I have long been interested in changes in population—demography—in my archaeological studies and as a global phenomenon. With colleagues, I have suggested that population numbers may have dropped by as much as 75 percent in the southern Southwest over the century from 1350 to 1450.
Therefore, it was with great interest that I observed this headline in the New York Times: “The World’s Population May Peak in Your Lifetime. What Happens Next?” The article is by economist Dean Spears of the University of Texas, Austin.
Last fall I shared with you an article about the world welcoming the 8 billionth human to the planet, with the expectation that population would peak around 10 billion before the end of the century. Until Dr. Spears’s article, I had not seen anyone ask the crucial question: What happens next?
If the world’s fertility rate were the same as in the United States today, then the global population would fall from a peak of around 10 billion to less than two billion about 300 years later, over perhaps 10 generations. And if family sizes remained small, we would continue declining.
For an archaeologist, three centuries isn’t a particularly long time span to think about. And what Spears is doing is playing out just one variable—fertility rate—over that time span. In other words, it is a very simple illustration.
Its value in my eyes is in its drama. The graphics in the article illustrate that population decline based on fertility rates less than the replacement rate of 2.1 can reverse the precipitous growth the world has experienced in relatively short time spans.
There are many implications of large-scale population decline. Speaking personally, this article caused me to think about my upcoming retirement and how there might be an opportunity to return to some of my previous research interests. There are clearly social implications of large-scale population decline. And archaeology might have some interesting things to add to a discussion of that topic.
As retirement gets closer, I’m building a list of things I hope to do. This article inspired another entry to the list.
Any other demography enthusiasts out there?
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. Our staff lunch was delicious! Hearty mesquite-masa and cholla-bud tamales; bright calabacitas (sauteed squash with cheese); savory tepary beans; crisp greens with cholla buds and a saguaro-seed vinaigrette; and a toothsome dessert of wheatberries soaked in agave syrup with nuts and dried fruit. Check out San Xavier Farms!
Continuing Coverage: Pueblo Leaders Defend Chaco Protection Zone in DC
The All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG), representing the 20 sovereign Pueblos of New Mexico and Texas, culminated their series of historic meetings with federal officials and congressional offices in Washington D.C., marking a significant stride in their mission to protect the Greater Chaco Region. Chaired by Mark Mitchell, alongside Vice-Chairman Jerome Luceo, the delegation including esteemed Governors from Acoma, Laguna, Jemez, Zia, and Zuni, carried the unified voice of their communities in firm opposition to the detrimental provisions of H.R. 4374—the “Energy Opportunities for All Act”. The meetings were an important platform to affirm the Pueblo’s unified stance against the bill introduced by Representatives Eli Crane and Paul Gosar. It affirmed the critical necessity to preserve the Department of the Interior’s Public Land Order No. 7923, which protects the sacred ten-mile radius around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park from any future mineral development and federal leasing. Chairman Mark Mitchell noted, “Our meetings have been fruitful, marked with conversations rooted in respect and understanding. While we have miles to go, the steps taken here in Washington are crucial. We have forged vital connections, shared our concerns, and echoed the heartbeat of the Greater Chaco Region through the halls of Congress. Our resolve is stronger than ever.” All Pueblo Council of Governors (press release) | Read more »
Pueblo leaders traveled to Washington D.C. this week to meet with federal officials in an effort to prevent the federal government from overturning a buffer zone preventing new oil and gas, or uranium, leases within a 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Following the announcement of a 20-year moratorium on mineral leasing on federal lands near Chaco, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill that would essentially end that moratorium. Pueblo of Acoma Gov. Randall Vicente said that it is “hard to accept somebody just coming in for the purpose of money to try to take it away and do away with it.” He asked how long the energy resources will last. “It’s going to deplete and it’s going to go,” he said. “One of these days, there won’t be anything. And then what are you going to stand on?” Hannah Grover in the NM Political Report | Read more »
Continuing Coverage and Commentary: Step Up for Grand Staircase-Escalante
The proclamations establishing and restoring the two national monuments are lofty documents that make the case for wielding the Antiquities Act to protect the landscapes in question. But the real test is always what happens on the ground. We have a clearer picture of that now, because this August, the BLM released its draft resource management plan and environmental impact statement for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The public has until Nov. 9 to make its wishes known. The local environmental community sees the agency’s “preferred” alternative, which “emphasizes the protection and maintenance of intact and resilient landscapes …” as a vast improvement over the status quo. Jonathan Thompson in the Salt Lake Tribune | Read more »
Long Read: Understanding the Land Back Movement
More than ever before, tribes are recovering their lands after centuries of violent land lust. By my count, in the past two decades there have been at least 100 tribal land recoveries involving some 73 state or federally recognized tribes, an intertribal coalition, and six Indigenous-owned land trusts. Altogether, these recoveries have secured over 420,000 acres for Native peoples. Indian lands have been recovered through a variety of means: outright land title purchases, donations from private landowners, transfers from land conservancies, and federal and state legislation, including long-overdue recognition of tribes that didn’t have legal status. Kalen Goodluck for Sierra Magazine | Read more »
Call for Indigenous Artists & Illustrators
Save History is seeking up to five Indigenous artists (must be U.S. citizens) to illustrate a Children’s Activity Book. The book will be shared on SaveHistory.org, in print, and on Save History social media channels. Our team has created a Children’s Activity Book to teach children about respectful visitation of archaeological sites. The book has reading and writing activities, word searches, drawing and coloring pages, and other activities. The selected group of artists will be responsible for illustrating a total of nine activities (black and white line drawings) and the book’s cover (full color). Save History | Learn more »
In Memoriam: Marc Simmons
Marc Simmons was quoted as saying, “I gave up everything for history—salary, family, everything. History is my reigning interest and passion.” The historian and prolific author, who for years regaled New Mexican readers with lively tales from the past in his Trail Dust history column, died Thursday evening in a memory care unit at La Vida Llena Retirement Community in Albuquerque, friends said. He was 86. Cynthia Miller in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read more »
Publication Announcement: Reconsidering Archaeological Garden Hunting
Jonathan Dombrosky, Caitlin S. Ainsworth, Abigail A. Judkins, Jana Valesca Meyer, Michael A. Adler, and Emily Lena Jones, Reconsidering archaeological garden hunting: A view from the northern U.S. Southwest, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Volume 51, 2023. Read abstract and section snippets »
September Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Sept. 25, Severin Fowles, Wolves and Spanish Colonial Predation. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
REMINDER: Sept. 21 Online Event: The Historical George McJunkin Reimagined through His Archaeological Sites
With Brian Kenny. Cowboy George McJunkin discovered the Folsom archaeological site proving humans were in the Americas 10,000 years ago. Archaeologists only verified his find after he died. The archaeology and history of McJunkin himself helps assess his importance in history. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | Learn more and register (free) »
REMINDER: Sept. 22 In-Person Event (Durango CO): Weaving Demonstration and Film Showing
With Venancio Aragon, Diné textile artist. Aragon will present a weaving demonstration at 3:00 p.m. in room 170 in the southwest corner of the Fort Lewis College (FLC) Art Department/Fine Arts Building. Enter the building either from the front, or, closer to Room 170, from the back. Aragon will also will speak briefly Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the FLC Student Union Ballroom to introduce the screening of Cloudy Ridge Production’s “Overshoot and Collapse in the Ancient Four Corners.” The film showing is free and open to the public as part of History Live. The Diné perspective plays an integral part in the film and features Venancio’s clear outlook. San Juan Basin Archaeological Society and Fort Lewis College | Learn more »
Sept. 23 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Hang ‘Em High in Arizona—Pima County’s Ghastly Gallows
With historian William Kalt. Arizona began hanging convicted murderers in 1865 and performed 108 executions before the U.S. Supreme Court imposed a national moratorium in 1972. As it does today, controversy swirled around the use of the death penalty. While many decried hanging as legalized murder, others vowed that if the law didn’t do it, they’d make sure “Judge Lynch” did. The tales of Pima County’s first four legal hangings are filled with crazy incidents and ghostly appearances. LaCo Pub, 201 N. Court Ave., 2:00 p.m. $5 entry fee. Salon & Saloon series (Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum) | Learn more »
Sept. 30 Online Event: Caretakers of the Land: History of Land and Water in the San Xavier Community
With Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan, PhD (Tohono O’odham). 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 the rich knowledge and culture grown from their connection to the desert. Amerind | Learn more and register (free) »
Oct. 3 Online Event: Tame or Wild? Emergent Ranching Cultures of Spanish Colonial Pimería Alta
With Nicole Mathwich. This talk will explore the emergent animal husbandry culture in the Pimería Alta through the first introduction of livestock to the region through the Spanish mission system (1687–1833). Mathwich compares and contrasts faunal bone from five mission sites from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, and then we’ll go deeper into the site of Mission Guevavi and examine how levels of ferality were strategically employed at the mission. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more and register (free) »
Oct. 5 Online Event: Creating Community during the Basketmaker III Period in Southwest Colorado
With Shanna Diederichs and Kari Schleher. The central Mesa Verde region of southwest Colorado was a new frontier for Ancestral Pueblo farmers during the Basketmaker III period (A.D. 500–750). The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center investigated a Basketmaker III settlement on Indian Camp Ranch from 2011–2018. The project found a settlement made up of culturally diverse immigrants with architectural and pottery production practices from various traditions across the Southwest. Public gatherings in the settlement’s great kiva transformed this diverse group into an integrated community. As the community grew, descendants of the original settlers found themselves with managerial control of the great kiva and many production practices, such as pottery manufacture and design. This development appears to have contributed to the community’s stability and economic viability and likely influenced Ancestral Pueblo social practices in the central Mesa Verde region for centuries. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
Oct. 7 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Meet the Curators of the “Weaving Has a Heartbeat” Exhibition
With Mariah Claw (Dine), Desiree (Yoeme), Harrison Preston (Tohono O’odham), and project director/ASM head of community engagement Lisa Falk. “Weaving Has a Heartbeat” is a heartfelt reflection on the importance of relationships and the connections between Indigenous people, their worldviews and traditions, and how these are woven into their art. The interns reflect on shared values and practices, and the mentorships and friendships that developed and nourished their creativity during ASM’s Honoring Traditions program, which focused on gaining skills in weaving, natural dyeing, and museum work. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Arizona State Museum | Learn more »
Save the Date: AAHS Annual Used Book Sale, Oct. 20–21 (Tucson AZ)
Our annual fall used book sale will be held in the lobby of the Arizona State Museum. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to support the Arizona State Museum. All books are half-price on Saturday from 12-2. Come browse and stock up. It is a great time to find “gray” 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 »
Video Channel Roundup
Find out which webinars and videos you missed and get caught up at the YouTube channels of our Partners and Friends. (And please do let us know if your channel isn’t in this list but should be!)
Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
Arizona State Museum
Bears Ears Partnership
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Grand Canyon Trust
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project
Mission Garden (Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace)
Museum of Indian Arts and Cultures
Museum of Northern Arizona
Old Pueblo Archaeology Center
San Diego Archaeological Center
School for Advanced Research
The Archaeological Conservancy
Verde Valley Archaeology Center
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!