Weekend celebrations are always especially enjoyable, and last weekend I got to participate in two!
On Saturday, Allen Denoyer and I spent the afternoon demonstrating ancient technologies and meeting new friends at Tubac Presidio State Park, where the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance celebrated the completion and approval of the Management Plan for the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area. Allen and I highlighted the 4,100 years of agricultural history of the Santa Cruz Valley. We also offered free copies of a 2004 issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine (free PDF download for you at that link) that was one of the first formal statements advocating for the establishment of a new heritage area (NHA).
The original concept for that NHA began to take shape in 2003, so it’s been 20 years from conception to full implementation. Saturday’s celebration was a joyous culmination for the many folks who carried the idea forward for two decades.
I hope you’ll take some time to check out the new management plan. It shares an exciting vision for experiencing and protecting the rich, and deep, cultural and natural heritage of the Santa Cruz Valley.
And then came Sunday. Many local donors to Archaeology Southwest’s “Protect the Past—Invest in the Future” campaign gathered in the courtyard of our headquarters in downtown Tucson. We celebrated the addition of $5 million to Archaeology Southwest’s endowment.
I am immensely grateful to the Archaeology Southwest Board and staff who are committed to advancing our Preservation Archaeology mission. I am immensely grateful to our Tribal and other community partners who work in collaboration with us. It is the coming together of these groups in cooperation and community that gives our donors the confidence to invest in the future of Preservation Archaeology—a holistic and conservation-based approach to exploring and protecting heritage places while honoring their diverse values.
I hope you all had your own special weekends, wherever Spring is springing and even where it isn’t just yet (I did grow up in the Midwest, after all—I feel your pain, some of you). It is such a beautiful (and brief) season in the southern Southwest. Here in the Sonoran Desert, we celebrate it, and wherever you are, I hope the jubilation of birdsong and blooms and good dirt smells are yours soon.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. The loss of Jim Skibo is deeply and personally felt. I am sad to share the news of his passing.
Thanks to Jaye Smith for her blog post, linked below, celebrating volunteers who play invaluable roles in advancing archaeological research and protecting heritage places.
Banner image: Henry D. Wallace
Breaking: City of Tucson to Begin Process of Returning Ancestral Lands to Tohono O’odham Nation
Led by Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and Ward 1 Council Member, Lane Santa Cruz, the Tucson City Council voted unanimously to begin the process that will return 10.6 acres of ancestral lands back to the Tohono O’odham Nation. This area is currently located in Ward 1. The base of Sentinel Peak is considered the birthplace of Tucson, and has been continuously inhabited by the ancestors of the Tohono O’odham, the Hohokam people for more than 4500 years. It is also Tucson’s namesake. The Tohono O’odham name for Tucson was S-cuk Son referring to the 17th-century O’odham village at the base of “Black Hill or Mountain.” The Spanish name “Tucson” comes from S-cuk Son. “This is an historic day. The Hohokam and Tohono O’odham have been here since time immemorial. This is their land,” said Mayor Regina Romero. “It is essential to recognize and correct the historical harm that has been inflicted upon Indigenous peoples, including the Tohono O’odham People. As responsible stewards of this land we are working towards a more equitable future and just society for all.” Lane Santa Cruz, City Council Member, Ward 1, press release via email
Stay tuned next week for continuing coverage of this just and historic development.
April 22 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Earth Day Activities at Mission Garden
For thousands of years, the Santa Cruz River fed a network of irrigation canals, the lifeblood of farming all along the valley. Mission Garden has created a water feature that flows directly above an ancient buried Hohokam-period canal. Come learn about the deep history, cultural traditions, and connections to water and agriculture at S-cuk shon, Tucson’s Birthplace, including hands-on science activities, freebies, and fun for youth and families. Hands-on science activities for youth and families will include “Creating a Cienega,” led by science educator Elena Martin and aquatic conservation UA student Mathew Mayer; “Seedball Make and Take” with Cooperative Extension Ecological Restoration; dip netting in the acequia for amazing aquatic insects; Nature’s Notebook Scavenger Hunt; free puppets and books from Xerces; “Become a Citizen Scientist” with iNaturalist; and “Critter Craft” with Pima County Natural Resources. In addition, there will be scheduled presentations by Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan, Jesús García, Michael Brescia, and Dennis Caldwell. Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace | Learn more »
In Memoriam: James M. Skibo
James Skibo was more than just an explorer of Wisconsin’s past. As the state’s archaeologist, he was an ambassador of antiquity, sharing history and artifacts with community groups and members of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Skibo, who took on the role in 2021 after a distinguished career with Illinois State University, also worked closely with other archaeologists and the state’s Indigenous communities, especially after the remarkable discovery of two ancient canoes in Lake Mendota in 2021 and 2022. Skibo’s work and passion were being fondly remembered after he died Friday after being found unresponsive in the lake just a few hundred yards east of where the canoes were found. Skibo, who was 63, was with two other divers, including marine archaeologist Tamara Thomsen, and was taking part in a preparation dive for the upcoming season, according to Christian Overland, director and CEO of the Historical Society. … “He brought people together,” Overland said. “He was a partner with many people, and people will miss that because Jim helped not just his team, but he helped out community members, too. He was the people’s archaeologist, and I would like him to remembered that way.” Barry Adams and Lucas Robinson in the Wisconsin State Journal | Learn more about Jim’s life and work »
In Memoriam: Eloise Richards Barter (1928–2023)
When Eloise Richards was in seventh grade, she knew she would be an Archeologist. … Eloise went on to graduate studies at the University of Arizona, including summer seasons at the Point of Pines student archaeology camp. In the summer of 1954, she joined the Field Museum Southwest Archaeology Expedition near Reserve, NM, under the leadership of Paul Martin. Her work there led to the research project that formed the basis for her Master’s thesis on Native American Pottery, a summary of which was published by the Chicago Field Museum. Obituary at Legacy dot com | Read more »
Hollowed to Hallowed Ground
Pecos National Historical Park announces the release of a three-part podcast about the events leading up to the 1999 Pecos Repatriation. Almost 2,000 ancestors and nearly 1,000 objects were repatriated to the Pueblo of Jemez, largely from northeastern museums, resulting in one of the largest repatriations to occur under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. When the Pueblo of Jemez reclaimed their ancestors and objects, they reburied them near their original resting in place what is now Pecos National Historical Park. This is the story of those ancestors’ journey. It is a story of loss, cooperation, and hope. Pecos National Historical Park | Listen now »
Honoring Sacred River Spaces
A proclamation from members of independent self-governing villages of Lower Moencopi, Upper Moencopi, Hotevilla, Bacavi, Oraivi, Kykotsmovi, Shungopavy, Shipaulovi, Mishongnovi, Walpi, Sichomovi, Tewa and Spider Mound called on the National Historic Landmark Program to officially designate Sípàapu as a Traditional Cultural Place. “Sípàapu, located at the bottom of Ongtupkya, is the place of emergence to what is now called the Colorado Plateau,” said Vernon Masayesva, chairman of Black Mesa Trust. “This was the place they were looking for to begin a new civilization. It is a sanctuary for mankind we call waaki.” Arlyssa D. Becenti for the Arizona Republic (azcentral) | Read more »
What to Know About Applying for the cyberSW Native American Fellowship
I’m here to tell you a bit more about the fellowship opportunity, and to encourage potential applicants to join me for a webinar on April 25. I’ll be joined by colleagues Ashleigh Thompson, Sarah Oas, and Jeff Clark, and we’ll share more about the broader cyberSW project and answer your questions (note that attendees’ names will be hidden from other attendees, so no worries there). Today I’d like to explain some of our thinking about this job, introduce some very rough ideas about the kinds of projects the Fellow might work on, and provide a peek behind the curtain as to what working with us might actually be like. Joshua Watts, cyberSW Manager, at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read more »
Cosmic Rays and Tree Rings
The timing of the Viking foothold at L’Anse aux Meadows heralds a revolution in archaeology: a newfound ability to whittle the age of wooden artifacts from decades down to single years. The breakthrough paving the way for such precision came in 2012, when Japanese physicist Fusa Miyake revealed that a massive influx of cosmic rays caused a big uptick in 14C in a tree ring dated to 774–75 C.E. Since then, at least seven more confirmed spikes, known as Miyake events, have been found so far. The earliest well-supported spike dates to 7176 B.C.E. These chronological lighthouses are now guiding a growing cadre of scientists as they work to date ancient ruins, natural disasters, and other historic turning points. “If we’re able to start pinning things down to the year,” [Michael] Dee says, “we can start analyzing early history, perhaps even prehistory, with the sort of rigor that previously we could only apply to modern history.” Michael Price in Science | Read more »
I believe all volunteers/avocationals within the science, and especially those who assist experienced archaeologists with their research endeavors, “make the world go ‘round.” Without the dedicated volunteers who assist with site monitoring and protection, and those who work tirelessly contributing to the activities necessary for operating successful non-profit state archaeological societies, the academy’s efforts to preserve, protect, and engage would be greatly limited. Jaye Smith for the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read more »
With gratitude to all who serve!
All Aboard! Trails & Rails
Enjoy your time traveling across the country with National Park Service volunteer guides and their traveling show-and-tell programs as they explain regional historic and natural resources related to your journey. Whether visiting iconic natural treasures like the mighty Mississippi River valley, historic landmarks like the Roosevelt mansion in Hyde Park or cultural attractions like New Orleans Jazz National Park, you can connect to public lands and engage in a better understanding of the need to preserve and protect these special natural and cultural resources. Since the beginning of the 20th century, railroads have played an active role in developing America’s national parks and we are proud to be a part of this partnership that provides a fuel efficient and environmentally friendly way to visit public lands. Amtrak and the National Park Service | Learn more »
Publication Announcement: Vapaki
Vapaki: Ancestral O’Odham Platform Mounds of the Sonoran Desert, edited by Glen E. Rice, Arleyn W. Simon, and Chris Loendorf. University of Utah Press 2023. Learn more »
April Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
4/24, Ashley Lemke, Archaeology’s Research Frontier: Submerged Sites in North American Great Lakes. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
REMINDER: April 20 Online Event: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Southern Arizona and the Creation of a Transformed Landscape
With Bill Gillespie. Gillespie will illustrate how men in nearly 40 CCC camps built roads, recreational infrastructure, and extensive erosion-control, fire prevention, and livestock watering features in southeastern Arizona between 1933 and 1942. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | Learn more and register now (free) »
REMINDER: April 20 Online Event: Exploring Fremont Territoriality and Resource Defense in Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
With Dr. Weston McCool. In this presentation, Dr. McCool investigates the link between archaeological data and territoriality using Fremont sites from Nine Mile Canyon (NMC), Utah, and geospatial statistical tests. For over a century, researchers have suggested the presence of NMC archaeological sites with explicit defensive functions. The existence of large tower structures and remote storage units have led many to hypothesize that these features were part of a Fremont strategy to maintain territorial boundaries and defend resources from theft or raids. Here, the presenter focuses on the tower sites and their relationship to Fremont territoriality. His results support the hypothesis that the tower sites of NMC functioned as defensive refuges. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and Four Corners Lecture Series | Learn more and register (free) »
April 27 Online Event: More than Warp and Weft
With Venancio Aragon. Through many centuries, the Diné textile traditions have endured, and are a quintessential element, of Venancio’s and his people’s cultural identity and history. Diné weavings fulfilled various needs in different times. Change and adaptation have long been a trait of the Diné as is reflected in their textiles. Many Diné weavers today are concerned with the survival of their ancient cultural arts and are creating innovative strategies for the perpetuation and continuation of their ancestor’s teachings in the global age. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
May 6 In-Person Event (Salt Lake City UT): Fort Douglas Walking Tour
With Chris Merritt. Join Chris (Utah State Historic Preservation Office) for a walking tour of the historic and archaeological legacy of Utah’s longest-serving military post. Learn about what archaeologists have discovered over the past thirty years of investigating the Fort, its architectural legacy, and how the post changed over time. Tour will include some large-format maps and hands-on artifact discussions, as well. Utah State Historic Preservation Office | Learn more and register (free) »
May 8 Online Event: Sandals and Sandal Symbolism in Greater Bears Ears and Beyond
With Benjamin A. Bellorado. Studies of dressing practices can tell us a lot about how ancient societies marked territories, signaled group affiliations, and reinforced social structures across long-lived social landscapes. Research into archaeological clothing is infrequent because perishable materials like clothing rarely survive the ravages of time, even in the arid southwest. However, of all the types of garments used by Ancestral Pueblo people, thousands of yucca sandals have preserved, were recovered by archaeologists, and are available for study. Colorado Rock Art Association | Learn more (Zoom link provided) »
May 10 Online Event: Vintage Signs of Utah
With Lisa-Michelle Church. Come with us on a road trip around Utah to see and learn about some amazing vintage signs that dot our landscape. The new book, “Vintage Signs of Utah,” is a beautifully photographed collection of vintage roadside signs around the state, including historic cafes, motels, theaters, and stores. Even a few ghost signs will appear! The glowing neon, the quirky names, and the unusual shapes are fascinating. Explore the history of Utah sign artists and sign makers. You will see some familiar signs, learn about this entertaining form of art and discover some fun aspects of Utah’s visual history. Utah State Historic Preservation Office | Learn more and register (free) »
Save the Date: Pecos Conference, Aug. 10–13, Flagstaff
See you under the tent! Watch this space »
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. Thanks!