canyon Trust’s Fall issue of the Advocate features the writing and photos of environmental photographer Dawn Kish.
And an article by Derrick Bryson Taylor in the New York Times features numerous places throughout Europe.
Words and photos do a compelling job of juxtaposing past and present decisions and lifeways, and they highlight the focused attention we must give to current decisions—decisions about culture, values, economics, and much more. Climate change is visible wherever we look, whether locally or globally.
Protecting our public lands is one small way we can help offset climate impacts and diminish future threats. Our lead articles today highlight some of the complexities and challenges that face the protection of our cherished public lands.
Until next week,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
The Politics of Public Lands
In a letter to Biden ahead of Public Lands Day, 100 environmental organizations urged the president to designate a 450,000-acre monument at Avi Kwa Ame. Interior Department spokesperson Tyler Cherry declined to comment on whether new monument designations are imminent but said the agency knows that “nature offers some of the most cost-effective ways to address the climate crisis.” … Dan Hartinger, director of government relations at The Wilderness Society, one of the groups that signed the letter, told HuffPost it is a “momentous” time for public lands conservation. “There’s a growing push from the public and from broad stakeholder organizations recognizing that in the face of the climate crisis and extinction crisis and social inequities, public lands can and should be managed more in line with addressing those crises,” he said. But there continues to be a concerted effort to take the U.S. backward on conservation and turn federal lands over to private industry, he said. Chris D’Angelo in Huffpost | Read More >>
So far, President Joe Biden has restored the three national monuments Trump reduced but has yet to establish any new monuments using the presidential powers in the 1906 Antiquities Act. That law is currently being challenged by the state of Utah, which filed suit in August against the Biden administration’s move to restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. While the suit focuses on those two national monuments, its larger target is the act as a whole, despite years of legal precedent affirming a president’s executive ability to designate monuments. Meanwhile, communities, organizations and tribal nations across the West have proposed three entirely new national monuments and one extension through legislation that is currently pending in Congress, though Biden could act sooner by using the Antiquities Act. Anna V. Smith in High Country News | Read More >>
Commentary: Competing Priorities
It can be startling to discover the artifacts of industrial activity in an otherwise tranquil natural scene. Miles inside a national park, a designated wilderness or some other conservation area, the remnants of mining claims are everywhere. With resource development on public lands once again a matter of national debate, it has become increasingly important to ask: How did protected places and mining become so entangled? Adam M. Sowards in the Los Angeles Times | Read More >>
Opposition to New Mining Claim near Mogollon
The Chiricahua Apache tribe is one of 18 Indigenous nations with ties to the Mogollon Rim. For the Chiricahua Apache, the site holds lessons about morality. … Since 1783, when the Spanish brought mining to the area, [tribal vice chief and attorney general William Tooahyaysay] Bradford said “we’ve been excluded from our ancestral lands by mining.” Bradford said the Chiricahua Apache have met with Summa Silver and tried to convince them not to mine the area. “We have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, is this something that we can overlook and still be who we are? No, we can’t,” he said. Hannah Grover in the New Mexico Political Report (reprinted in Silver City Sun News) | Read More >>
Indigenous Perspectives on the Gila River
This past Thursday through Sunday, Silver City hosted the 18th annual Gila River Festival, an event put on by the Gila Conservation Coalition that brings together presentations, demonstrations, panels, workshops and field trips—all exploring and celebrating the Gila River. … About 1,000 people attended this year’s festival. Its theme was “One Water, Many Currents,” and it focused on gathering voices from across cultures, geographies and disciplines to discuss the river. “It is the common thread that connects ecological and human communities,” [festival organizer Allyson] Siwik said during her introduction to Friday evening’s panel discussion. That discussion featured prominent Native voices who call the Gila corridor their homeland, and opened with a land acknowledgment: “We are gathering here tonight on the occupied homelands of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache. We pay our respects to Apache people, and all Native elders past and present.” Nickolas Seibel in the Silver City Daily Press | Read More >>
Black Heritage Resources Task Force Releases Report and Recommendations
The Black Heritage Resources Task Force believes that State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) can play an integral role in the preservation of African-American archaeology by providing guidance for the documentation of Black historic sites and consulting with Black stakeholders. This report provides reviews SHPO office planning documents and National Register for Historic Places nominations to understand the current practices regarding Black heritage resources. Black Heritage Resources Task Force at tDAR | Learn More >>
Documenting U.S. State and Territorial Approaches to Black Heritage, Diversity, and Inclusion in Preservation Practices 2022. Maria Franklin, Anna Agbe-Davies, Kimball Banks, Jodi A. Barnes, Thomas Cuthbertson, Sarah Herr, J.W. Joseph, Edward Morin, Burr Neely, Holly Norton, Tsim Schneider, William White. 2022 (tDAR id: 470407); doi:10.48512/XCV8470407 | Read Now >>
Recommendations for Raising the Visibility of Black Heritage Resources and Engaging with Black Stakeholders: Results from a Survey of State and Territorial Historic Preservation Offices and State Archaeologists. Maria Franklin, Anna Agbe-Davies, Kimball Banks, Jodi A. Barnes, Thomas Cuthbertson, Sarah Herr, J.W. Joseph, Edward Morin, Burr Neely, Holly Norton, Tsim Schneider, William White. 2022 (tDAR id: 470405); doi:10.48512/XCV8470405 | Read Now >>
Story Map: Explore the Caja del Rio (New Mexico)
Podcast: Geography of the Bears Ears
Consider making a map of land use issues across the Bears Ears National Monument. This is what Gustavo Ovando-Montejo, Assistant Professor at USU Blanding, is working on. Gustavo uses geography and social science to understand landscapes and how people interact with them. Science Moab | Listen Now >>
Publication Announcement: Repatriation, Reclamation, Reckoning
Montgomery, Lindsay M., and Supernant, Kisha. 2022. “Archaeology in 2021: Repatriation, reclamation, and reckoning with historical trauma.” American Anthropologist 00: 1–13. Read Now >>
Save the Date: NMAC Fall Conference November 12, 2022
The NMAC Fall Conference, “Underrepresented Groups in New Mexico History,” will be held this year on Saturday, November 12, 2022 at the Hibben Center on the UNM Campus. The Keynote Presentation by Dr. Timothy E. Nelson, “The Significance of Blackdom in New Mexico’s History,” will be Friday night, November 11, in the Anthropology Building. New Mexico Archeological Council | Learn More >>
Save the Date: 18th Biennial Southwest Symposium January 5–7, 2023
The 18th Biennial SWS meeting will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from January 5-7, 2023, and the hosts will be Maxine McBrinn and Judith Habicht-Mauche. Conference Theme: Attributes to Networks: Multi-scalar Perspectives on Understanding the Past in the Southwest US and Northwest Mexico. The 2023 symposium will highlight alternate approaches to interpreting the archaeological record of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico at multiple scales. Potential session themes could include such topics as material analyses of technology and production; the materiality of belief; households and communities; place, space, and landscapes; trade and exchange; inter-regional social networks; or interpretations of big data. We strongly encourage session proposals that include presentations that engage descendant community consultation and collaboration. Southwest Symposium | Learn More >>
REMINDER: Sept. 29 Webinar: Updates from the Mesa: The Far View Archaeological Project
With Donna Glowacki. How was the Far View community organized? How did it start and change over time? What was farming like and where was it done? Was one reservoir enough? How did community members relate to the other large communities and smaller settlements on the Mesa Verde Cuesta? How was the Far View community connected to Chaco? And, why and when did people move away? The Far View Archaeological Project seeks to better understand these community dynamics at Far View and how the Pueblo people, who called it home, lived in relationship with place, environment, and society. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Four Corners Lecture Series, and Mesa Verde National Park | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
REMINDER: 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 >>
REMINDER: 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. 6 Webinar: Native American Fire Management at an Ancient Wildland-Urban Interface in the Southwest US
With Christopher Roos. As residential development continues into flammable landscapes, wildfires increasingly threaten homes, lives, and livelihoods in the so-called ‘wildland-urban interface’ or WUI. Although this problem seems distinctly modern, Native American communities have lived in WUI contexts for centuries. When carefully considered, the past offers valuable lessons for coexisting with wildfire, climate change, and related challenges. Here, Dr. Roos combines archaeology, ethnography, dendrochronology, geoarchaeology, and ecological modeling to show that ancestors of Native Americans from Jemez Pueblo used ecologically savvy intensive burning and wood collection to make their ancient WUI resistant to climate variability and extreme fire behavior. Learning from the past offers modern WUI communities more options for addressing contemporary fire challenges. Public-private-tribal partnerships for wood and fire management can offer paths forward to restore fire-resilient WUI communities. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Position Announcement: Assistant Curator, Arizona State Museum (Tucson AZ)
The Assistant Curator of Archaeology is a continuing-eligible Academic Professional faculty position functioning in the Collections Division of the Arizona State Museum (ASM) at the University of Arizona (UA). The incumbent provides curatorial oversight for the cataloged archaeological collections housed at the Arizona State Museum and serves as a liaison with other museums, universities, public agencies, and private institutions regarding these collections. The incumbent also consults with others in the Collections Division and members of other ASM divisions regarding the display and interpretation of archaeological objects. In addition, the incumbent coordinates and oversees the location, identification, and documentation of funerary objects for the purpose of repatriation, pursuant to NAGPRA (the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act), in cooperation with the Repatriation Coordinator. The incumbent maintains a research program and prepares publications (and may prepare or contribute to exhibits) focused, at least in part, on ASM’s collections. Other duties include service on ASM and UA committees, participation in professional museum and archaeological organizations, pursuing grants and other forms of external funding to support research and collections management, and may include supervision of staff, students, and/or volunteers. The University of Arizona | Learn More >>
Job Opportunities: Santa Fe National Forest
The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is hiring temporary positions in recreation for the 2023 season for both developed recreation and wilderness and trails. The SFNF heritage program also is hiring archaeology technicians for the 2023 field season. Archaeology Technician—SFNF duty stations: Española, Jemez Springs, Pecos, Santa Fe. Positions are available at each duty station at all grade levels GS 5, 6 or 7. Government housing may be available. Archaeology technicians assist the Heritage Program in survey, site recording, and documentation across the forest for a variety of projects. Santa Fe National Forest in the Los Alamos Daily Post | Learn More >>
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