Skylar Begay first worked for Archaeology Southwest in February 2019 as a field crew member on Aaron Wright’s Lower Gila Ethnographic and Archaeological Project (LGREAP). Although Skylar—who is Diné (Navajo), Mandan and Hidatsa—had worked on maintenance tasks at archaeological sites while employed by the Arizona Conservation Corps, his first actual archaeology project was with LGREAP in 2019. Skylar learned a great deal through his “very hands-on introduction.”
In October 2019, we interviewed Skylar for a two-year Wyss Fellow position at Archaeology Southwest. He was working for the Forest Service in Colorado, so he had to drive into town and park his pickup close enough to the public library to access the library’s WiFi. From behind the wheel of his truck, Sky participated in a Zoom interview on his phone. At one point, the network dropped his call. But soon enough, he was right back up on the Zoom page. I was deeply impressed by this young man’s composure, and he nailed the interview.
Sky joined us in Tucson in January 2020. As we discussed all the travel and Tribal outreach he would be undertaking to promote the Great Bend of the Gila National Conservation Area effort, COVID was lurking around the corner with its own plans to change the world.
We all adapted. Sky got to do a lot of online planning for the Respect Great Bend Campaign. He was so effective that he was named the Campaign Leader for our partnership with The Wilderness Society. Last December, Sky completed his Fellowship. The Campaign has expanded substantially. And, fortunately, Sky is still leading that Campaign, because he is now in a permanent position with Archaeology Southwest.
His new title is Director of Tribal Collaboration in Outreach & Advocacy. Skylar has a new blog post that I hope you will read. It introduces Archaeology Southwest’s new, formal Land Acknowledgment, which he developed in close collaboration with Ashleigh Thompson, Director of Tribal Collaboration in Research & Education.
The Archaeology Southwest Board and Staff tip our hats to Sky and Ashleigh, with sincerest thanks.
Until next week,
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Creating a Living Land Acknowledgment
The idea to create an expanded Land Acknowledgment came about shortly after the time Ashleigh and I started working on the Tribal Collaboration Model. It was not my intention at that time to be the one who would write the first draft of the Land Acknowledgment, but after suggesting it to the other Directors on staff, it fell to me to do so. At the moment I volunteered to take on the task, I thought to myself, “Well, this shouldn’t be too difficult.” After all, I am an Indigenous person, and have probably sat through hundreds of Land Acknowledgments over the years. It turns out it isn’t so easy. Skylar Begay at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read more »
Video: Cultivating Identity
“Cultivating Identity: How Heritage Foods Connect Past, Present & Future” explores the association between Indigenous food cultivation and cultural identity. Filmed in the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area of southern Arizona, this 3,300 square-mile region is one of America’s longest continually inhabited regions, with traces of human occupation extending back more than 12,000 years and evidence of continuous farming and settlement for more than 4,000 years. Ingenious methods of food sustenance and cultivation were developed to sustain the Tohono O’odham and their ancestors, and this short film reveals why it is critical to keep these practices and traditions alive. Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area | Watch now »
Video: Collaborating with Diné Communities
On Tuesday, May 2, Wade Campbell presented “Collaborating with Diné Communities” for the last presentation of the 2022–2023 Archaeology Café season. Dr. Campbell discussed “thinking outside the ‘pueblito’ box.” He asked, “What is a ‘pueblito’?” He also examined how that concept has been linked to Navajo Archaeology and a more extensive history of archaeological/anthropological thought. He challenges that thinking and argues for a recasting of ‘pueblitos.’ Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Watch now »
Podcast: What If It Was Meant to Stay in the Ground?
From your backyard to a hill by the ocean, you can come upon an archaeological find just about anywhere. But what happens when that object was a keepsake meant to stay in the ground? When archaeologists excavate, they have some idea of what they will find in the ground. But in 2016, a team of archaeologists from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, was genuinely surprised when they uncovered a Victorian-era cache. In the process, they forged an uncommonly deep connection with an individual from the past. Narrated by Anya Gruber, this story, “Finding Mrs. Jackson,” shows how archaeology can humanize the past and how loss can bring us closer. SAPIENS | Listen now »
Fellowship Opportunity: SAPIENS Public Scholars Training
With the support of a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the SAPIENS Public Scholars Training Fellowship program guides anthropologists on accessible writing and podcasting for broad nonacademic audiences. The purpose of this fellowship program is to provide in-depth training for anthropologists in the craft of science communication and public scholarship. This competitive fellowship program will be held each summer to select a yearly cohort of 10 fellows. Each year will present a particular theme, drawing primarily from the research areas around cultural evolution: the Wisdom of World Cultures (2022–2023); the Impacts of Technology (2023–2024); and Global Challenges, Cultural Opportunities (2024–2025). The application portal will open on May 15th and close on July 15, 2023. Join us for a webinar on May 30th at 11am EST to learn about the program and how to apply! SAPIENS | Register for the Q & A webinar (free) »
Continuing Coverage: Proposed BLM Rule and Conservation Leases
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is set to begin public hearings on a proposal to open federal lands leasing to conservationists with the first public presentation to take place Monday evening. The proposed rule, first announced at the end of March, would open the leasing process to those seeking to preserve public lands, along with the oil, mining and grazing interests to which they are traditionally leased. … Aaron Weiss, deputy director at the Center for Western Priorities, told The Hill the proposed rule, as well as the scheduled listening sessions, are a “big, important step” in bringing BLM back in alignment with statutory intent. Zack Budryk in The Hill | Read more »
Let’s Hear It for Site Stewards!
Dozens and dozens of trained volunteers across the state provide extra eyes on the ground for land management agencies that have limited personnel to cover large tracts of terrain like the 100,000-acre Caja del Rio. The site stewards regularly visit sites that have been identified as highly significant or vulnerable in order to check for disturbances and provide reports to agency archaeologists. In the process, the site stewards can gain a robust understanding of the cultural resources they devote their time to watching over. Matt Dahlseid in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read more »
Job Opportunity (Tucson AZ): Assistant Projects Manager
Desert Archaeology is seeking an experienced, motivated, solutions-oriented archaeologist/historian/projects manager to assist with the management of projects in our Tucson and Phoenix offices. The successful candidate will have experience in cultural resources management, have strong organizational skills, and enjoy collaborative work. In their Assistant Projects Manager role, they will help develop new work opportunities, be responsible for tracking projects, and represent company values to Desert Archaeology clients and the public. The Assistant Projects Manager is based in the Tucson office. This is a 30-40 hour per week, permanent position with full medical and PTO benefits. Desert Archaeology, Inc. | Learn more »
May Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
5/22, Dr. Grant S. McCall, New Perspectives on Southern African Rock Art & Hunter Gatherer Social Systems; 5/29, Dr. Stephen H. Lekson, Chimney Rock: Chaco’s Shining City on the Hill. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
REMINDER: May 18 In-Person Event (Sedona AZ): The Salado Phenomenon in the US Southwest
With Karen Schollmeyer. There is as a long history of debate over the Salado phenomenon: its origins, geographic extent, and whether Salado refers to a cultural group, religious movement, pottery ware, or some combination of all three. Much of this debate is due to the highly variable material culture across the region where Salado polychrome dominates decorated ceramic assemblages. This talk discusses some of the variability in what archaeologists call Salado, particularly in the Tonto Basin, San Pedro Valley, and Upper Gila areas of Arizona and New Mexico, and how this religious and social phenomenon supported successful multi-ethnic communities during the 14th and 15th centuries. Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road. 3:30 p.m. Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society | Learn more »
REMINDER: May 18 Online Event: Making and Breaking Waves: Feminist Thought in Anthropology’s History
With Ruth Burgett Jolie. Dr. Jolie will discuss the history of feminism in the US and how its advocacy for women’s political, social, and economic rights and equality has impacted our day-to-day lives as well as anthropology as a discipline. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | Learn more and register (free) »
May 20 In-Person (Bluff UT) and Online Event: Native Runners in Rock Imagery
With Carol Patterson. Bears Ears Partnership | Learn more »
May 25 Online Event: Canyons through the Ages
With Radek Palonka. The Painted Hand Petroglyph Panel/Strawman Panel and few other sites in the Sandstone Canyon, in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, southwestern Colorado, USA contain a great density of rock art representing the last 2,000 years of human development of this area. It includes petroglyphs of Basketmaker/Ancestral Pueblo farming societies and historic nomad Ute tribes as well as historical inscriptions of Euro-Americans. This talk will focus on various methods and techniques of digital documentation using high-resolution photo documentation and 3D digitization, i.e. photogrammetry, Reflectance Transformation Imaging/RTI, and laser scanning as well as subsequent analysis of Indigenous rock art and historical inscriptions. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register »
May 25 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: Excavating Tucson’s Chinese-American Past
With Laura W. Ng. During the 20th century, the Chinese American community in Tucson was dispersed; the majority of Chinese migrants operated grocery stores and restaurants that served multiethnic neighborhoods in the Old Pueblo. In 1968, the Tucson Urban Renewal project destroyed some of these Chinese-owned businesses, but buried deposits and standing structures related to Chinese migrants were archaeologically investigated. In this presentation, Dr. Ng focuses on the archaeology of the so-called Ying On Association compound, which housed Chinese social organizations including a clubhouse as well as Chinese boarders. Census records show that virtually all of the Ying On residents were men, but Dr. Ng’s research indicates these men were not “bachelors” or “sojourners” as they have been characterized, and that they had long and sustained interactions with their Indigenous and Mexican neighbors in Tucson. 10:45 a.m.–noon at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Rd. Email Robin Blackwood about in-person attendance. Arizona State Museum and Tucson Chinese Cultural Center | Learn more and register for online (free) »
May 31 Online Event: Reforging the Fremont Frontier
With Katie Richards. Think you know Fremont archaeology? What Dr. Richards has learned studying Fremont ceramics may surprise you! She argues that Fremont is best understood when we explore the complex interplay of local development and Southwestern influence within the context of the social changes that occurred during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods in the northern Southwest. Resituating Fremont as the northern periphery presents an engaging history of identity creation and maintenance. Utah State Historic Preservation Office | Learn more and register (free) »
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