Pursuing Preservation Archaeology often leads me to interesting new topics and places, such as regenerative agriculture.
That interest got a big boost over a month ago, courtesy of Dax Hansen, owner of Oatman Flats Ranch on the lower Gila River. He held a meeting in Phoenix to share the conservation plan for his organic, regenerative farming operation. It was a most interesting day.
Last week, Dax hosted 10 of us during our visit to the proposed Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area (NCA). Dax also invited Christine and Scott Heartquist of Heartquist Hollow Farms. Their entourage included three young burros and 23 yearling sheep.
Dax is in his third year of no-till cultivation of heritage wheat, and he is ready to integrate animals into his development of the soil. The Heartquist sheep guests had arrived a few days earlier. Their main job: Eat. And I can attest that they love their work.
Their second job is to serve as a data source. They choose which plants to eat first. And after those tasty items are gone, they choose second and third favorites. And all along they pee and poop and lightly score the ground surface with their hooves. The burros do these same things, but their main job is as guards. When a pair of dogs ran up to the fence around the field while we were watching, the burros ran to confront them. A coyote or mountain lion would get a similar greeting.
Data from these small fields will be used to scale up these animal efforts on the much bigger nearby fields.
The human history on and around Dax’s farm goes back at least several thousand years. It lies within the proposed Great Bend of the Gila NCA. It was exciting to see an appreciation of history and an incorporation of Indigenous knowledge and western science in ways that are already conserving water and producing healthy food.
As our gathered group observed sheep and burros, milled mesquite, exchanged knowledge, and shared barbecue and homemade salsas, I found the clear and communal commitment to the past, present, and future of the land truly inspiring. All are essential ingredients as we respond to climate change.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Banner image: Skylar Begay. I’ve gotten used to horses over my decades out West, so I was happy to give skritches to one of the Guard Burros.
Interior Proposes to Revamp NAGPRA
Today, the Federal Register published a proposed rule to rewrite the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in order to expedite and simplify the process for tribal nations seeking their relatives’ return. … Since 1995, museums have reported a collection of more than 208,000 human remains. But in the past 32 years, not even half have been returned. Today, institutions still hold roughly 108,000 human remains, according to the government’s database, in large part because of a loophole in the law. The majority of human remains in institutions today have been deemed “culturally unidentifiable” by the institutions that hold them. Jenna Kunze for Native News Online | Read More >>
The changes would streamline how institutions identify remains and funerary and cultural objects in their collections through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Officials say the proposal will increase tribal authority in how the items are returned and prevent further disturbance of objects found on tribal or federal lands. “Repatriation is a sacred responsibility for many Indigenous communities,” says National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “After consulting with Tribal Nations across the United States, the National Park Service welcomes additional input on improvements to the NAGPRA regulations. We hope these changes will make it easier for proper repatriation and reburial of Indigenous ancestors and cultural items.” Ryan Heinsius for KNAU (NPR) | Read More or Listen Now >>
New Mexico Land Commissioner Adopts Cultural Properties Protection Rule
Recognizing that New Mexico’s state trust land has been occupied by people for millennia, with much of it ancestral to Native Tribes and Nations, New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard today announced the first-ever rule of its kind designed to protect cultural resources on state trust lands has been formally published in the New Mexico Register, and will take effect on December 1, 2022. The rule requires lessees of state trust lands to conduct informational reviews and cultural resource surveys before engaging in new development on state trust land. New Mexico State Lands (press release) | Read More >>
Initial Phase of Management Planning for Bears Ears Ends
In the last of the public engagement sessions held in Albuquerque by federal agencies, members of the public shared comments Wednesday, while representatives offered maps and information about current land management on the monument. … Carleton Bowekaty is Zuni’s lieutenant governor and represents the tribe on the [Bears Ears] Inter-Tribal Coalition. He said federal agencies “often look at the land as an object,” while the coalition sees it as “a living entity that deserves respect.” He said they’re working to develop management that protects sacred sites, and while the five tribes have sometimes been at odds, in Bears Ears they “will work on this jointly together.” Sara Van Note for Source NM | Read More >>
Indigenous Co-Management in the News
Before the creation of national parks and monuments, designated wildlife refuges, and the United States government, the Indigenous peoples who lived on the land cared for it based on intimate knowledge of local ecosystems. A powerful push in the last couple decades by many of those original inhabitants reasserting their claim to those lands have led to more “co-management” structures, where official management procedures include soliciting tribal input. Returning stewardship of the land to tribes would mark a culturally significant change—their knowledge, retained through generations, would be invaluable in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis. Miyo McGinn in Popular Science | Read More >>
Relations between tribal nations and the federal government are on the brink of a new era. Americans are realizing tribal perspectives are crucial for a future that embraces climate resiliency and strengthened biodiversity. Upon entering office, President Biden recognized as much by instructing federal agencies to embrace traditional ecological knowledge. New federal guidance reflects a commitment to strengthening a nation-to-nation relationship built on respect and cooperation. Ruben Pacheco, Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, in the Albuquerque Journal | Read More >>
Continuing Coverage and Commentary: Changing Offensive Place Names
While the DOI’s recent order is important, I believe policymakers, voters, and anyone who wants to be an ally to Indigenous people must move beyond its mandate. The majority of the replacement names for the sites are not Indigenous names, and many still reflect their settler colonialist history—as do the names of countless places in the U.S. and around the world. I, among others, call for taking a deeper look at all colonial place names to uncover the truth under settler colonialism. … Together, these actions can help heal relationships between cultures and between people and the land—a change that is critical to land management and larger issues such as the climate crisis. Amanda Grace Santos in SAPIENS | Read More >>
Commentary: Conserving Cultural Heritage Is Vital for Climate Adaptation
Cultural heritage is strangely invisible in U.S. attention to climate change. I say strangely because every community holds history and heritage. Every community has ties to places and stories that shape our senses of who we are. Heritage is part of human behavior. It’s part of the social sciences that help us understand society and how we live in the world. Marcy Rockman in The Hill | Read More >>
MIAC Welcomes New Executive Director, Pollyanna Nordstrand
An expert in the field of Indigenous art has been named as the executive director of New Mexico’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. Pollyanna “Polly” Nordstrand, who is Hopi, will take on her new role next month. She will oversee a team of curators, anthropologists and archaeologists who are responsible for the preservation and interpretation of objects and works of art that represent Native people from the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. “It is an exciting time to step into this leadership position as MIAC envisions its place as a 21st-century museum with new exhibitions and expanded partnerships with tribal communities,” she said in a statement. Santa Fe New Mexican (Associated Press) | Read More >>
Conserving African American Cemeteries
African American cemeteries are of particular historic significance. In many cases, they serve as the most tangible remnant of once-thriving communities, holding the stories of the people who once lived in these landscapes. While associated houses, churches, and social halls may have been lost, the stones in the ground often remain as a marker. But are these sites appropriately valued? Walter Hood, in his introduction to the book Black Landscapes Matter (2020), posited that these landscapes tell the truth of the struggles and the victories of African Americans in North America and that the erasure of cemeteries is a way of forgetting a difficult past. Brenda Barrett in the Living Landscape Observer | Read More >>
Video: Diné Archaeology on Chacra Mesa
Davina Two Bears and Ruth Van Dyke 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) | Watch Now >>
Podcast: Season 5 of Mesa Verde Voices
Season 5’s theme is Dark Skies and Archaeoastronomy in the Mesa Verde World. Episodes include The 100th Dark Sky Park; Sun Watching; Moon Watching; Star Watching; and Storytelling. Mesa Verde Voices | Listen Now >>
Publication Announcement: In Search of the Sierra Madre Apaches
[Journal of the Southwest] Volume 64, number 2, a special issue called “In Search of the Sierra Madre Apaches,” is an important collection of oral histories recorded over many years by a dedicated group of professional and avocational scholars. Leading them was Neil Goodwin, son of the late anthropologist, Grenville Goodwin, whose influential book, The Social Organization of the Western Apache, was published posthumously in 1942 (Grenville died of a brain tumor in 1940, a few months after Neil was born). As Neil recounts in his introductory essay, his father traveled to Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental in 1930 and 1931 in search of a band of Apaches who were being pursued for a kidnapping and murder. Grenville kept a diary during those two trips, recording his conversations with locals as he asked about the Apaches, and exploring abandoned campsites. Neil writes in the journal that Grenville “was never able to return to Mexico, but the diary was a gift to me and has been a road map for much of what I have done since I first saw it at the age of 22—about his age when he wrote it. In 1976 I began to try to find out who these people were and what had become of them.” This special issue of JSW is the fruit of an incredible life-long inquiry. Director Jeff Bannister in University of Arizona Southwest Center Postcards (e-newsletter) | Learn More >>
Review the Table of Contents (opens as a PDF) >>
Publication Announcement: Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 1
The Handbook of North American Indians series—the most monumental summary of knowledge on indigenous peoples of the USA, Canada, and Northern Mexico—was designed by the staff of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Department of Anthropology in the 1960s and, in 2022, culminates with Volume 1, edited by Igor Krupnik. Involving more than 70 contributors from the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany, including indigenous contributors from across North America, the volume’s 35 chapters and more than 7,400 bibliography entries, Volume 1 presents new perspectives on the history of North America’s indigenous societies, issues facing North American indigenous communities in the 21st century, a thorough update of the studies of Native American indigenous peoples, and the first-ever history of the Handbook project. Volume 1 is an innovative collection of new contributions written in 2015–2017 and is organized in five sections that reflect the series’ three-pronged mission: to look forward, to update and assess developments in Native American research, and to account for the history of the Handbook initiative and its legacy. Smithsonian | Learn More and Download Now (open access) >>
October Subscription Lectures (In Person, Santa Fe)
Oct. 24, Nicolasa Chavez, Growing Up Coyota: Castas in New Mexico; Oct. 31, Rick Hendricks, Printer’s Ink & Bloodstains: A Murderous Newspaperman in 19th Century New Mexico. Southwest Seminars | Learn More >>
TODAY, Oct. 19 Webinar: The Archaeology of Alcohol in the Early Days of Saltair
With Tessie Burningham. In 1893, the Saltair resort was built on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), the question of whether alcohol should be served was a controversial subject for the owners and visitors alike. The Church wanted a wholesome resort where families could relax in peace away from alcoholic influences, yet were also concerned that banning alcohol would result in the loss of profits. Utah State Historic Preservation Office | More Information and Free Registration >>
REMINDER: Oct. 20 Webinar: A Conversation about Indigenous Archaeology
With Kerry F. Thompson. Stumbling on archaeology as a career at the age of 19, Dr. Kerry F. Thompson’s negotiation of her Diné identity with a career in archaeology has taken her from Archaeological Technician at the Navajo Nation to Department Chair at Northern Arizona University. Join her in this conversation from her home on the Navajo Nation in Leupp, Arizona. She invites your questions about archaeology, academia, Diné culture and identities, Indigenous archaeology, rez dogs, and any other related topic. We may not get all the answers we seek, but the conversation is bound to be interesting! Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Oct. 20 Webinar: Federal Indian Boarding Schools in Colorado
With Holly Norton and Garrett Briggs. The State of Colorado had two off-reservation boarding schools, the Teller Institute in Grand Junction, which operated from 1886–1911, and the Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School, which operated from 1891–1911. Both Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School and the Teller Institute were part of an Indian education experiment focused on the goal of assimilation and the systemic eradication of Native practices including traditional clothing, hairstyles, language, and traditional spiritual beliefs or religious systems. This educational approach to force Native American youth into mainstream society has come more sharply under investigation across the country in the last several years. Norton and Briggs will discuss the current efforts underway in Colorado for both Teller Institute and Fort Lewis. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
REMINDER: Oct. 21–22 In-Person Used Book Sale (Tucson AZ)
Our annual fall used book sale will be held in the lobby of the Arizona State Museum on Friday, October 21, from 10 to 4, and on Saturday, October 22, from 10 to 2. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to support the Arizona State Museum. All books are half-price on Saturday from 12 to 2. We have received a huge number of archaeology books from the estate of David Wilcox, so be sure to come browse and stock up. It is a great time to find “grey” literature not commonly available. We also have plenty of books in other genres, history, biography, Native American culture, Mexican and Mesoamerican anthropology and culture. Many books are priced at $2.00. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | Learn More >>
Oct. 22 In-Person Event (Dragoon AZ): Amerind Autumn Fest
The annual Amerind Autumn Fest celebrates the history, culture, and arts of the O’odham community with artists, public talks, and performers. This year, Autumn Fest will feature public talks about O’odham culture from scholars, and the event welcomes Native artists who will have their art works for sale. Also, the Southern Scratch waila band will play as part of the Angelo Joaquin Jr., Cultural Performance Series. $10 per vehicle entry fee. Amerind Foundation | Learn More and View Schedule >>
Oct. 22 Webinar: More Stories from the Pima County Coroner
With Homer Thiel. Coroners were tasked with investigating unusual deaths caused by accidents, murders, and suicides. During the Territorial Period in Pima County, over 800 Coroner’s Inquests were held. Presidio Museum Board Member and Archaeologist Homer Thiel presents some of the unusual stories told in the surviving records of these investigations. Attendees must pre-register to receive the Zoom link; fee applies. Salon & Saloon Lecture Series (Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum) | More Information and Registration >>
Oct. 23 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Paper Flower and Crown Making Workshop
Floral crowns have a long history in the Sonoran Desert. Archaeologists working at the Presidio and National Cemeteries discovered many children and young adults wearing them. Discover the history of the crowns and All Souls Ofrendas (altars). Learn how to make three styles of tissue paper flowers and fashion a floral crown to wear at the All Souls Procession. All materials provided. Event takes place at the Presidio Museum in our Territorial Patio. Pre-registration required; fee applies. Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum | Learn More >>
Oct. 26 Webinar: A Snapshot of Current Archeological Research at Glen Canyon
With Amy Schott. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has been home to various human groups for thousands of years, resulting in a complex and diverse archeological record. Park lead archeologist Amy Schott will discuss how she protects vast resources in the face of increasing visitation levels, changes to visitor demographics, climate change, lowering lake reservoir levels and geomorphic changes. Utah State Historic Preservation Office | More Information and Free Registration >>
Oct. 27 Webinar: Paint Technology in the Chaco World
With Kelsey Hanson. Paint is one of the oldest known human technologies, yet it remains underrepresented in archaeological discourse. Making paint requires intimate knowledge of geologic sources, processing requirements, and application techniques. In the contemporary Pueblo World, paint is an especially important element of performance regalia, communicating important knowledge, directional symbolism, and more. In this talk, Kelsey E. Hanson will contextualize paint as a technology and illustrate its significance in performances in the Chaco World of the northern U.S. Southwest. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Four Corners Lecture Series | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
Oct. 30 In-Person Tour (Tucson AZ): Tales of the Walking Dead
Archaeologist Homer Thiel leads this walk through the Court Street Cemetery, where about 8,000 people were buried between 1875 and 1909. When it was closed, about half were reinterred but the other half were left in place. The tour will lead you through the cemetery, show you where bodies have been found and reveal the history of this forgotten place. This tour meets at the southwest corner of Speedway and Stone, with one tour at 10:00 a.m. and one at 1:00 p.m. (tours last about 1 1/2 hours). Pre-registration is required; fee applies. Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum | Learn More >>
Nov. 1 Webinar: Revitalizing Cultural Lifestyle through Archeological Preservation
Kevin Cooeyate (ALCC Zuni) and James Othole (ALCC Zuni) will discuss “Revitalizing Cultural Lifestyle through Archeological Preservation.” Reconnecting indigenous young adults to ancestral lifeways through the service work of the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Program. Leading their Nations back to ecological and cultural well-being. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | More Information and Zoom Registration >>
In Memoriam: Genevieve Head
Choosing a career in archaeology, Gen earned a master’s degree from UCLA, followed by a move to Santa Fe in 1991 to accept a job with the National Park Service as a researcher and project director. In 2008, she joined the NM Department of Transportation’s Cultural Resources section, eventually becoming its Tribal Consultation specialist. In 2015, inspired by Sterling and Olivia, she became active with the Upstart Crows, a youth Shakespeare troupe in Santa Fe. Gen will be remembered for her warm smile, her kindness, and her sunny outlook on life. She loved her family, archaeology, New Mexico, and all things Shakespeare. Santa Fe New Mexican (Legacy dot com) | Learn More >>
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