The energy transition is going to have a major effect on elements of our everyday material culture. Trying to get rid of the gas meter in front of my house has brought this home to me.
I haven’t been connected to the gas pipe that’s buried under my street for three full years.
In December 2019, our home solar system had just been installed. Right before my wife and I were heading to Philadelphia for the holidays, the gas company found an outdoor gas leak. They immediately shut down our gas meter. No heat or hot water for us!
An unwelcome crisis, but we responded quickly—Let’s get rid of gas altogether! By changing out our gas water heater for an electric one and installing a heat pump to address both heating and cooling, we greatly reduced our fossil fuel dependency. We’re fortunate we had the resources to do that.
It all worked out well. And it has put us several years ahead as the push to “electrify everything” gains momentum.
But we’ve been looking out our kitchen window at a useless gas meter for three years. When I called yesterday, the person at the gas company knew how to place an order to “move” a gas meter, but she was stumped by the request to “remove” one.
Eventually, they figured it out, and I’m now in a 5–10 day waiting period.
My hope is that this big hunk of metal can be recycled. Here’s a cool (and for me quite satisfying) YouTube video that shows a machine eating about 50 such items, turning them into scrap metal.
What changes are you thinking about making?
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. My co-editor Kate says she loves cooking with gas and/but grumpily admits she’ll switch over when it’s time to retire her current stove.
Banner image: Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park. Courtesy of NPS/Brad Sutton
Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians to Co-Steward Joshua Tree National Park
The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians reservation is located adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, and the park headquarters is located less than a mile from the tribe’s original reservation at Oasis of Mara in Twentynine Palms. But no trail currently exists connecting the reservation to the national park. And in the near-century since the park’s original founding as a national monument in 1936, there’s never been a formal agreement between the tribe and the National Park Service regarding the park’s approximately 800,000 acres that include the traditional homelands and cultural sites of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians and other area tribes. That changed this week, as Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Darrell Mike and Joshua Tree National Park Superintendent David A. Smith held a signing ceremony marking the new co-stewardship agreement on Tuesday. Erin Rode in the Palm Springs Desert Sun | Read more »
Continuing Coverage: Honoring Avi Kwa Ame
Johnny Ray Hemmers, a [Fort Mojave] tribal council member, met me in the center’s cultural classroom, where local youths learn traditional activities like painting, beading and dancing. Mr. Hemmers, 38, is a warm, quick-talking man with twinkling eyes. He spoke openly about his tribe’s long history in the desert and of the significance of Avi Kwa Ame. “As a child, seeing the mountain meant a lot to me,” he said. “When I looked at it, I knew who I was and where I came from.” Alex Schechter in the New York Times | Read more »
Interview: Healing Journeys: Dr. Doreen Bird on Reconnecting to Ancestral Places
“It is all sacred to us, all the land, and the dirt. It’s a different kind of framing of what people might think of—how to interact with ancestral places—because it’s all ancestral to us. It’s a way of conducting yourself to be spiritually connected. Everything has a soul, has a life, so we are taught to be very respectful and to tread lightly. We’re also taught not to pick up things or bother things that were left by our ancestors. That applies to Chaco Canyon or Bears Ears or Mesa Verde. We see things, even in our backyards, pottery sherds, things like that that we just know to leave alone. We don’t pick them up and take them home. It has a lot to do with respect.” Doreen Bird interviewed by Ashleigh Thomas for SaveHistory.org | Read more »
Save Your Chance for a Connection at Bears Ears | Carleton Bowekaty in the Salt Lake Tribune »
Commentary: Protect Greater Chaco Once and for All
In late 2021, the Biden administration proposed a 20-year ban on new oil and gas drilling on federal lands in the area to protect its cultural resources and unique history for future generations. Pueblos and tribes, our members, government officials and the general public—in New Mexico and beyond—have shown overwhelming support for these protections. Additionally, a new bill was introduced into Congress last November (which we expect to be reintroduced early in the new Congress) that will permanently protect this special, sacred landscape. The proposed safeguards are a thoughtful approach to a sensitive issue. Recognizing that there are tribal lands within the proposed 10-mile protected zone, both the administrative moratorium and the legislation are clear that these lands would be exempted from the ban and tribal communities will be able to continue to develop or not develop their land as they wish. Kurt Riley, Jerry Rogers, Doug Sporn, and Dave Simon in the Albuquerque Journal | Read more »
Commentary: When It Comes to Public Lands, Citizens Have a Responsibility
The vast public lands in the western United States belong to all U.S. citizens and we have a say in what happens to them. We have a responsibility to support Indigenous peoples in their quest to preserve their sacred areas, with ancient, awe-inspiring architecture and petroglyphs, and beautiful mountainous landscapes. In addition, we need to remember that sacred lands include scrubby desert areas that may seem better fit for an oil rig, but hold thousands of years of ancestry and culture to a Native American. These public lands can also host hikers, campers and archaeology enthusiasts who value the land and its traditions by visiting with respect and reverence and leaving the area as they found it. Public lands in this country belong to us all, and it’s our responsibility to take a part in how they are managed. Susan Nevins in the Barre Montpelier Times Argus | Read more »
BLM Needs Direction, Bold Action on Conservation | The Journal »
Commentary: Site of 1908 Race Riots Should Be a National Monument
Springfield, Illinois, is steeped in American history. Some of its lore is well-known: It was the home of our 16th President and to this day embodies the heart of the “Land of Lincoln.” It is the ancestral land of the Kickapoo Tribe and, of course, serves as the state capital of Illinois. But it also served as the backdrop of some of our nation’s lowest moments — nightmarish days that are as painful as they are essential to remember and reflect upon: including the 1908 Race Riots. In August 1908, a mob of white Americans and European immigrants murdered at least six Black residents then burned and looted Black businesses and communities in an effort to spread terror throughout the city and show that while Springfield was the home of the Great Emancipator, it was not immune to the racial violence that, tragically, is deeply woven into the fabric of this nation’s history. Senator Tammy Duckworth in the State Journal-Register | Read more »
Editors’ note: A short video on the archaeology of the riot accompanies Sen. Duckworth’s op-ed.
Commentary: Centering Black Lives in the Study of Human Remains
As a Black woman and biological anthropologist, I’m positioned as an “outsider within” the academic field of anthropology. This position compels me to think seriously about how anthropologists might decolonize our field and contend with its difficult past. … My dissertation project focused on the lives and deaths of some 79 Black women who died in Progressive Era New York City and whose skeletal remains are currently housed by the Smithsonian. But I have come to question whether my research continues to inflict violence upon the very people I hope to liberate. While skeletal remains can be used to illuminate the Black past in unique ways, does my work reinforce the notion that our bodies are objects suitable for study and normalize Black death? Aja Lans in SAPIENS | Read more »
Editors’ note: This essay is one in a series on Decolonizing Anthropology at SAPIENS. »
NY Governor Vetoes Burial Protection Act
At its first official meeting of 2023, the Seneca Nation Council unanimously approved a resolution condemning New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s veto of a bill that would have protected unmarked burials of Native American ancestors from unintentional excavation. … “The importance of the Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act to Native people cannot be overstated, and its rejection by the Governor was an affront to Native Nations, our people and our ancestors,” Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. said in a statement. The legislation would have required the “cessation of all ground-disturbing activities upon the discovery of a burial ground, human remains or funerary objects” and would have further required a determination of whether the remains were of Native American origin and, if so, the remains would have been returned to the Native Nation from which they likely originated. Native News Online | Read more »
Podcast: Black Cemeteries
In this episode, Jessica Yaquinto hosts a conversation with Dr. Antoinette Jackson and Delande Justinavil about Black cemeteries. We talk about their work and how their efforts fit into larger efforts to learn more about and protect Black cemeteries. We talk about the importance of using a variety of methods and disciplines to understand this important topic, as well as the necessity of including living people and art to inform this work and speak to the general public. The discussion includes the importance of reframing away from the idea of Black cemeteries as “abandoned” and the many-layered efforts necessary to protect Black cemeteries holistically. Heritage Voices | Listen now »
Survey for Archaeological Repositories about Digital Associated Records and Data
The Archaeological Collections Consortium (ACC) is an organization of collections committee representatives from SHA, SAA, ACRA, and Federal agencies. The ACC is concerned with the “big picture” state of archaeological collections in the US. The purpose of this survey is to collect information from repositories that hold archaeological collections about how digital data is being preserved, managed, and accessed as part of the associated documentation of archaeological projects. The survey results will be used to inform an article comparing the ideal vs. the reality of digital data management in the discipline. The ACC will develop a targeted “how-to” section of the article aimed at challenges that may be revealed by this survey. Archaeological Collections Consortium | Take the survey »
Publication Announcement: Pushing Boundaries in Southwestern Archaeology
Pushing Boundaries in Southwestern Archaeology: Chronometry, Collections, and Contexts, edited by Stephen E. Nash and Erin Baxter. University Press of Colorado, 2023. Learn more »
Publication Announcement: The Pierpoint Site: A Thirteenth-Century Elevated Site Near Gila Bend, Arizona
The Arizona Archaeological Society has announced the publication of volume 44 of The Arizona Archaeologist. “The Pierpoint Site: A Thirteenth Century Elevated Site Near Gila Bend, Arizona,” is the report resulting from the exploration of a large late-prehistoric site (ca 1200–1400 CE) located in southwestern Arizona, 15 km north (upriver) from the Town of Gila Bend. Members of the Arizona Archaeological Society are eligible to receive a copy of this report as a member benefit. Others can purchase copies from Amazon. Arizona Archaeological Society | Learn more »
REMINDER: Jan. 28 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Native Nations Demonstrations & Craft Market
Celebrate the culture and history of local Tucson Native Americans. Bead work, pottery, shell jewelry, and flintknapping demonstrations will take place, with crafts available for purchase. Miss Tohono O’odham Nation and the Amphi Native American Education Association will be storytelling. The Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture will have a display of Sonoran Desert crops. The Grand Opening of the Presidio’s new Early People’s Park with a re-created pit house and a native garden will take place. Lastly, fry bread and popovers will be available. Tickets available at the door. Presidio San Agustín del Tucson | Learn more »
Jan. 30 In-Person (UNLV) and Online Event: It Takes Teamwork: The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Investigation from 2020 to 2023
With Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield. In 2018, the City of Tulsa organized a team of experts, from scientists to community members, to identify gravesites associated with the hidden descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. While the City developed three committees pursuing historical, anthropological, and community aspects of the recovery, the Physical Investigation Committee (PIC) has embodied all three aspects in its recovery process since groundbreaking began in 2020. This presentation describes the progress of the investigation through 2023, in terms of the teamwork demonstrated by the PIC, and demonstrates the analytical and professional impacts of the group approach. UNLV Department of Anthropology | Learn more »
Jan. 31 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Where Was the American Southwest? And Why Isn’t It There Anymore?
With Douglas Bamforth. We often divide native North America into well-defined “culture areas” that correspond roughly to environmental/physiographic areas (the Northwest Coast, the Great Plains, etc.). The Southwest, extending from Durango (Colorado) to Durango (Mexico) and from Las Vegas (Nevada) to Las Vegas (New Mexico) is one of these. The earliest Europeans who described the region saw a vivid natural and cultural boundary that echoes down to the present in archaeology and the popular imagination, from Plains grasslands to Southwestern mountains, from bison hunters to maize farmers. The archaeology of the Colonial era shows us this boundary just as Europeans like Coronado saw it, with distinctive material culture in the Plains and Southwest and highly structured economic interaction between them. The archaeology of more ancient times, though looks very different from this: distinctively Southwestern architecture and material culture extended far out onto the grasslands, often with no evidence of interaction with Plains people. From the 13th through the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th centuries, economic and social relations between the Plains and the Southwest varied from trade to warfare, culminating in the disappearance of Southwestern people from the Southern Plains a generation or so before Europeans arrived. Archaeological Institute of America (Tucson Chapter) | Learn more »
Feb. 2 Webinar: Indian 101 Transformational Learning Experience
With Laura Harris. Going beyond traditional cultural competency training, Americans for Indian Opportunity’s (AIO) Indian 101 is a transformational learning experience lauded for its non-victim and no-blame approach to Native American history and culture, analysis of federal/tribal governmental relations and Indian policy, and background on contemporary Native peoples. AIO developed this unique training to address a widespread lack of knowledge. Because the U.S. educational system does not accurately or adequately include the history of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, policymakers and most Americans do not understand that Indian tribes are governments. AIO finds it necessary to educate the general public and inform politicians in order to create systemic change and galvanize alliances. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
Feb. 4 Exhibit Opening (Tucson AZ): Ancient–Modern: Continuity and Innovation in Southwest Native Jewelry
Nothing better captures the spirit of the American Southwest than jewelry of shell, silver, and turquoise crafted by the region’s Indigenous artisans. The story of this cultural art form is one of continuity and innovation. Over seventy outstanding examples from ASM’s collections of ancient, historic, and contemporary jewelry will be on display. They tell of efforts by the region’s Indigenous peoples over the millennia to adorn themselves and their loved ones, engage in trade, and express their identities, cultural beliefs and values. The exhibit’s story is enlivened by comments from contemporary makers whose works are included. Arizona State Museum | Learn more »
Feb. 7 In-Person Event (Cortez CO): Crow Canyon’s 2022 Survey at Hawkins Preserve
With Kellam Throgmorton. Kellam will provide a summary of prior investigations and the results from last summer’s work, showing a surprising range of site types reflecting the use of the locale by Pueblo, Ute, Navajo, and Euro-American peoples. 7:00 PM at the Methodist Church, 515 Park Street, Cortez. Contact Mary Gallagher at (202) 445-5755 with questions. Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society | Visit the Chapter’s website »
Feb. 9 Webinar: The Pueblo of Acoma’s Cultural Inheritance & Archaeological Partnership in the “Lands Between” of Southeastern Utah
With Sam Duwe, Kenny Wintch, and Kurt Riley. Amidst the pandemic we (a small group of individuals from the Pueblo of Acoma, academics, and a non-profit) planned and gathered in southeastern Utah to begin a project to explore and strengthen Acoma’s deep and inalienable connections to the north. We soon found that the process of building meaningful and long-lasting partnerships was as important, if not more so, than the work itself. This talk details our next steps in a community-based partnership: that of facilitating Acoma’s pilgrimage to their ancestral homes and to work with archaeologists and land managers to ensure continued access and protection of Acoma’s cultural inheritance. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
BONUS: T-Rex Brain Capacities Comparable to Apes… and Macaws!
For decades we’ve thought of the Tyrannosaurus Rex as enormous and terrifying, though not particularly intelligent. But according to a growing body of research, including a new study from the Journal of Comparative Neurology, “Jurassic Park” and all of us have had it wrong. The dinosaur of our nightmares might have been a lot smarter than we thought. Scott Tong with Suzana Herculano-Houzel on Here & Now (NPR) | Listen now »
PAT subscriber Marilyn Guida wanted to make sure to share that story with our macaw-loving Friends! 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.